Global communication is hard for any company to wrap its head around, especially when considering the daunting task of handling communications across time zones, countries, cultures and teams. Thus, a fear develops in global organizations — that no matter how much effort they put in, they will never be able to achieve the same level of collaboration that small organizations can where everyone is in the same building. But despite the troubles that companies encounter with global communication — such as confusion, disorganization, miscommunication and unproductive collaboration — the belief that it is not possible to achieve ultimate collaboration is false. Any company, even those with locations around the world, can achieve efficient communication if the right goals are set and the right tools are used to help accomplish them.
If you're unsure about how to make the most out of collaboration in a global organization, here are a few tips that can help you communicate as efficiently as possible.
1. Use a tool that enables document collaboration
In order for the best communication to be accomplished, the right tool needs to be in place and used consistently. Although there are many tools in the market, we recommend Atlassian Confluence. No matter where your teams work, teams need to be able to create documents together, and this is a particularly challenging task when people work in different time zones. By using a tool like Confluence, teams can track editing history in a document to monitor progress of assignments and documents, as well as allow anyone, from anywhere to contact the last person who contributed. This provides essential strings for collaboration — track editing history informs everyone of what is being worked on, and moreover, who else in the company is working on it.
This alone improves collaboration and teamwork because everyone on the team can see how everyone else is contributing to the document.
Confluence also allows the ability to create standardization and structure to such documents so that style is consistent. Therefore, people can focus on creating the content rather than on its formatting and structure.
2. Make sure your platform is standardizing everything for everyone
Not everything is as easy as it seems in a collaborative platform — especially if it is made to be accessed by members who are based worldwide. That's why it is important to make the user interface as easy to understand as possible, and to standardize everything (or as much as possible) for everyone. For example, templates will help standardize documents, making it easy for people to simply fill in content with all information that is needed. Standardization is important because it makes it easier for everyone in the company to contribute, communicate and collaborate — no matter where they are working from in the world.
3. Show the right content to the right people
On one hand, it's great that anyone can create and view content. The downside, however, is that the high volume of content can become overwhelming. Even in a totally open culture, not everyone needs to (or wants to) see everything. Organizations using a collaboration tool to improve communications may want to consider functionality that allow teams to show and/or hide content.
ServiceRocket created an add-on to Confluence that allows content creators to show or hide specific content on specific documents. With this Visibility add-on, anyone could structure a document so that certain content is hidden based on who is viewing it. This is important when you want a certain user type to not get distracted by detail as they review the document. The point is to make content available, but to also only show relevant content to the right people.
Improving collaboration is a huge challenge, and true collaboration can only be effective when tools are synced with culture. Just because you have a tool does not mean it will be used. In order to get the most out of the tool, it should have the features you need, it should allow for standardization of content and it should empower content creators to share the right information with the right people.
Call for comments:
- If you are a global organization, what communication problems do you face?
- If there was any feature you could add to your collaborative platform, what would it be?