Behind every innovative organizational initiative is a team. At SoftwareONE our global Learning and Development (L&D) team has been working diligently over the past year to not only make learning more exciting and accessible to all of our employees, but to also build out our own cohesive team. Like so many modern teams today we are a multilingual team spread around the world. We currently have representation in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, and India.
The entirely of our team will meet in person for the first time this Spring, however the large majority of our work is done remotely via tools like Microsoft Teams . Though we have never been together in person we have made some great strides as a team that we are proud of. Our most significant accomplishment has been developing relationships and a team bond that allows us to communicate well and support one another personally and professionally. Given our momentum we decided to share our perspective on what we believe are the key tenets are of laying the groundwork for a strong global team.
- Uphold a regular cadence of team time – calendar/diary commitment — When you are juggling multiple time zones and schedules it is TOUGH (probably the understatement of the year) to find a regular time to meet as a team. We encountered a few bumps in the road and cancellations when we first set out to meet on a regular basis, however our leader was persistent. She kept putting time on our calendars and working with our feedback and schedules until we fell into a rhythm that worked for all of us. It also helps that we were each able to have input into our preferred team meeting times. For a few of us our meetings take place in the later evening or early morning hours. As a team we always acknowledge the time differences and show gratitude to our peers who are joining at times outside of traditional work hours. Finally, we know it’s important to begin and end our sessions on time, especially for our teammates who are joining our calls at night.
- Make time for team building, bonding, and trust building — We usually start our team calls with a personal and professional “check-in” and an ice breaker. This takes time but we believe it is well worth it. It has helped us to get familiar with each other on the business side, as well aspersonally. This has led to fun traditions for us, such as emailing photos of our families and outside-of-work activities to each other. Sharing a special connection within a remote team is arguably the most important thing to establish because you don’t have the advantage of casual, ongoing interaction that you’d have in an office setting. Another key for our team when it comes to trust building is the fact that disagreement among us is expected and appreciated during our time together. We set the expectation as a team from the get-go that our communication will be open, honest, and respectful. Freedom to express ourselves helps us to feel safe, which in turn helps us to feel at home as a team.
- Lean through the diversity of knowledge and expertise —Learning about, appreciating, and relying on the span of expertise and cultures represented on a global team enriches the teams’ experience (and also makes us more valuable to our customers). Our team shares a common goal but we all have expertise in different sections of development and training. Everybody has deep respect for one another’s experience and knowledge. We are also able to bring the perspective of the various global markets we represent to the table. We know that interlinking our talents and knowledge will help us to produce excellent results for our company.
- If, and when, possible, get the team together in person — Finally, we do believe in the power of meeting in person as a team if it is possible. Our talented instructional designer Alex says, “Even for me – and I consider myself as a completely digitally transformed worker – it is so helpful to meet colleagues at least once in real life to understand how they work and how to best interact with them.” In person interactions, which can be a luxury for global teams, do help to make it easier to work together as a virtual and global team. Our Learning and Development team at SoftwareONE is eagerly awaiting our first in-person meeting this May. By the time we meet in person we will have worked together for nearly one year. We are proof that laying the groundwork for a strong team is possible to do remotely. We also believe that the work we are putting in now while apart will enable us to produce a greater return on investment during our time together in May.
This blog was co-authored by: Tina Tedesco, Lucretia Hall, and Alex Muenzberg