Rocking all over the world: working as a global team

We’re driven by our values at Kineo, and a core one for me is to put back into our local community. As Kineo has grown our sense of what ‘local’ is has evolved, and our emphasis is as much on being inclusive. Our community is as much virtual as it is about where we live or work.

By thinking inclusively, we don’t think about where someone is, but about who they are - it doesn’t matter if they are in our Brighton office, or Sheffield, Chicago, Cape Town, or Wellington - they’re part of the team.

Like many of our clients, this means we have to grapple with the logistics of what this means in practice. How do we create a coherent sense of team while we are so geographically dispersed? How do we share knowledge and information? How do we create a sense of community?

Here’s some examples of small things that are making a big difference to us.

A picture paints a thousand words

Our annual photography competition is a revelation of creativity and talent. Each week a theme is set, and we all vote on the best entries. It’s been wonderful seeing pictures from Wellington and Cape Town, Sheffield and Chicago. And getting to know more about the photographers and their lives through their work.

The tools of our trade

We’ve been thinking lots about social and informal learning, and how technology is changing the way people learn - and it’s helping us to practise what we preach. In particular we’ve been enthusiastic adopters of Microsoft Teams, with a lot of lively conversations, knowledge sharing, and just-in-time help being shared globally. What’s particularly useful about Office 365 is that it is shared across the rest of the City & Guilds Group, so we can collaborate with our colleagues quickly and informally.

Of course we like to talk to each other - and with handy tools like worldtimebuddy to help us figure out time zones, we talk, screen-share and video conference with each other - just remember to turn off the video if you’re in your pyjamas.

As well as using shared tools for communicating, we are implementing a number of shared business systems so we can collaborate more easily. It’s not trivial to undertake, but proving well worth it.

Changing behaviours

But all the tools and systems in the world won’t make a difference unless people are willing to make that extra effort to be inclusive. There’s no doubt there is an overhead to this.

For instance, we run monthly continuous improvement sessions where we look at what’s gone well and what we can learn from. It’s great when everyone is in the same room - we use whiteboards and Post-it Notes and get very interactive and lively. Thinking about how to recreate that experience when some of the participants are remote is an overhead, but an interesting and creative challenge - how can we exploit technology to achieve similar results? Fortunately we have experts here in designing great virtual classrooms who are encouraging us to get digital, and to test out the kind of solutions we build for our clients.

But perhaps the most important driver for this inclusive way of behaving has been the commitment of our team leaders who have encouraged and reminded people - and focused on the mutual benefits. And so I thank them, and all the people who’ve sat in their pyjamas skyping at night or early morning - it’s all worth it.

 
 
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