Whether you already have a team of employees in the United States or you’re giving it some serious contemplation, the idea can still seem a little bit daunting. Having said that, the US is the world’s largest economy, so it’s definitely worth investing the time and effort to make it work. There are plenty of ways to get your team up and running, if you haven’t done so yet, such as using Foothold America to help you employ workers in the USA. But what about once things are off the ground? How do you make it work? Here are just a few ways you can manage communication between teams overseas.
Back here, it’s not unheard of to have weekly team meetings to keep everyone up-to-date on current projects and each other’s work, so why should it be any different when there’s a team located elsewhere? Jump on a weekly video conference call to keep everyone in the loop of goings on.
Emails are all well and good, but there’s something a bit too formal about them at times and they feel a lot less personal; not to mention how long it can take some people to respond… Instant messaging services such as Skype or Slack make it far easier for colleagues to stay in touch throughout the working day, with the capabilities of video calls and file sending too.
Obviously, one of the main things to take into consideration when having teams working in varying locations is the different time zones. To make things more manageable, arrange meetings for later on in the day, so that US colleagues can dial in when they get to work in the morning.
Leading on from our previous point, the east coast of America is five hours behind the UK, but the west coast is eight hours. You should be open to allowing your colleagues to work flexible hours so that they’ll put in the time and dedication needed for certain calls or deadlines in return. If there’s no other option than insisting an employee is in the office extra early in order to join a call, the least you can do is allow them to leave early too.
One of the best ways of making communications work between overseas teams is to make sure you have a well thought out strategy and are planning things far enough in advance. That way there’s plenty of time to put things in place to ensure everyone can attend and be involved in what they should be. Have a shared calendar that everyone can access and know exactly what’s coming up.
It can sometimes be easy to forget to involve teams in certain things when they’re not there in person, but that will only leave them feeling isolated and undervalued. Instead, be sure to include them in all decision-making, as if they’re in house. Their opinion matters just as much as the UK team’s, plus different cultures can have different perspectives, which can be crucial.
You might not be able to have a face-to-face social engagement team, but you can build a tool just as powerful. A company intranet is a great place for online forums, discussions, suggestions, photo galleries and news. From fundraising to recognition awards and everything in between, it’s a great way to make your employees feel like one big team.
Finally, it goes without saying that you should make the time to take the journey across the pond or invite your US colleagues over to visit your UK office. Whether it’s a quarterly meet-up or just an annual get together, nothing quite beats being able to sit down and get to know somebody properly in person. It’ll make all the other points above so much easier throughout the rest of the year too.
Communication is key in any business, but especially when working with colleagues overseas. Follow these simple guidelines and you can make your international business a roaring success.