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Creating collaboration: How globally dispersed teams stay connected

Global enterprises like Chevron and IBM face challenges with dispersed teams, time zones, and regional regulations. Explore insights, solutions, and the need for interoperability.
Examples of companies with the biggest global teams, including Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, and IBM

Chevron. Exxon Mobil. Microsoft. Johnson & Johnson. IBM. Ford. Walmart. 

What do these organizations have in common? 

Other than being industry titans, each of these enterprises rank within the world’s top 100 multinational companies (World Investment Report). 

The concept of a globally dispersed team is by no means revolutionary. With the rise of the remote workplace, teams can be hired from anywhere. 

After all, almost all of the previously multinational companies have around 50% or more of their staffing based outside of the United States. 83% of Coca-Cola’s workforce is based outside of the US; other examples include Johnson & Johnson at 73%, GE at 65%, and Mondelez at 85% (American Enterprise Institute). 

Employees have more flexibility than ever, tapping into roles within organizations that may be multiple time zones away. 

The same goes for employers. The ability to reach talent around the world has created a diverse and dispersed hiring pool. 

But, being a multinational enterprise does not come without challenges. Specifically, keeping regionally disparate teams connected and productive is an ongoing challenge. 

Today, we’ll take a closer look into the collaboration struggles faced by globally dispersed teams and what Mio is doing to solve them. 

The complications of technology 

Collaborating with coworkers is not always easy, even within teams based in the same location. 

When time zones, language barriers, cultural differences, and large physical distances come into play, collaboration becomes exceedingly difficult. 

As Tsedal Neely, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, writes for the Harvard Business Review:

“When team members come from different countries and functional backgrounds and are working in different locations, communication can rapidly deteriorate, misunderstanding can ensue, and cooperation can degenerate into distrust.” 

One would think that technology solves all of these issues. After all, isn’t that what it’s for? 

The power of choice: a double-edged sword 

While instant messaging and video conferencing plays a huge role in keeping global teams connected, it can also do more harm than good. 

Jack Conlin, Channel Manager, Mio, shares:

“We often see global enterprises give their regional teams the autonomy to customize their tech stack according to their needs. This autonomy makes it increasingly challenging to standardize on a single communication tool that will be the right fit for every employee in the company.  
What typically ends up happening is different regions will live on separate chat platforms. The team in EMEA will use Google Chat and their colleagues in LATAM will be on Microsoft Teams.”

While the power of choice is beneficial to creating a positive employee experience, it makes communicating with other regions a challenging task. 

Having regional teams live on different chat platforms isn’t a challenge just for employees, either. Admins take on the additional burden of maintaining multiple apps and managing licensing structures. 

Regional regulations and restrictions

Also worth mentioning is the challenge of working through regional technology restrictions.

For example, an industry-leading manufacturing company has a large portion of their international employees on Google Workspace (GWS), but due to China’s ban on Google and Google-related services, GWS was not possible for their China-based team. They use Microsoft Teams for their China employees, and GWS for everyone else.

To solve this problem, they are evaluating Mio to bridge the gap between their siloed employees in Google Chat and Microsoft Teams.

Jake Bailey, Chief Commercial Officer, Mio, says:

“Interoperability is not just a convenience but a necessity in today’s global landscape. While Microsoft Teams became available in China in 2023, Google is still banned. This regulation has caused unavoidable fragmentation that multi-nationals are forced to address.”

When it comes to technological regulations, data protection is another point of contention.

The European Union mandates that organizations processing the personal data of EU-based citizens must be General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) certified. Additionally, companies in the European Union must have their data hosted within the EU. This adds another layer of complexity when selecting technological options.

Jacob Ross, Chief Product Officer, Mio, adds:

“Security is an obvious priority when dealing with employee data. That’s why we’ve made it a priority to be SOC-II Type 2 certified, adhere to GDPR guidelines, and implement controls from the CCPA framework. Mio never stores messages or files and never asks for more permissions than necessary, because we understand that keeping personal data classified is of the utmost importance for any enterprise."

To learn more about Mio’s security posture, please visit our security center

Conclusion 

Investing in the experience of global employees is the only way for multinational enterprises to keep up with the modern workplace. 

While siloed regional departments, time zones, and different chat platforms pose a significant challenge, it’s not one that comes without a solution. 

Cross-platform interoperability allows all employees to stay on their platform of choice and communicate seamlessly with international coworkers. 

If collaboration interoperability sounds like the solution to connecting your global teams, visit our homepage to learn more.

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