Event though we live in an era in which companies can use technology to facilitate communication between members of dispersed teams, face time is important to ensure team effectiveness. It is extremely important to periodically bring dispersed teams together for face-to-face meetings. With time zone differences and travel time, it can be challenging to accomplish this and balance the needs of all all team members. Here are a few models that I have used with some of my clients:
Alternate Meeting Venues. One of my clients has a dispersed team. Initially, the team was located in one city but spread out across a large Metropolitan area. They have handled face-to-face meetings by alternating the hotel venue between the East and West ends of the city. This approach can work for teams that are even more dispersed (e.g., meet in Europe one year and Asia the next).
The company has grown very rapidly and opened branches in other provinces. This year they have selected an airport hotel so that team members who are traveling from out of town can quickly get to the location after arrival. The location is easy to access from both the East and West ends.
Meet in the Middle. What if your team is even more dispersed? It take some research but often you can find a location that is accessible by direct flight from most locations.
I have one client with branches in Europe, Asia and South Africa. For one executive team meeting, they opted to meet in Dubai as there were direct flights from each of their cities. Abu Dhabi would have worked equally as well.
- Depart from a Central Location. For foreign retreats, an approach that another client has used is to bring team members from the furthest locations into the city of departure for the foreign leg. The team members come in early enough the day before to have an opportunity to rest at a hotel near the airport. They meet the rest of the team the next day and depart together to the foreign destination.
- Early Arrival. For international incentives or retreats, in some instances, it may make sense to arrange for team members traveling form the furthest locations to arrive at the final destination a day or two before the rest of the group. This will give them an opportunity to rest and recover from jet lag by the time the rest of the team joins them.
- Hybrid Satellite Meetings. For quarterly or semi-annual meetings, it may make sense to fly meeting participants into one venue in each region (e.g., state, province, continent) and use technology to link the meetings.
For more meeting models for dispersed teams also consult Hybrid Meetings: 10 Tips from the Fresh Conference For Integrating Technology and Give Your Remote Attendees What They Want on the Cvent Event Blog.
Photo Credit: DearEdward