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Note: The following article was included in our Jan. 2016 intercultures e-newsletter. Email the Editor to receive our next bi-monthly edition in your inbox well in advance of website postings. We offer fresh, intercultural information and insights for working better globally.

Screenshot of our Nov. 2015 Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)-themed core team meeting.

It’s not our funniest riddle for you, but a riddle nonetheless: What does intercultures do every six weeks between seven cities in 30 minutes? 

Answer: We build Virtual Closeness among our core team members as we meet via videoconference to report new news, discuss it and ask for/offer collaboration from one another on the business of our global organization.

One of us in particular tends to share jokes that earn laughs only in that they’re not so funny! When the jokes fall “flat,” we laugh together and are reminded of both the challenge and importance of sharing humor in international work environments.

We’re not all fun and games. Virtual Closeness is the mode through which we work better globally as a provider of competence-based intercultural training, coaching and consulting. Virtual Closeness describes the perceived closeness between group or team members—as well as their perceived closeness to their shared work context, and the web-based space wherein they interact—after a period of little to no face-to-face contact (Closeness at a Distance). Our leadership makes practical and concerted efforts to create the feeling of closeness at a distance between us. The following is a list of some of the ways intercultures builds Virtual Closeness with our overall global network, and between some or all core team members, most of whom represent intercultures’ Global Head Office, intercultures Central and Eastern Europe, intercultures Spain and intercultures swiss.

  • Virtual interview processes via videoconference for those out of country
  • Virtual inclusion of out-of-country team members to in-office job interviews
  • Overlap of work hours between time zones to enable more immediate response via email or instant message (IM)
  • To add a visual component, use of videoconference for meetings—both internally and externally—including our regular core team meetings, sessions with business partners, occasional lunches with our geographically dispersed team, etc.
  • Voice-to-voice calls between core team members either in lieu of, or in accompaniment to, emails
  • Virtual birthday cards to intercultures Consultants!
  • Use of the carbon copy (cc) email option—and not blind carbon copy (bcc)—to keep team members “in the loop” on work items of which they are, or may not be, centrally involved
  • Use of personal remarks within email communications (e.g.,“Greetings from the Berlin S-Bahn“; „Warm regards from snowy Zurich“; „How’s your planning going for the Chinese New Year?,“ etc.)
  • Sharing photos among team of f2f (face-to-face) encounters with out-of-country colleagues, training participants in action, etc. (e.g. the photo above)
  • F2f (re)connections with our team and intercultures Consultants—including organizational dinners—at the biennial SIETAR Europa congresses and SIETAR Deutschland forums
  • F2f visits for (branch) office events, business strategy planning meetings, collaborative meetings with sets of in-country intercultures Consultants, etc.
Book Cover, Closeness at a Distance

Book Cover, Closeness at a Distance

Through the practice of Virtual Closeness, we make and maintain an organization that is not only international—but global. The distinguishing factor between global and international organizations is mutual commitment, connectedness and collective effort. Both kinds of organizations have multiple sites around the world, yet it’s the experience of unity and mutual ownership on the part of workers that animates and advances an international organization to global status.

Virtual Management is one of intercultures’ core competences. In workspaces of increasing global complexity, we partner with clients to develop solutions that meet your business objectives. Within our portfolio of services, we also offer Virtual Performance Improvement  (VPI®) and Virtual Performance Assessment (VPA®) for businesss  and consultants. These tools support more precise and successful management of virtual collaboration as your gateway to solutions to the key challenges that face international teams, groups and networks.

For all that we offer, we’re in need of some funny jokes! Please send some our way, we’ll „test“ them at our next core team meeting!