What are geographically dispersed/global teams?
Before technologies such as videoconferencing, email, and the intranet were a thing, it used to be crucial for a team to be present in the same geographical location to communicate and collaborate effectively. Sharing updates regularly and staying connected are essential to the success of a project so a common physical location was a necessity. But today, we have moved past that phase and technology has made unimaginable advancements at an unthinkable rate. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that physical contact is not actually necessary in today’s world.
Today, we regularly work with clients and colleagues that may be based in different buildings, different areas, different cities, or even different nations. Today, you may be a part of a team consisting of members who speak other languages, are from different continents, and have diverse cultural backgrounds. Many companies have formed teams that are comprised of people from a multitude of different nations and while they may never meet in real life, they are all working together to accomplish a common goal for the organisation.
Why are global teams necessary?
Today, thanks to technology, you have the whole world available at your fingertips. Today’s economy is a global one, connected and facilitated by the internet. Companies have branches that are spread worldwide and customers that can buy products or services online from anywhere in the world, irrespective of their physical location. Demographics and cultural influences play a significant role in determining the survival of a business in today’s climate. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that enterprises have begun to increase their reliance on global teams and technology to communicate, cooperate, and collaborate.
There are many benefits to global teams. The most important one is that they consist of professionals with deep and valuable knowledge of local markets. International groups also allow enterprises to hire competent industry specialists regardless of their geographical location. With a team of people from diverse backgrounds, companies can develop customised strategies for specific regions. Different opinions and insights from different nations can also create strategies that have a global outlook. In other words, global teams are how multinational companies survive in today’s globalised business world.
What are the benefits of global teams?
1) Perhaps the most significant benefit of global teams is that they bring a holistic outlook to your company. With a team consisting of people from different backgrounds, with different educations and experiences, you have both cultural and intellectual diversity in your team. As a result, whatever challenges your company faces, be it operational, managerial, structural, organisational, or marketing and sales-related, you’ll have a team that can look at it with a multidimensional approach and offer diverse perspectives.
2) When physical boundaries are no longer a limitation, the pool from which a company can hire talent from becomes almost endless. Now they have access to the entire world and can pick the most qualified and skilled professionals to work for their brand, no matter where they are based.
3) A Chinese local would have more knowledge on how to market a product or service in China than a person who’s lived in London their entire life. Having people from diverse cultural backgrounds allows businesses to gain valuable insights which they can base their decisions on.
4) A global team is likely to have people that live in different time zones. Morning for one employee is night for another. The most significant advantage of having people in different time zones is that when one member goes to sleep, another begins working. This means you have a team that is always online and productive. As a result, someone will always be available to answer queries or troubleshoot issues.
5) Research by Globalization Partners has brought to light a lot of interesting facts about global teams. The data shows that 31% of HR professionals see increased productivity as the primary benefit of a geographically distributed team. The 2020 Global Employee Survey by Globalization Partners also found that global teams are 12% less likely to report issues than single-location teams.
Are virtual/global teams common?
There are many benefits to a global team, so it’s no wonder that more and more companies have begun building international coalitions. According to a 2019 report by the Society for Human Resource Management, among the most significant benefits that virtual global teams offer are global perspectives (81%), cost-effectiveness (32%), diversity (72%), creativity (54%), access to international talent (53%), and productivity (31%). The same report also found that about 82% of companies with global teams are growing, whereas only 3% are downsizing.
In addition to this, other studies and surveys have shown that many companies are reaping benefits such as increased productivity, reduced CapEx/OpEx, better speed to market, improved risk management and consolidated portfolios from global team building. Globalization Partners’ 2019 Global Employee Survey discovered that 84% of the employees are a part a global team. Additionally, the HR managers reported that 48% of their international teams work together daily and that 86% work together occasionally.
Downsides to global teams
1) The biggest challenge that a global team faces is communication. Effective, seamless, and regular communication is vital to ensure that project work is completed on-time and to a high standard. Videoconferencing means having to share a screen with a dozen other people, which makes the free flow of ideas, opinions, feedback, and other essential inputs a little restricted.
2) All global teams have one thing in common, technology. It is what connects them and makes them possible. A leader who lacks knowledge in technology and cannot manage it will be ineffective and will not produce the desired results. Management in a virtual environment is a more challenging task that requires extensive expertise and knowledge. The team leader should provide a clear vision, encouragement and motivation to the team members so that they can achieve their goals.
3) The third most significant challenge for global teams are the teammates themselves. Most members of international digital groups are recruited digitally too. The recruiter might fail to correctly assess the person without an in-person assessment. Since every member has a critical role to play, global teams require proactive, vigilant, agile, and reliable team players.
How to build a successful global team?
In a global team setting, employees might end up feeling isolated and alone. It’s thus necessary to choose self-motivated professionals who do not require constant inspiration and motivation to work and innovate. Another essential thing to look for in a potential global team member is communication skills, both written and verbal. It serves as the only reliable link between themselves and their teammates. The team member should also be well versed in the range of technologies that are used in a global team setting.
Understanding team dynamics is hard enough in a physical setting, a digital setting makes it even harder. In a digital setting, it is hard to identify if a team member is happy or not and if there are conflicts between team members. Thus, regular engagement with all the team members is a necessity. Lastly, it’s necessary to organise regular digital team-building exercises to promote team spirit.
So, is it difficult for teams spread across multiple countries to collaborate effectively? To answer it simply, yes, but it is far from impossible. Competent leadership and a carefully put together team can actually lead to the work getting done more effectively and efficiently than a traditional team.
Technology is undoubtably the most important aspect of global team setting. Only the most reliable and effective digital tools should be used. At Gemraj Technologies Ltd, we specialise in providing digital services that complement business goals and make communication and collaboration amongst employees seamless. From cloud computing to cybersecurity, you can rely on us for top-quality, comprehensive services that take care of all your digital technology needs.