I’m currently on a team with people who work in different countries. This question makes the assumption that it is better to have some level of interpersonal connection among team members; we are seeking an increase in camaraderie. There’s nothing any of us can do about the organizational structure (which we can all agree is not ideal) and travel is not on the table.
There are 10 of us. Here’s a breakdown of who works where, in case it’s relevant:
• 2 in the US – including me
• 1 in the UK – the person I work with most
• 1 in Germany – works closely with one of the people in France
• 6 in France – including two interns and the manager of the team
The people in France go out together sometimes and see each other every day, so they are all fairly close with one another. Similarly, the two of us in the US are nicely well acquainted even though we don’t collaborate on many projects. The people in France feel disconnected from the rest of us, and the people in the UK and Germany feel pretty isolated (understandably).
Our company has offices in all of these locations—so nobody’s completely alone—we’re just looking to foster a more unified dynamic so that we can understand each other as 3‑dimensional people and feel more directly connected to the benefit we each provide to the team. The idea is that if we’re a little more connected, we can better share in our collective successes and better support one another when things don’t go well for one or some of us.
I’m envisioning a technological solution (though I’m open to other types of suggestion). We currently use Outlook, Lync, and Sharepoint, but I don’t find any of these to be conducive to the outcomes we want and the fact that we already use them heavily for business purposes seems like a minus, not a plus. I think it makes sense to think of this as a non-work thing.
For the purposes of focusing the discussion, I’ll add that I’m most interested in hearing from people who share my team’s view of feeling more connected in ones work environment. I understand that efforts in this vein will seem distracting or prohibitively awkward to some, but I’d like to reserve debate on the merits of maintaining a baseline level of casual interpersonal connection for another question, another day.