Borderless businesses require an innovative approach to culture

In just a few short years, technology and innovation have delivered solutions that allow business to be less restricted by physical boundaries and open up the corporate world to the opportunity of working with the very best global talent. Navigating the borderless working model is driving new aspects of inclusion and company culture. There are global challenges to working across borders, cultures and languages and measuring and delivering the right cultural message is an intrinsic part of building a successful global team. Defining whatworkplace culture looks like in most organisations is vague, most easily described as being an organisation’s “DNA”. It is a short-cut to talk about the way an individual employer functions and the principles it lives by.

Culturally businesses, particularly as they are growing, are often naturally a reflection of their founders. As the new workforce is engaged and grows new people will mirror the cultural approach of the team that they are joining. Looking for someone who is a ‘good fit’ with the team already in place, particularly if they are a small team, isn’t unusual. But to create a team that drives innovation, delivers suggestions that are fresh and encourages idea sharing then multiple voices, perspectives and personalities with an open exchange that can inspire that creativity and drive change. 

The sharp rise in use of communication tools, tech and data have opened the possibilities for any size business to look further afield for their workforce. Developments in ways to collaborate, use of cloud technology and improved data management mean borderless working can now work for most and clients have become accustomed to and comfortable with a virtual working model. Technically, borderless working can be done, but the question remains of whether culturally it is possible. 

Culturally diverse businesses will attract talented, ambitious, and globally minded professionals who are looking for opportunities for personal and professional growth. In a diverse workplace, employees given the opportunity to deliver unique contributions drive personal value and therefore loyalty. A company with cultural and cognitive diversity can be quicker to understand the needs of clients and prospects, meaning a more competitive and profitable business model. Demonstrating that your business is invested in fostering a culturally inclusive environment and prepared to challenge the status quo can drive a positive client response. 

There are some considerations to planning such a diverse business structure. Individuals from different cultural backgrounds can view working environments differently; how one member of the team approaches collaborative working might be entirely different to their co-worker in a different jurisdiction. Non verbal communication can be a delicate and nuanced part of cultural interaction that can lead to misinterpretation. Colleagues from different cultures can also bring with them different workplace attitudes, values, behaviours and etiquette. While these can be enriching and even beneficial in a diverse professional environment, it can be a challenging to integrate. Conversely, bringing local connections and insight, native language and cultural understanding into your business can boost your international business development exponentially. 

A healthy internal culture has long been seen as a building block of performance, belonging and success. Building this across multiple continents, jurisdictions and national cultures requires a programme that will not crumble and be put to one side, that allows for dynamic conversation and an open approach from leadership. A sound principle of cultural transition and change is that it comes from the margins. Bottom up and multi level collaboration and decentralised cultural idea sharing can lead to longer term success in maintaining change. Allowing the workforce to share ideas, find common themes and identify outside of the corporate communication model can build an excellent sense of team.  

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