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The Cultures That Make Us: Redefining What It Means to Be a Global Village

The term global village was coined by the Canadian thinker Marshall McLuhan and he defined it as the world becoming a single community who are interconnected through technology. But is that all there is to become a global village?

Arcadis Gen draws on the benefits of international diversity, bringing together people from many cultures with varied work experiences and different perspectives on strategic and organizational challenges. We believe that appreciation for diversity is at the heart of managing a global village like ours.

But as we expand internationally, we learned that it’s not just about creating an organizational culture for everyone to follow but understanding the nuances of the different geographical cultures that make up our organization and the essential aspects along which those cultures vary.

We don’t work like clockwork

A global company operating in different time zones is nothing new. However they choose to expand, the international offices still adjust to the time zone where their HQ is located. In a sense, Arcadis Gen has this system in place. The employees residing in the UK gets up bright and early to start their workday while employees from India and the Philippines for example start their day a little later in the afternoon, allowing for more time for themselves in the morning.

To be completely honest, it’s not something everybody follows on the dot, and that’s okay. As long as we accomplish our respective tasks efficiently and that we are not causing inconvenience to any of our colleagues.

Case in point, our marketing team is made up of employees from different places in the UK and in the Philippines. Normally, their everyday catch-up is for agreeing on priorities for the day. But if some employees residing in Manila felt like starting their workday early, during the catch-up instead of sharing what their priorities are, they share what they’ve already accomplished. Resulting not only in them having an earlier timeout, but also speeding up the timeline for the group’s projects.

This isn’t expected of everyone, and it’s totally up to our employees how they manage their time and tasks efficiently. And the lack of strict rules regarding office hours gives everyone a little breathing room to be more productive on their own terms.

A lot of positive results came out of having this little breathing room and one of the things that I gained from this is that I pay extra attention and care before inviting any colleague for a meeting. I double-check the time difference and look back into my calendar to see our scheduled meeting last time before I hit ‘invite’. This way I’ll have better chances to fit their schedule and if not, we can always agree on a different time that works best for both of us.

Not being in sync for every hour of every workday gives us a deeper understanding and appreciation for each and every member of our global village.

The cultures that make us

Contract wins, introducing new products, launching a campaign – these are some of the things global companies celebrate as one organization. They inform their employees through newsletters and they let the outside world know through social posts.

However, being a global village means we have to go beyond the wins of Gen as an organization and look within to show proper appreciation and respect to the different cultures that make us whole.

The key here is the intention to continuously learn from one another. At Gen, everyone is both a teacher and a learner. We encourage sensitivity to differences and at the same time, we look for ways to bridge them and build unity.

It’s one thing to inform about the public holidays in the different countries where our employees reside so they’ll know when someone not from their country is on leave. The respect and appreciation come in when we are willing to learn from one another on what a certain holiday means for us, the history behind it and how we celebrate it.

This enables people to step out of their traditional roles and give their unique and very diverse insights to help us continuously evolve the way we harmoniously and effectively work. Having a deeper understanding of this allows for a better connection between every one of us, no matter how far we are from each other.

The fundamentals of building a global village

Managing a global village does not always require a fixed set of rules and organizational culture to follow. It needs a culturally diverse group that is made up of empathic people who are open to learning about each other’s cultures and the context they exist in and how this knowledge translates to how we operate and interact with one another.

And that is why we truly represent what a global village should actually be – it’s not just because of our international makeup but because our members feel mutual trust and a sense of kinship. We integrate and practice the kind of innovative, respectful, and unconventional interactions that drive the best ideas forward.

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