Today’s global workforce spans many countries, cultures and perspectives. As this rapidly growing network of disparate workers becomes more interconnected into our organizations via telecommuting, the challenge of managing the complexity of holiday traditions, vacations and time off exponentially increases.
Despite our ability to connect with the global marketplace, many of us remain wholly unfamiliar in the cultures and customs of our fellow team members. In the modern global business environment, it is critical to understand how different people and countries perceive time off.
To overcome these issues, there are a few things that a team leader can do:
Understand how other counties view time off and work ethic:
We all approach our holidays, traditions, and customs in many different ways. Given this, you must understand your team’s cultural expectations and perceptions of time off. Each of us have varying views on what a vacation or holiday even means. Some workers prefer to completely disconnect and disappear, while others may happily spend their vacation obsessively checking and responding to email and attending calls through collaboration tools like those found in PGi’s rich product portfolio. Whereas some view time off as an earned luxury, others may be reluctant to take a vacation as they feel they could fall behind and be viewed as a weak link on the team.
Familiarize yourself with your team’s observances and holidays:
As a global team leader you should be familiar with the holidays and observances that are important to your individual team members, in addition to those that are important to specific countries and regions. For example, most of Europe is in a state of extended holiday for multiple months during the summer season, with many workers being completely out of contact for a month or more at a time. You can conduct your research and planning with this comprehensive holidays and observances around the world tool.
Create a master global calendar:
Create and manage a master global calendar that the entire team can access whether in the office or remote via telecommuting. This can provide a holistic view of the team’s availability and identify any foreseeable gaps in resources. With multiple workers in various regions and a myriad of connection possibilities, a cloud-based software solution such as is a no-brainer. You can connect and collaborate easily, from any device, anywhere.
Include major cultural holidays and observances on the master schedule:
This can foster greater understanding and appreciation of the cultures and customs between team members, as well as providing a clear overview to the rest of the team. In some cultures, there may be religious holidays that may preclude them from performing any work or work-related activities at all, and some countries simply don’t observe the most popular Western holidays at all, such as Christmas and Independence Day. Awareness and adaptability for these is crucial when scheduling and planning for global teams.
Consider a team-wide shutdown:
If enough of the team’s time away occurs around the same time, a team-wide closure may offer a cohesive approach to balancing/managing the gaps in coverage that can sabotage a project or initiative. When feasible, try to wrap up any large projects before extended leave and/or vacations occur and consider scheduling any project milestones or deliverables so that they coincide with the availability of the relative team members.
Remember to schedule your own time off:
Being a global manager can certainly take a toll. Make sure your master schedule includes your own time off; every leader must eventually rest, relax and recuperate as well. Also consider periodic telework for yourself as well, giving you an opportunity to set an example for your team and return recharged with a fresh perspective.
As a manager you understand that communication is key. By communicating with your team members and taking into consideration their various perspective of vacation time and observed holidays, you’ll significantly improve your ability to keep things running smooth, year-round.
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