Working globally

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Several of our big clients over the last year are global companies, with headquarters in Europe and most of the people we work with on a daily basis dispersed throughout North America. From a consulting perspective, it is interesting to observe how different they operate than companies whose executives all work in the same building. For someone who is used to working primarily with people in the same location, it is a big adjustment. They can’t grab someone for a few minutes after a meeting, they can’t walk down the hall to find someone who doesn’t show up to a meeting, they can’t pick up the phone and talk anytime if they are working in radically different time zones. They can’t just go grab lunch to get to know each other or see if someone is having a bad day based on their body language.

I haven’t seen these challenges hold them back. If anything, some of the executive teams working remotely are more effective than those who work in the same suite. Those who are really effective do the following things really well:

  1. They are loyal to their calendars. They schedule meetings and show up for them.
  2. They are master facilitators on the phone. They prepare materials in advance to get conversation started and tee up discussions effectively.
  3. They use video sometimes, either via computers or TelePresence to further get to know people.
  4. They are very strategic with their in person time together, planning both work and play.
  5. They have hubs of people working together so that they do feel like they have some camaraderie in the workplace.

What have you all seen?

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