24 Countries, 7 Regions – People, Virtuality & A Global Organization
Interview with Christoph M. Lindemann, Director at RIX Rewards about his learnings, benefits and opportunities of a global virtual organization.
Tell us about yourself and why you have picked this Image.
My name is Christoph Matías, I live in Germany with my young family and I am responsible for the communication and digitalization processes of our global virtual organization.
One of my favorite writers, Franz Kafka, once said that “new paths are made by walking” and this is especially true in a digital world where it seems as if endless possibilities and challenges exist for virtual organizations.
When I think of RIX and the new virtual business reality, I generally see these two dog faces in the image. Excited and positive on the one side and skeptical and doubtful on the other side. I think that counts for me as it does for anybody.
As I am responsible to introduce new tools and features to the team, I have no choice than to be the optimistic one in yellow trying to inspire and convince everyone else in red to actively engage with the newest developments to enhance their workflows and productivity. Not always easy, but most of the time, we manage to eventually get everyone on the yellow side.
“When I think of the new virtual business reality, I generally see these two dog faces. Excited and positive on the one side and skeptical and doubtful on the other side.”
At RIX you work with a global team – Virtual Organization, Cultural Diversity, Time-differences – surely not an easy task
Since you mentioned the time difference, let me share a personal experience. As a young father, I have spent many evening hours (re-)enforcing reasonable sleeping patterns to my young children. In the beginning, there were often situations that team members from around the world, would just start their day and were looking for a certain file or wanted me to jump on a call while I was bringing my children to bed. This is how I discovered the Night Shift feature on my smartphone. But that’s really one of the smaller problems, as you can quite easily get used to this function and soon have the team members’ time zones in your head.
As a virtual organization, it is crucial to put a special focus on communication and embrace diversity. We encourage a culture that allows and supports different management styles to co-exist. Our directors are market experts and the voices of the regions. They understand the needs of the market. Therefore, it is very important to listen to their views and opinions.
How do you create and live a corporate culture in such a diverse digital environment?
Unlike most companies, our team does not have the privilege to spontaneously talk or meet for a quick coffee in the corridor. We miss that direct face-to-face interaction.
To overcome these challenges and to generate a sense of community, we encourage everyone to be a part of our virtual community.
We have created an online platform through which we regularly exchange information and have open discussions about the current developments. We carry out online meetings twice a week where we talk about our learnings and share best practices. This helps us to introduce newcomers and simply stay in touch with each other.
We don’t just limit these meetings to professional discussions. For example, I always look forward to our Birthday “FakeNews” Special, where the birthday child shares true and “fake” stories about their life, and everyone must guess if they are true or false.
“Such experiences enrich people’s lives and trigger emotions, that finally help to build stronger relationships.”
Especially over the last 2 years we have seen a tremendous shift into virtuality – Blessing or Curse?
At RIX, we have always been a global virtual company. The developments in automation and digitalization as well as the willingness of companies around the world to take part in virtual meetings have been a blessing.
Surely the pandemic has had an impact on all businesses. Economically but also from a operational point of view. Many companies that were previously skeptical about home office solutions have found that employees working from home are not only more engaged and satisfied, but also more productive. Especially hybrid working, the mix of home office and presence phases, has proven to be effective even during times of crisis; hence I believe that this model will become permanently established in the working world. I am also personally convinced that old work-structures should regularly be reevaluated and re-adjusted to current situations.
What are your 3 tips for anyone who wants to harvest the opportunities of a virtual organization?
1. Constant Communication: Setting up an effective communication platform is a must in a virtual environment. It is the only way to feel connected despite geographical differences. But make sure to keep it to one system and don’t mix and match programs too much.
2. Encourage Personal Connection: Create an environment and scenarios where people catch up on things other than work and learn more about who they are as people (e.g. Birthday Fake News).
3. Active Engagement: The best way to learn or align a team is to create a gamified environment. Games are universal and trigger excitement, connectivity and finally performance, if used right. We normally create monthly engaging challenges, like a “we plant a tree for every meeting with new prospects”. This way everyone in the team competes to plant trees, instead of chasing after KPIs. Same, same but very different.
At the end of the day, it is always about people and not technology. In order to be a source of inspiration for other companies through our creative reward programs, we first need to create that inspiration and team-spirit within our team. Technology can be a great tool to support that but it will never replace human connectivity.
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