Global Virtual Teams: Should you email or call?

Intra-team communication within virtual teams who are working across the barriers of culture, language, geography and technology is bound to present certain challenges which are less problematic amongst co-located teams.  Many of these communication challenges are cultural in origin and this blog highlights one such challenge.

One major cultural difference in terms of global communication is that some cultures place far greater emphasis on the importance of oral communication between people whilst others prefer the written word.

In countries such as Germany and Sweden, only when something has been communicated in writing does that issue become a reality. However, other cultures (such as Italy or Saudi) place much greater emphasis on the value of spoken communication – things are only really believed when they have been communicated by people with whom they have a strong, trusting relationship.

This simple fact can have a major impact on communication flow and the achievement of objectives within, for example, an international team. Do you communicate to each team member in exactly the same format regardless of their cultural background? Might it be a good idea to communicate more information orally to certain people if you want them to fully ‘buy-in’ to what you want to achieve whereas email communication may be more successful with other people?

Agreeing communication protocols in advance is a critical element in making global virtual team work effectively – and this is just one specific example of the things that need to be looked at.

For more information on this and other global virtual team issues contact me at keith@globalbusinessculture.com