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How can interculturality and remote working be combined?

Julie Leprohon
by Julie Leprohon Read time : 2min
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Many companies have chosen to recruit international profiles and use this cultural diversity as a real asset. However, managing a team whose members are positioned around the world can be a challenge. A challenge that now affects all continents, slowed down by the current health crisis. Closed borders, restricted travel, fourteen day quarantine, confinement...
How is it possible to combine interculturality and teleworking in a global setting where non-contact is now preferred? How can the bond be strengthened without travel to offices around the world?     
Intercultural management then becomes a real challenge within the company.

International team and culture

An international team is a group of individuals from different cultures working together with a shared goal. Having a different culture does not just mean coming from a different country. An individual’s culture refers to their way of thinking and living their life, with both aspects generally shared by those from that particular culture. Culture includes ideas, behaviour, values, traditions, beliefs and customs that create a sense of belonging. In business, culture is born out in a different mother tongue and ways of interacting as well as a person’s view of the world of work and its conventions.

Our advices :

For interculturalism to drive success in a company, managers need to be aware of specific cultural differences within their team and adapt their management style accordingly. Doing this is sure to bear fruit.

Everyone expresses themselves in their own way!

In international teams, the use of English tends to be de rigueur. Even if most people can speak good English, this does not mean communication will be perfect. It’s important to be aware of the two levels of language mastery: verbal and non-verbal (the latter comprising tone and body language). These subtleties can be hard to notice so it’s important to carefully interpret works spoken. Each individual’s culture influences the way they speak to others and managers need to be aware of this.

Our advice:  

Be multilingual

Alternate languages from one meeting to the next. A way of not offending anyone and getting your employees to practice!

Learning about others

It is essential that trusting relationships exist within a team so any cultural prejudices must be eliminated if mutual respect is to be achieved. Therefore, it is useful for team members to learn more about the cultures that make up their team. Managers need to be close to their teams and show an interest in specific cultural details. If they do this, staff are likely to follow their example and be more open to each other.     

Our advice:  

Get together around a virtual meal

Take advantage of shared times remotely to share recipes from your country, each in their own kitchen. Send the list of ingredients beforehand and remotely help your workers in the preparation of their dishes.If you can't set up a videoconference, opt for sharing a participatory recipe book where everyone would come and contribute a recipe.

Adopt a common calendar

Draw up a calendar of public and religious holidays in each country to remind you when a particular employee is absent and why they may not be able to answer your emails on that day. It is also a good opportunity to wish them a happy holiday or a good day beforehand!

Offer training courses

How about training to ensure that everyone has access to the same level of information? At Cooptalis Formation, we offer you interculturality based training to develop your management skills. 
Not forgetting non-discrimination, in particular being able to better identify the factors that can lead to discrimination and put in place an action plan to avoid them. Want to know more about our training? Contact us!

 Creating a team culture

If a manager encourages communication within their team, a unique team culture will emerge, resulting from the ways of working and conventions which have developed within the group.
When all group members accept and adopt these ‘standards’, communication will become easier. However, when a new colleague joins the team relationships will inevitably change. The manager must therefore adapt to developments in their team’s culture. Intercultural management is undoubtedly a long-term process rather than a single action.

 Our advice:

Favour common schedules

How about setting up schedules that would be accessible to most of your employees around the world? An immediate consideration when setting up your meetings to ensure that all employees can attend. And if the clock does not allow it in certain places, offer a replay of your meeting for your teams. A good way to keep them informed and include them in your discussions.              
The same goes for your invitations, don't forget to specify the time zone ("French time" for example) to avoid any confusion.           

In conclusion, the manager must be able to take a step back in order to go beyond the simple observation of the differences between the members of their team, to set up adapted actions that permit group cohesion and which draw on the benefits of the team.

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