Our way of working and thinking about work has changed, and companies are no longer identified with physical offices. It is increasingly common, for instance, for professionals to work in the same team, managing a project without ever meeting each other in person, because they live in different regions or even countries. This also means that several languages may be spoken within the same team and different cultures may come together. And it is precisely in this type of corporate structure that it becomes more important, even indispensable, to work on team building, but how can this be done effectively if you cannot travel to spend time together? Luckily, technology comes to our aid, offering us plenty of viable options for international team-building activities.
The purpose of international team-building
International team-building differs from traditional team-building in many ways. It is not just a question of choosing activities that can be carried out online and remotely (which, as we have seen, is currently the common feature of any team-building project), but of programmes, with different objectives from those we have encountered so far and discussed on this blog. When dealing with teams from different cultures, in fact, one needs to take an extra step to foster the required “team spirit” to be able to work together effectively on the same project. In this case, getting to know each other means becoming familiar with each other’s customs, learning to understand how other people’s habits differ from our own, learning to understand and respect different cultures, and finding ways of communicating that make everyone feel equally welcome and part of the team.
Different languages and time zones
Teams spread across several countries will often choose English as their official working language, because it is simpler than almost all Romance, Germanic, and Asian languages and is the lingua franca of the business world. There is nothing unusual about this, but “playing” with languages and communication during an international team-building allows you to get to know each other and learn, encouraging a flexible approach to the interaction between colleagues. If the different teams are in different time zones, it may also be useful to look for a time that falls within the office hours of all participants, but if this should prove impossible, it is advisable to alternate so that inconvenient time slots are not always allocated to the same group of employees.
Exchanging points of view
Many different team-building exercises can be carried out remotely, but in the case of an international team-building project, we particularly recommend those that allow colleagues with different roles and tasks to “swap” points of view and put themselves in each other’s shoes, for example by placing people from different countries in the same team and focusing on activities that require rapid communication and the ability to understand each other at a glance in order to complete their mission before the other teams do. This will create strong connections even across great distances, stimulating mutual trust between team members and helping people with different habits and cultural backgrounds to recognise each other’s point of view.