I am about to reach my one year mark on board with Forum, and it has been, and still is, a learning journey for me every day. The biggest change for me was the transition from working in a local company to a global, regionally structured company. Forum is based in the United States with offices in Europe, Asia and Australia so my colleagues are truly spread across the globe! Taking up the marketing role which covers Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) was indeed a challenge for me versus marketing locally to Asia in my previous roles. Below are two of the biggest transitions I had to go through, and how I learned overcome them.
I remember as part of my onboarding plan, I was not able to meet much of my immediate team in person and had to call because they are located in other offices across the globe. Speaking to colleagues with different accents became a norm for me. As it was my first time, I learned by giving more attention and effort to listen carefully to what they were saying. It was also difficult because I could not put a name to a face immediately. It took me awhile to get used to it, but now I enjoy talking to them every day!
I get to learn more about the working styles of colleagues from other countries, as well. For instance, I experienced that Asians, in general, tend to be serious at work, whereas Brits and Americans, on top of serious discussions, sometimes like to add jokes to move things forward in a lighthearted way. I even learned to understand the different kind of jokes between regions, which are really interesting. I found Americans to be more obvious in their jokes while Brits tend to be more subtle. I still remembered an American colleague in the team used to humourously describe me as “noisy” when I was very quiet at work. I ended up finding myself sometimes in a day putting on different “hats” to differentiate them. It wasn’t easy but was fun at the same time. If you have an example of differences in global humor, please share in the comments, I would love to see more examples!
Time Zones Differences
It is part of my role to regularly attend meetings with my marketing team who are sitting across the globe in the United States and the United Kingdom, I have come to appreciate technology more since our main communication tools are email, phone and video chats. Even though we are not able to meet in person, it is great how sometimes we can see each other through video chats and don’t feel the distance at all. This was a new experience for me. When setting up campaigns or hosting live webinars, I have to be mindful of the time zone differences especially when it is a regional or global campaign taking place across multiple countries. With the different time zones and daylight savings time happening in certain period within the year, I have to rely on meeting planner online to ensure I get the time correct.
I recently read a piece of article written by my colleague Andrew Shapiro, Forum EMEA’s vice president and sales director, on “How to Deal when Employees are scattered across the World” In this article, he makes a great point:
“Today’s office environment is becoming obsolete. With companies expanding globally and seeking talent across time zones, the workplace environment is evolving and, as a result, so is the way employees interact and collaborate with each other.”
What lessons have you learned working in a company spread across the globe? Share in the comments below or join the conversation on social media.