By Falynne Finagan
Five continents, 140 countries and 12 time zones. That’s the makeup of Xerox’s International Operations business, and what Marketing and Communications manager Frederick Larbi calls his workplace. In his role, Larbi is responsible for ensuring the company has effective marketing programs across the various geographies, particularly in developing markets.
“Language barriers are certainly a challenge,” says Larbi, a nearly 20-year veteran of Xerox. “We are fortunate to have multilingual staff members help with translation issues. We use translation tools when necessary, but those technologies aren’t useful when you’re trying to speak to someone live over the phone.”
Most of the time, Larbi and his team rely on good old-fashioned email. “It’s important to be crystal clear with our communications, particularly with those whose second language is English. Email is very effective, especially when we have information to share with a large distribution list.”
When there is an urgent need to connect, the International Operations team uses apps like Skype for Business and WhatsApp. The evolving technological landscape encourages Larbi and his team to try new methods of communication, and when one fails, they always have another to fall back on.
Employees at a global company can go years or even an entire career without meeting many colleagues in person, or as some say I.R.L – in real life. For Larbi, the importance of a face-to-face meeting is immeasurable, especially as they relate to relationship building. “You have to leverage technology to be more efficient and fluid, but personalities don’t shine through via email. Tone can be hard to discern and words can often be taken out of context,” notes Larbi.
(The Modern Workplace summer series is published each Friday on Xerox Connect. Subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss a thing, or retrieve your favorite Modern Workplace articles here.)
The emerging modern workplace
Contrary to popular belief, the western world isn’t always first at bat when it comes to creating the latest workplace technological advancements. Oftentimes, innovation happens first in the so-called developing world before spreading to the industrialized world.
“In many cases, the developing countries are at the epicenter of forging new ways to connect and collaborate,” says Larbi. “On a recent trip to Ghana, I noticed how advanced they’ve become with mobile-first ticketing, payments and more. People might be surprised to discover just how relevant setting the page free has become in emerging markets.”