The world is closer than ever these days. Ideas, people, and goods flow freely (for the most part) around the world. Globalization and technology have not only enabled us to communicate with people on the other side of the world, they have made this instantaneous connection commonplace. As companies expand to different countries and continents, international teams are becoming increasingly common.
Working with a team in a different country may sound daunting, and there are certainly obstacles that can hinder productivity and create challenges. For example, working in different time zones can make it tough for the team to be on the same page about a project. Decisions made in one timezone might take a project in a whole new direction by the time the rest of the team gets to work. Additionally, it can get lonely, especially if most of your team works from a different office. Proximity is one of the key factors in building relationships with your colleagues. If the only time you get to spend with your team is during Skype calls, it can be difficult to feel socially close to the people you work with every day.
How to overcome them
In my time with EF Academy, I have learned one key thing that really helps make working with a team in a different country pleasant and trouble-free. It’s as simple as this: always communicate! There may only be a few hours each day where you’re in the office at the same time as your colleagues on the other side of the world. This is the time to take advantage of the overlap and talk to your team members. Schedule regular calls to give updates on projects, brainstorm with your teammates, and check in with your supervisors. Not only will this keep everyone informed about what’s going on, but it will also help to build closer relationships with colleagues.
Being part of an international team can be difficult sometimes, but the rewards, both personal and professional, are well worth the challenge. Working with people from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds is a great way to learn and think critically. Keeping your mind active by engaging with new perspectives alongside your colleagues will positively impact both your work and your personal development. Embracing diversity and opening your mind to different approaches will teach you to be a more creative problem-solver, a skill that will benefit you no matter where you work.
Not only will you learn a tremendous amount from your international team, but you also expand your network. Collaborating with people from a variety of backgrounds has the potential to open other professional doors in the future that may lead you to a new field or a new country. I am immensely thankful for all I have learned from my team, and for the connections I’ve made across the world in my time here at EF Academy. If you’re as lucky as I am, your team will become cherished friends who you’ll look forward to seeing when traveling. (Another added bonus of working with a transcontinental team – travel!) Having friends, colleagues, and connections all over the world – as EF Academy alumni are well aware – is such a wonderful thing.