8 min read

Cross-Cultural Camaraderie

Working with an international team, and wondering how to break the ice and gel with your colleagues? Here's a detailed guide for you.
Written by
Jonathan Mitchell
Published on
April 12, 2024

Think Bigger When It Comes To First-Time Interactions

If we look into the past and remember the first day of a school year, the pit in your stomach as you searched for a familiar face was almost overwhelming. The desire to have some familiarity with the people you'd be spending the rest of the year with was no joke. Now imagine there's no way to guarantee a familiar face being present. How do you go about integrating with these strangers?

The return to the office has led to interactions between teammates who'd never before met in person. Whether organizations are entirely remote or have fully returned to the office, these first-time meetings often coincide with introductions and team-building activities. There's nothing wrong with cultivating culture. However, doing so in a way that manufactures interactions instead of enabling genuine collaboration will yield different results than what you're looking for. Standing before everyone while saying your name and three fun facts isn't a connective activity, nor does it build the kind of relationship teammates genuinely seek. Creating culture doesn't need to be forcible, nor do people's introductions to said culture. Enabling genuine connections is challenging, but finding a new way there may lead to the kind of cooperation your organization seeks.

“Prior to this Work From Work Week initiative (WWW) when we are working on remote setups we saw a couple team members that were hesitant to speak their heart and discuss things. During the lifecycle of a product there are a couple of areas where people need to speak it up in order to get a better quality product. Here we’re having group discussions but openness during those sessions was a major challenge. Things are already better after our first face-to-face meet up. A couple more (WWW) and we will have more productivity and quality related improvements.” Team Lead Ketan Rai

There's No Need To Break The Ice

As a remote-first organization that's grown through the trials and tribulations of the pandemic, we knew there would be instances of awkwardness as we started our Work From Work Week (WWW) initiative. We have a team of over 300 think'ers, many of whom were hired after the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These teammates have worked synchronously for the past couple of years but are yet to meet face-to-face. WWW changed that, but we didn't feel the need to create some embarrassing team-building exercises to bring people together. These teammates may have talked to each other daily for over two years. It would've been counterintuitive to ask them to be put in an uncomfortable situation to build camaraderie. Instead, we let the initiative serve the purpose of "breaking the ice."

"This is a collaboration from everywhere in India. We could all mingle and talk. We spent time outside the office together and ate together. If you wanted to have coffee or tea for a break, you can. I could talk with a person for that one week, and it feels like we've spoken more than we had all year. The communication gap has been reduced." Developer Aniyan C.

Collaboration And Empowerment Go Hand in Hand

WWW is orchestrated so that the benefits are holistic. think'ers get to meet in person for the first time in certain situations. They play table tennis, go out for a coffee, and enjoy the view from our Pune collaboration space. They may only be in our collaboration space for a few days. Still, the time spent together sows beneficial seeds that last long beyond this singular week. There is an emphasis on creating a comprehensive experience, but there's plenty of productivity wrapped into this initiative. The objectives differ for every team, but brainstorming serves an integral role in the sessions we have. It's here that every think'er can provide unique perspectives on the problem. Collaboration is instinctual. The power of many minds coming together in this setting is exhilarating. Teammates who may have never before seen one another before WWW are eliminating blockers left and right. Solutions are found and relationships strengthened as teammates understand each other's worth. Mindsets are altered, preconceived notions shattered, and progress is made. These individuals have been working together in a remote setting for varying lengths of time, but in our collaboration space, new epiphanies are easier to come by. Individual think'ers placed in a cooperative environment organically enables stronger relationships. Every organization is in the people business. With WWW, we're finding new levels of empathy and discussion that coincide perfectly with productivity.

"The infrastructure was awesome. Everyone has their own knowledge that will be shared. If it's not shared, then nothing will happen. If you share, that knowledge will spread. The way I spoke to someone before WWW is entirely different than how I speak to them afterward." Developer Aniyan C.

MEET THE TEAM

Anand Krishnan

CEO and Managing Partner

Andrew Zarkadas

Vice President - Growth

Shamik Mitra

Vice President - Client Services

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