Business growth is the ultimate goal for most organizations. To reduce growing pains and ensure a more profitable path to growth, you need a repeatable—yet flexible—workplace strategy.
An effective global workplace strategy comes down to your team’s ability to systematize and communicate workplace processes. It’s also important to strike the right balance between standardization and localization. Taking the time to define these parts of your strategy will help you scale it across multiple offices worldwide.
Review your processes
Start with an audit. Seek to standardize why, when, and how your team and employees will use key processes and practices. Review these processes and consider how they might be impacting your ability to scale your strategy across offices.
There are three types of processes to analyze:
- Team-based processes
These are processes specific to your workplace team. They include quarterly planning, goal setting and tracking, and communication and approval guidelines.
- Work-based processes
These are processes that define how your workplace team does everyday tasks. This might include managing vendors, finding a new office space, and creating requests for proposals (RFPs).
- Workplace-based processes
These are processes and policies that all employees use. This likely includes how to submit workplace or IT requests, how to reserve conference rooms or desks, and what to do in an emergency.
You’ll need to understand these processes to execute the next step: communicating workplace policies across each of your locations.
Get clear on team communication
Establishing a communication policy is most important for global organizations. Since there’s a limited window of time for everyone to work together, teams need to be intentional about how they communicate. Define your team’s work hours and be sure people know when colleagues in different offices are at work. For instance, you may ask that teams report in for work earlier or later than the typical 9-to-5 to expand this window.
Be deliberate about when your team communicates and shares information. What tools should the team use to ask for status updates? Are they the same or different from the tools they should use to ask team members for feedback and reviews?
Finally, create best practices that help facilitate purposeful communication. Make the most of shared working hours by reserving this time for group collaboration and team meetings. Also, give plenty of context in emails and direct messages so your recipient doesn’t have to follow-up.
Make it easy to get and give help
It’s important to outline how employees get support from your workplace teams. Your team may receive requests through different channels and in different formats. This can make it difficult to review every request and even harder to prioritize and keep track of them.
To resolve this, document a process employees should follow to submit requests and ensure that it is straightforward. Include your team’s service-level agreement about how quickly the workplace team will respond to requests. This will help set expectations and incentivize workers to go through the proper channels.
Finally, consider sending employees regular feedback surveys. This can help you understand where and how to improve your team’s processes and touchpoints with the rest of the organization.
Balance standardization and localization
Standardization reduces ambiguity, streamlines workflows, and creates a consistent experience for employees. But, local rules and regulations make it hard to reproduce across offices without any customization. Each country and often each city has its own laws on employee pay, health and safety, and hiring practices.
Cultural differences between offices may also require breaking from the standard. For instance, your US office may have an open seating plan with unassigned desks. However, in Japan, it’s typical to arrange desks in rows so that managers can see that their reports are working. In this scenario, it makes sense to localize rather than standardize.
First, work with your legal and HR teams to lay out the processes that must be standard across all offices. An example might be that all guests need to sign the same version of your non-disclosure agreement before their visit.
As you begin to form these processes, you might find that it’s sensible to localize certain aspects of the workplace. For example, you may want to offer training programs in several languages to be sure employees across all offices can take part in them.
As a rule of thumb, don’t assume that you will need to do things differently at each location. But remain flexible if the need arises. Although standardization is the goal, take care not to be too rigid. Giving teams the freedom to experiment and try new ways of doing things can promote innovation and productivity.
This is only a starting point for building a workplace strategy that scales. To be successful, your strategy must be well-defined with the right team, processes, and technology in place. Read our latest ebook to learn how to define and launch a global workplace strategy.