Traversing The Globe: The Benefits of Developing International Business Relationships
By Emily McCormack, Senior Account Executive
In an interconnected global economy, more and more businesses are working across multiple locations, serving different international markets. Building strong working relationships internationally is therefore a key challenge for businesses today. Whilst technology has made long distance collaboration easier, in person meetings remain vital for fostering these positive connections.
Having reinstated our inter-office travel scheme as soon as possible after the pandemic, Touchdown allows employees around the globe to visit their international teammates, in order to develop stronger working relationships. In the last month alone UK team members Emily and Olivia visited our office in Austin, US team members Chris and Lauren visited our Basingstoke office, and UK Team members Sam and Xander visited the office in Munich. This blog will explore the benefits of these visits and explain exactly why we’re so passionate about them.
Foster collaboration with colleagues
As a global PR agency, we work with our colleagues in different countries every single day. Technology goes a long way to making those working relationships smooth and easy – we can chat regularly via instant message and have video meetings multiple times a week. However, at the end of the day, there’s nothing like spending time together in person for deepening those relationships.
During their trip to Austin, Account Manager Olivia Manning and Senior Account Executive Emily McCormack were able to have in person meetings with US team members they’d worked with virtually for years, and were able to better understand their working styles, personalities, and ethos. Experiencing their day to day gave them insights into ways to collaborate more effectively going forward.
They also got to spend time with the team outside of work – and have a cocktail or two together – which helped them build warmer relationships that they will carry forward into their work together. They’ve already seen the benefits since returning, and the global team is now stronger than ever.
Exchange of knowledge
Another key benefit of inter-office travel is the ability to learn from the wider team. Travelling to international offices brings together individuals with different career backgrounds, allowing them to share their expertise with each other. Meeting and working with professionals who have different specialisms and knowledge than those we work with day to day is a fantastic opportunity to learn.
The crossover of ideas often leads to innovation – and team members often find themselves returning home with fresh approaches and new ideas. This is a great way for employees to refresh their knowledge and stay ahead of the curve.
A global perspective
Working side by side with international colleagues also provides a valuable insight into the different countries Touchdown operates in. Each market has it’s own nuances, with different challenges and opportunities. Experiencing that first hand allows individuals to develop a broader perspective and better navigate global trends – which becomes a huge advantage once they return home.
Staff who have visited other offices are able to offer our clients a greater depth of knowledge about the strategies that will work best in each region, and are able to suggest where media trends in other countries might impact upon the media landscape in their own.
Personal development and networking
From an individual perspective, inter-office travel brings a whole new meaning to personal development. As well as getting to experience an entirely new culture, employees are able to expand their professional networks and diversify their support system. Connections from across the world are a valuable advantage to carry forward in employees’ careers. In addition, simply experiencing different ways of working in different offices can allow employees to fine tune their own working processes, and boost their productivity going forward.
Building a strong company culture
At Touchdown, we pride ourselves on having an excellent company culture – one that transcends borders. We make an effort to take advantage of technology to keep ourselves connected with our global teammates, and frequently plan joint fundraising efforts or themed days to strengthen our sense of a unified team (check out our recent US/UK Barbie day).
Team visits are a great way to build on and supplement this. For example, whilst in Austin, Olivia and Emily were able to attend the US summer social – spending a day on the lake enjoying the Austin sunshine. They got to chat with the whole team, and built connections that will last well beyond their visits. Similarly, Sam and Xander attended the German Biergarten event – spending time with both their German colleagues and local journalists. These kinds of global social interactions are vital for building a more cohesive and supportive working environment – and they can often extend beyond the professional setting into lifelong friendships!
What our employees have to say
“Although remote working has allowed us to build a great working dynamic already, it’s not the same as meeting colleagues face-to-face. By visiting Munich and spending time with the team, I got to know the people behind the thumbnails, and I can’t wait until our next drink in the Biergarten!” – Sam McLeish, Junior Account Executive
“Above all, the main benefit I took away from my time in Austin was deepening my working relationships with those in the US. I work very closely with the US team on numerous accounts and we’ve always have a good working relationship, but nothing compares to seeing people in person. Spending time together and not just working in the same space, but getting to know my colleagues outside of the work environment has really benefited me. Whereas before it could almost be a little daunting having to send that “silly question” into the group chat, now I’m more than happy to reach out. It’s made my confidence a lot stronger and my communication 100 times better!” – Abby Simpson, Senior Account Executive
“Having recently had the chance to go to Munich to work alongside my German colleagues during their Bier-Garten event has been a highlight of my career and enabled me to develop my relationships with a group of people who, for the longest time, had been pixels on a screen.” – Xander Hall, Senior Account Executive
“Emily and I work with the US team across our accounts day-in-day-out but being together in person helped us to get to know them so much better. The impact on how we collaborate as a global team has been instant: We’ve become far better at sharing ideas, pitches and asking one another for help if needed. Discussing our accounts in-person has also allowed us to get a better understanding of the US market, strengthening our ability to give counsel that takes the global picture into account. It was also so much fun to spend quality time with the team and get to know them better.” – Olivia Manning, Account Manager
“Touchdown’s inter-office travel program is something that I’m super grateful that I got the opportunity to do. Not only did I get to have valuable face time with a client that I otherwise would have only known virtually, but I got to really connect and get to know my UK coworkers as well. Overall, the experience made me feel so much more connected to Touchdown and the team as a whole. I would recommend this experience to everyone!” – Lauren Treon, Assistant Account Executive
We’ve established our global network across locations including Munich, Paris, Australia and London, and we’re proud to use our international expertise to craft compelling digital strategies for our clients. Want to get started on a project with us? Share your ideas with our team by getting in touch today.