The global pandemic revealed a lot of home truths to businesses around the world. The very existence of many businesses was fundamentally threatened, with many falling by the wayside, as COVID-19 tore a hole in balance sheets, irrespective of renown or industry.
Some of those that survived had to adapt fundamentally to do so, with methods of communication particularly overhauled when working remotely. Employees living in the same city could no longer meet to collaborate in person. Everything shifted online; for many, this shift was so seamless that they continue to work in this manner today.
For businesses reliant on cross-border communication to facilitate international growth, lessons learnt from shifting domestic communication online during the pandemic can save organisations valuable time and resources, allowing for precious financial savings.
You could say as an international translation agency, we’re already experts in embracing a multi-location approach to our business practice!
Let’s explore our top tips for communicating with cross-border teams.
Embrace digital communication methods and meet more regularly
Before being forced to adopt digital communication methods for day-to-day business, including meeting new business partners and collaborating with internal teams regularly, some business leaders would have feared major disruption when the pandemic struck. However, for many businesses, particularly service-based ones, working remotely has been as much a blessing as a curse.
Some video conferencing tools can allow businesses to host meetings with up to 200 people. Just compare the cost of an annual subscription of a video conferencing tool to hundreds of plane tickets for your employees all flying in from various locations, and you can see the potential savings starting to mount up.
With access to video conferencing tools, your teams can meet more frequently for status updates, brainstorming sessions and to share learnings. It’s time for your business to turn the global pandemic into an operational advantage.
Utilise instant messaging and project management tools
Instant messaging tools like Slack and project management tools such as Monday and Teamwork mean team members can easily communicate across borders, track progress on projects and shared tasks, and work on shared documents together.
This way, team members can be in constant communication, where time zones allow, meaning the necessary staff are well informed about their monthly, weekly and daily priorities.
Instant messaging and project management tools help your teams stay on task and on track to meet deadlines and push towards your key organisational goals.
Respect cultural differences
Remember that differences in culture can affect international team member communication styles and certain meeting etiquette. Understanding the quirks of a culture’s business practices will allow you to keep positive communication flowing, as teams work towards shared goals in a style that suits them.
Keep in mind when different international teams are at work: even the basics such as how do time zones differ, and when might a meeting be held when everyone is at their most productive and alert?
Make in-person and virtual seamless
It is also important to make sure that all team members required are able to attend the meeting. Ensure you know who is coming to the office, and who is working from home.
Make the whole collaboration experience seamless by standardising communications technology, regardless of their location. Double-check they have the right access to digital meeting rooms and that their technology – computer, camera, microphone and internet speed – are of sufficient quality to allow them to participate as we start to work together in and out of the office again.
Capitalise on bilingual team members
We recently wrote how organisations with language skills fare 30 per cent better when exporting overseas. Bilingual team members can help communications flow smoothly between territories. For this reason, you might want to consider buddying up bilingual speakers with employees that speak only one language to help them collaborate more effectively.
How we can help
At Bubbles, due to extensive experience of working with large, discerning clients across a multitude of sectors, countries, languages and formats, we can form a quick and informed understanding of your translation challenge – whether it’s marketing and sales, technical or legal.