Having an international workforce can breathe new life into your organization, enhance problem-solving through the addition of fresh perspectives and help your bottom line. However, one key to making a crew of remote employees spread across the globe be a benefit to your business is clear communication, especially in meetings. If everyone isn’t on the same page during a conference, the meeting can feel like a waste of time and productivity can take a hit.
Keep all your employees in the loop, no matter where they are, with these four tips for running business meetings with an international workforce:
1. Respect cultural differences
When you have a workforce made up of individuals from around the world, it’s important to take cultural differences into account. Ahead of the meeting, read up on standard business practices and etiquette for the countries from which you have employers calling in, the Harvard Business Review recommended.
“There are differences in terms of how and where people are supposed to sit in meetings, the extent to which they get down to business at the start of a meeting versus how much time they spend socializing, the extent to which they’re willing to provide feedback or argue publicly—there are so many different elements,” said Andy Molinsky, professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis University International Business School.
Even when your meeting attendees are not physically in the same place, it’s still important to be aware of cultural differences in terms of tone and style of conversation and approaches to problem-solving.
2. Be conscious of time zones
Of course, it’s nearly impossible to hold a meeting at a time that’s perfect for everyone, but being conscious of time zones can help lessen remote employees’ feelings of stress or frustration. The best time to have meetings with an international workforce is in the middle of the week, according to ShoreTel Sky. It’s best to steer clear of scheduling anything on Monday morning or Friday afternoon, and of course, try to avoid scheduling at the crack of dawn or in the middle of the night for those in other time zones.
3. Embrace video conferencing
Conference calls can get the job done, but visual communication is all the more important for establishing and maintaining connections with an international workforce. Face-to-face interaction builds trust, as Mashable noted, and it is smart to invest in high-quality, easy-to-use video software.
4. Keep the meeting focused
It’s important to respect everyone’s time, whether you’re having a meeting with an international workforce or with in-office employees, but keeping things short and sweet is especially important when it comes to remote team members. Invite only the people that absolutely must be on the call, set a detailed agenda and stick to it during the meeting, ShoreTel Sky advised. Make sure all attendees receive any needed materials ahead of time, and send out notes promptly after the meeting concludes.
Have any of your own tried-and-true tips for conducting meetings with an international workforce? Share them by tweeting @MSIGTS.