How to Ensure Teamwork Across Borders – 3 Strategies!

Are you looking for ways to keep your team connected across different countries? Try out these 3 strategies to ensure successful teamwork and collaboration, no matter the distance!

Working across time zones has become easier and more competitively necessary since the pandemic. That not only resulted in a more dispersed and fragmented workforce, but it also made the skill shortage problem worse. In the meantime, a lot of knowledge workers have developed a high level of productivity and comfort in a remote setting.
The biggest obstacle most people have in utilising a worldwide workforce is time, as technology has now made cross-space communication very effortless. Some international teams choose to overcome this difficulty by adhering to a single, predominate time zone (“everyone must maintain US East Coast hours”),

however giving one group of employees priority over another can have a number of unfavourable effects. The workers who are inconvenienced will eventually feel the burden on their personal relationships, mental health, and capacity to maintain a work-life balance. Many people must ultimately decide between switching to a different time zone and going on to another business.

The alternative choice is to allow employees to keep convenient working hours regardless of where they are located, although that has its own difficulties. In particular, it may amplify the effects of minor misunderstandings or communication gaps. In a conventional organisation, team members can instantly obtain clarification or fill in information gaps when anything is missing or unclear. Multinational teams, however, may waste a day of work waiting for an explanation from a co-worker who is asleep halfway around the world. It becomes more difficult to fulfil deadlines, reach decisions, and close agreements as a result of these costly delays.

Live meetings at odd hours are typically the approach chosen by most organisations in these situations. Although if after-hours meetings may be required in an emergency, companies that adopt this strategy run the danger of creating a culture where employees feel like they are “always on,” which can have a negative impact over time.

Live chat is the response most businesses use when faced with situations like this. All of these detrimental effects come at a price. Recent research found that 31% of American workers would forego some of their pay in order to improve their work-life balance. Also, the average worker would need $10,000 in extra pay in order to give up some of their work-life balance.

According to a different study, staff members who strongly identify with their company take 75% less sick days than those who don’t, while those who feel alienated have a 50% higher turnover rate. Miscommunications cost the typical small business (with fewer than 100 employees) $420,000 a year in lost productivity, turnover, and trust issues.

Hence, without relying on after-hours conversations, how can teams function effectively when their workdays only overlap for one or two hours every day? Here are some of the finest practises we’ve discovered in our more than ten years of operating Bubbles entirely remotely.

  1. Taking use of overlapping hours

Since team members only have a few hours of their workday to spend together, it’s critical to make the most of that time. In particular, meeting periods during certain windows should be minimised, and only team members who have something significant to contribute—something that can’t be given in a note later—should be included.

Prior to the meeting, attendees should have sufficient knowledge to ensure that the opening minutes are used effectively to bring everyone up to speed. Moreover, only urgent, crucial, or difficult-to-address asynchronous issues should be on the agenda.

Improve your asynchronous communication skills

Most information that travels across time zones will instead be transmitted asynchronously, utilising communication methods that don’t require real-time participation, when overlapping hours are restricted. As a result, team members must rely on their communication skills to write or record communications that can be easily understood by team members in other time zones.

Slack and email, which frequently need great written communication skills, are not sufficient for effective asynchronous communication. With the help of our platform, Bubbles, users may participate in asynchronous conversations using text, voice, or video, giving everyone an equal chance to contribute using the medium that comes naturally to them.

Create data repositories.

It’s usually helpful to have a second fallback option in case the information requested after a brief real-time chat within those few overlapping hours or an asynchronous conversation is still lacking. An informational repository usually serves as the final safeguard before calling a frantic after-hours meeting or risking a day of missed production.

Employee handbooks or a straightforward shared document updated with pertinent information on a particular project give workers another way to bridge asynchronous communication gaps. Although you can’t communicate everything in an email or asynchronous video message, you also don’t want to give the receiver too much information. So, it is always advisable to have a second location that staff members can turn to for information when it is needed. It’s a good idea to end each day with a brief update for your coworkers who are in other time zones to decrease the need for in-person meetings and to keep track of progress and chances for efficiency gains.

Organizations will find it increasingly difficult to compete in the post-pandemic economy if they ignore the opportunities that a more decentralised workforce presents. Yet, in order to access a global workforce, potential communication barriers must first be closed. International teams can still efficiently interact even with limited overlapping working hours by making the most of the hours, learning to communicate synchronously, and providing extra informational resources.