September 1, 2015.
It’s an important date in Architech’s history. It was then that our first two Polish team members were hired to help us embark on a completely new journey in expanding our team via Kraków, Poland. A deep dive into the unknown. This month, we celebrate the fifth anniversary of Architech’s second office in Kraków! We are so proud to be here in Poland. Like any good story, however, it wasn't just unicorns and rainbows in the beginning. It was a lot of hard work, but the kind of work that made us stronger and brighter as a team. Having distributed teams helped us grow both as an organization and as people. Opening the Kraków office was a milestone for us, especially in light of the ever-changing modern world of work and the future of collaboration.
We had big goals.
We wanted to be able to give our clients the unique benefit of having eyes on their most important projects from two different time zones. With the added service continuity and collaboration, we could better deliver on our goal of service excellence. But like any good adventure, there were bumps in the digital road. As with any different cultures colliding, there are often different working norms. We had to learn how to balance a healthy dose of small talk at the start of a meeting with a ‘get down to business’ approach, on top of adapting to new labour laws.
After five years of practice, we have learned to embrace and rally around the strength from our cultural diversity as one big, unified team. A team that helps all of our clients by sharing experience, technical expertise, and best practices, even though we are physically an ocean away. So, how did we do it? How did we graduate from an empty office in Kraków to a thriving International environment where our teams collaborate seamlessly? We focused on our people. We focused on teamwork. There was a lot of trial and error, but we’ve learned that the following things were crucial to get us to the next level:
- Offer a thorough onboarding process. We all know how important the onboarding process is when it comes to understanding company culture and integrating teams. It’s a lot easier for new team members to adjust when they know what to expect from the very beginning. Thorough onboarding makes it clear what is expected of everyone, and how to leverage the right tools that help people work better together. We’ve found that a cross-cultural onboarding process makes it so much easier for everyone in the company, no matter which office they call home.
- Visit each other! Well, when you can, of course. Before the global pandemic, we got together both physically and virtually to help our team get to know each other. Kick-off for a new project? Just hired? Let’s go to the Toronto HQ! Let your team members meet, bond, and become friends. This creates a closer team, better teamwork, and a stronger organization.
- Use technology to keep your teams up to date. A strong team is a team that is informed and connected – whether it’s intranet, online communication channels, socials, a company TV news network, or a monthly newsletter. All ideas welcome! Let people create their own channels that align with their interests. This constant information flow ensures a better understanding of company values, vision, and structure. Most importantly, it brings people closer. Sharing information and findings with teammates help people bond and makes for a better workplace for everyone.
- Plan things together! No matter how big or small. It’s always nice to have a doughnut on Fat Thursday, even in Canada. We make a point to always celebrate important days together. Create volunteer initiatives to give team members the opportunity to work together towards goals that are personally important to them. When you share these accomplishments with the whole team, everyone rallies around each other.
While working on two different continents has sometimes had its challenges, we’ve been able to learn and collaborate to deliver service excellence to our clients and bring more diversity of thought into our work to create highly skilled teams. To accomplish this, the three keys to success were simple: keep the information flowing, understand and embrace cultural differences, and always respect each other.