When I was asked by the Marketing Communications department to explore the possibility of writing a post on “Interculture” for the corporate blog, my immediate reaction was that it was the perfect topic. I deeply felt the need to do justice to the subject, considering that I was the perfect example of someone who has experienced many cultural differences during my three-year stay in Germany as an Indian.
So, what did I need to really focus on in my blog post? Would it be the usual West vs. East cultural differences, or did I need to pinpoint the differences between continents or countries? I finally decided to focus the post on the intercultural collaboration that exists within the organization and recount my experience of dealing with colleagues across the globe.
During my first month at the corporate head office in Munich, I was amazed to witness the successful integration of cultures across international office locations. Everyone in the organization is on first name terms. I truly felt this was remarkable, considering that there are 358 employees across fifteen office locations. Indeed, this presents a perfect picture of how global the company is.
How Was it Possible for Colleagues to Know Each Other so Well?
This contrasts my earlier professional experience, where I hardly got to know or interact with colleagues from different divisions and subsidiaries. Even the possibility of dealing with an international colleague those days seemed like a remote fantasy.
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When I spoke to HR Manager Inga Arneberg about the organization’s workforce, she explained that the company put emphasis on openness among employees of all roles and departments. Inga further added that there are currently employees from 22 nations working at EQS, and that women contribute close to one third of the total workforce – significantly higher than the average percentage of women employed in the technology sector. Meanwhile, Joel Tan, a project manager based in Singapore, feels that the company has cultivated a positive, team-oriented working environment across subsidiaries, which helps employees feel more confident and at the same time improves efficiency.
How are International Projects Implemented?
I decided to share this interesting observation with Christian Herzog, Project Management and Managing Director of the Indian subsidiary of EQS Group. He agreed with Inga that the company fosters a culture of open, non-hierarchical communication. Over the years, EQS has emerged as an attractive employer especially for a younger generation with intercultural project implementation skills. Every employee is equipped with a headset and webcam to connect with international colleagues for client activities. Employees are required to communicate for client projects through Skype for Business, Atlassian’s Confluence and JIRA on a daily basis. He stressed that this was important to ensure smooth collaboration between all project members.
One example of our international collaboration was an extensive corporate website project we undertook for a UK client. The client and account management was from UK, whilst the design and project management of the website was carried out in Germany. Additionally, several developers from India and Germany were part of the technical implementation process.
To strengthen this international collaboration and ensure the success of these processes, colleagues from the specific subsidiaries are given the opportunity to visit the main office and vice versa every year. Christian added that such initiatives have helped to create a sense of familiarity and bonding among the multicultural talent pool (see also our blog post about an international cooking event).
From my individual perspective, arranging international visits for employees irrespective of seniority is a great motivating factor that boosts employee morale within an organization. This enables the employee to create a sense of belonging and a feeling of being appreciated, as he or she feels rewarded for his or her contribution. I feel this is a successful, non-monetary way of motivating talent at EQS. I wish more employers would realize that many of their employees also cherish the opportunity to explore different cultures and experiences. Hopefully they will incorporate it into their corporate culture the way EQS does.
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