How to communicate with an overseas distributed team?
With more companies becoming distributed, knowing how to communicate with your employees has become significantly more important. While technology has enabled us to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world, there are still many challenges that distributed teams can face.
When it comes to communicating with your overseas team, companies can face challenges, with time differences, language barriers and more. However, that’s not to say that an overseas distributed team is impossible to navigate, with the right tools your team can communicate better than before regardless of distance or any barriers. In this article, we will explore how an overseas distributed team can successfully communicate and overcome these challenges.
What is a distributed team?
Before knowing how to communicate with a distributed team it is first important to understand what they are. One study defines distributed teams as ‘a term that refers to a team where all members are physically located away from each other, operating within different time zones.’, not to be confused with a remote team where some employees will work away from each other but there will still be people within this company that work together in the same location. Rather, a distributed team is when employees are separated by their geographical location.
The Challenges of an overseas distributed team.
Before learning how to mitigate any communication challenges you might face it is first important for organisations to understand the challenges that an overseas distributed team poses.
In a world where technology has enabled us to collaborate with anyone, anytime and anywhere, time differences can create a major obstacle. Working with people in different time zones can be tricky as it can lead to a lack of real-time communication and team bonding.
The challenge is that when teams are spread across different time zones, collaboration hours become odd and schedules don’t always align. This can make it difficult for teams to communicate effectively and work together efficiently, leading to delays in projects, missed deadlines or miscommunication.
No Face to Face Communication
While being able to keep in contact across technology is an amazing development, there are benefits from face to face communication that you won’t receive from working digitally. For example, there may be things that get lost when communicating over a computer.
One example of this would be how we perceive tone. When speaking in person, people gauge facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures in order to understand how someone wants what they are saying to communicate. It’s how we understand if someone is happy or angry. However, this can get lost over digital communication, and can result in confusion for your team.
Workers may experience technical constraints in a distributed team. Where in an office you will be provided with technology: laptops, keyboards, phones and more. A distributed team may experience technical constraints as they don’t have access to all of this equipment and it can be difficult to provide, this is when they are overseas or in a different country.
Generally, it is up to the employer to ensure all of their employees have the necessary equipment to perform their job to the highest standard.
How distributed teams can communicate
Communication is key when it comes to working with a distributed team and utilising technology and tools to their fullest potential can help bridge the gap between teams located around the world.
Chat systems have become an essential tool for businesses to maintain consistent communication and strengthen relationships with employees, and partners. They provide an organised platform to use for group conversations, sharing files, and more.
Popular chat systems such as Slack, Google Chat, and Microsoft Teams are used by businesses of all sizes to streamline communication and collaboration. With their user-friendly interfaces and powerful features, they help teams stay connected even when they are not in the same physical location. They also provide a secure platform that ensures the privacy of conversations between users.
This allows for team mates to send a quick message, ideal when it’s not urgent or a small question, which in turn, stops everything being sent by email and filling up their inboxes.
Email communication has become an essential part of our lives. With over 300 billion emails sent every day, it is clearer than ever that effective email communication is crucial for any business and their team. Emails can help to build relationships, share information quickly and efficiently, as well as increase productivity.
Knowing how to write emails that are clear, concise, and professional is the next challenge a company may face. Emails allow us to quickly and easily exchange information between colleagues, clients, and customers. However, it can be difficult to ensure that emails are clear and effective.
To make sure that emails are read and understood correctly, we recommend you do the following:
Use an active voice to ensure that the goal you want from your email will be successful
Consider your Audience. Who is this email going to? And how will this impact the tone you use throughout the email.
Choose appropriate subject lines. This could be the difference between someone noticing your email and opening it, or ignoring it.
Maintain the right tone to ensure that no miscommunication occurs.
Knowing how to respond to emails is also important in order to keep conversations moving forward towards their desired goals. With these tips in mind, you can ensure that your distributed team’s email communication is clear and effective.
Virtual meetings and video recordings
With the rise of distributed teams, more companies may be presented with challenges to manage communication between team members. Physical meetings are not always possible, and for distributed teams, face-to-face communication is a thing of the past.
With virtual meetings distributed teams can still communicate efficiently and effectively. Virtual meetings allow team members to see each other’s visual cues as well as hear each other’s voices, making it easier for them to understand each other better.
Additionally, video recordings of meetings or work can be used for later reference or review by team members who were unable to attend the meeting or need a refresher on what was discussed or worked on. Tools like Loom can be used for screen recording videos for future reference.
These solutions enable distributed teams to stay connected and improve their employee productivity without having to worry about no face-to-face communication.
Some tools you can use for effective virtual meetings include: Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google hangouts.
Additionally, you can use our own software to make video calls with your teammates. PukkaTeam takes a screenshot of each team member to imitate an office space and make your remote or distributed team feel as though they are sat next to one another.
To ensure successful collaboration between team members, tracking projects and shared documentation has become increasingly important. Tracking should be a top priority, as this will ensure all members are on the same page. Project management tools such as Trello and Google Docs can help your overseas team keep track of tasks and progress. With a distributed team it is likely that your team will be in different time zones.
We recommend having daily stand ups or check-ins to keep everyone informed about a project’s progress. While this may be difficult for teams in different time zones, so long as you are project tracking everything should flow as smoothly as it would if your team were sat right next to each other
By having a space where your team can share their work such as google docs, will ensure that your team can collaborate in one place, this will improve the flow for team work or projects, and make it easier to review work whenever needed.
Project management tools such as Trello can help keep track of tasks and progress. Whereas Google Docs is a great space to share and collaborate on projects.
We recommend using daily stand ups or check-ins, which are recorded and stored in a central location, that everyone can use as a reference to keep everyone informed about a project’s progress. By using these tools, distributed teams can collaborate better and achieve their goals more efficiently.
Working with a distributed team overseas may look a little daunting, but it is important to keep in mind that communication is key. With the right tools and project management systems, an overseas distributed team can be just as effective as working in the office.
Using tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and project management software can help your team stay connected and in sync with the work everyone is doing. These tools make it easier for you to communicate ideas quickly and efficiently. You can also use meeting tools to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to tasks and deadlines. All of which will ensure that your distributed overseas team is communicating as if they were sitting right next to each other.