It’s easier than ever to connect across the world, which makes every business a global one. There are no longer restrictions on when you work or how you work, as we have the tools to work from the most remote corners of the world.
As you travel more, either personally, as a digital nomad or to conduct business, you begin to learn how others in the world handle work. There are different approaches to work/life balance, different traditions and different expectations – along with many, many similarities.
Forming productive, strong relationships with colleagues or business partners requires you to recognize and adapt to these differences. I’ve traveled the world and worked remotely for the past year, and have these seven quick tips to make your next trip a bit easier:
- Recognize cultural differences. Global team members or clients will think differently than you - and that’s a good thing. Their approach to problems, how they structure their work day and how they communicate are all opportunities for you to learn and reflect on your own perspectives.
- Learn a few words of the language. If you’re traveling abroad, spend a few minutes on the plane brushing up on the language of your destination country. Start with the basics - hello, how are you, thank you, please, goodbye, where’s the bathroom. It will help you out in some of your daily interactions, and people generally appreciate the effort. For everything else, download the language on Google Translate.
- Learn the typical greetings in a business setting. Is it a single kiss on the cheek? Double? Handshake? Going in for a kiss on the cheek when your client presents their hand is not something you want to mess up.
- Double check the time zones. Make it easy for the person you’re communicating with by including their local time zone (along with yours, if necessary) in the note when you’re scheduling, and be conscious of when you’re scheduling things out of office hours. Make sure flexibility on these early-morning or late-night meetings is reciprocated and balanced across teams so the burden doesn’t fall on one party. And, to avoid confusion and back-and-forth questions, specify the time zone after any time you ever write or say.
- Remember that holidays and vacation schedules are all different. It’s normal for Europeans to take off weeks at a time during the summer, for instance, which requires you to plan ahead on projects. Be sure to check ahead of time for upcoming holidays to make sure your colleagues or clients are available.
- Don’t share the wrong date. Americans are very used to using a mm/dd/yyyy format for shorthand dates, but the majority of countries use a dd/mm/yyyy format, and many Asian countries start with the year. If you write 4/12/2018 thinking you’re scheduling a meeting in April, your colleague may think you’re planning for an end-of-the-year meeting in December.
- And finally, a speed round of travel tips:
- Always go carry-on, and make use of suitcase cubes to help you maximize the space.
- For tightly packed trips, having access to an airport lounge can help you freshen up in the airport before a meeting without needing a hotel room.
- Always have a power bank (and these other remote work must-haves). You never know if you’ll be able to find an outlet or if the charger at your seat is broken. Also on that note, get a universal adapter, so you don’t have to worry about finding the right adapter – especially for countries with multiple kinds of outlets.
- Bring your own food on long flights and avoid airline eggs or other tasteless mush without starving yourself.
- Take advantage of early morning or late evening hours to explore your destination. It’s easy to only see the insides of a conference room or hotel room, but a morning hike, bike ride or post-work cocktail crawl can help you get to know the city.