Some companies have multiple business units in one specific area, but some have business units that span across multiple states, and even across the world. Working with individuals in different areas may create a bit of conflict due to cultural differences (even within the same area if they are from a different culture), time zone differences, consumer differences, etc.
I haven’t met business locations that can be ran exactly the same from one area to another. This is because everything is different, including the way of thinking of employees down to the mindset of the consumer. Here are a few things to remember when working with locations across the nation, or world:
Time Zone Differences. Remember that not everyone is in your time zone. If you are scheduling conference calls be sure to take into account what time the call would be in their time zone and see if there’s a way to accommodate both areas. If the location is in another country, it’s best to understand what day and what time of day it is in their country. You may have to make a few concessions with your time to make conference calls happen that’s fair to everyone.
Holiday Schedules. Local holidays aren’t the same in all parts of the U.S., and especially across the world. Ask your employees what the normal holiday schedule is in their area ahead of time to ensure everyone is still able to work in important deadlines around these days. Workflow may need to be adjusted to accommodate some locations or employees. My recommendation is to be flexible as it will make your employees happier, and more productive.
Labor Laws. Every state (and country) has different labor laws. In the U.S. there are standardized federal laws, but there are also state and local laws that must be adhered to. Ensure you are working with your HR department to understand any differences to help accommodate your employees.
Language. While everyone on your conference call may have the ability to speak the same language (hopefully) the difference in accents, slang terms, and even fluency can create challenges. Ensure everyone understands the message being given.
Culture. Ensure you understand the culture of employees you are working with, even if they are in the same area as you are. Personal cultural values are brought into out professional lives, especially when we work with customers of similar cultures. Show employees that you respect their cultural differences.
Pronouncing Names. It may take some practice in some cases, but ensure you’re able to properly pronounce employees names, especially those in other countries. This will go a long way to gaining their trust and respect.
No matter where your employees live, or where the location is located, ensure you understand that country / area, what drives those employees, the cultural and time zone differences, and the labor laws in those areas. Knowing this information up front can help you create a stronger team and help you motivate your team to do great things.