Sense of Belonging in Global Teams

What makes people lose the sense of belonging?


The loss of nonverbal body cues is among the most overlooked reasons why employees feel so disengaged from others. Disengagement happens not because people do not want to belong, but because, with today’s toolsthey do not know how.

– Erica Dhawan, Digital Body Language​

Remote communication vs belonging

We are cue-less – up to 70% of communication among teams takes place digitally

Our ability to care is compromised – showing appreciation is not easy

We do not respond in the adequate time – balance between business and adequate response time is not easily found

Digital tools interrupt our human interactions

Cultural differences matter more, plus – we are all immigrants to digital space.

What is implicit in face-to-face communication, now has to be explicit in our digital communication. This way, the pillars of belonging in remote, global teams are built and sustained.​


Four pillars of belonging

  1. Value Visibly​
  2. Communicate Carefully​
  3. Collaborate Confidently​
  4. Trust Totally​


Value Visibly

  • In remote, global teams, it is difficult to have enough non-verbal nor cultural signs of appreciation and respect;​
  • Valuing Visibly is being proactive in explicitely showing we value someone’s participation – not just assuming „they’re OK”​
  • Reading carefully is the new active listening,​
  • Writing clearly is the new empathy.​


Communicate Carefully​

  • Get to the point but not at all cost – consider the context, medium, audience and cultural background.
  • How your message looks is the equivalent of „tone of voice”​
  • Know when to change the channel (length, complexity, familiarity)​
  • Is there not enough sense of belonging? Or maybe the commitments are not detailed enough?​


​Collaborate Confidently​

  • Make sure that everyone on your team knows what are the roles of their teammates and other teams,​
  • Measure success in results, not hours,​
  • Be consistent: fight thoughtless deadlines, eliminate cancellations, do not haste with your responses,​
  • Be available – at least when you said you would be.​


​Trust Totally​

  • The result of the previous pillars,​
  • Model the behavior you want to see in your team​
  • Create psychological safety,​
  • Engage in showing your own authentic self​


Global vs. Local​

Why is it more difficult to belong in global teams?​ Specific difficulties of global teams​: cultural differences – different ways of showing that we care, ​different ways of building trust,​ language difference,​ time zone difference… ​


Checklist for belonging​​

  1. Take a look at the four pillars of belonging​
  2. Which pillar do you need to address in your team?​
  3. Create a plan and… follow it.​



If you want to learn more about this topic, check the full webinar: Sense of Belonging in Global Teams


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Photo by Fernando @cferdophotography on Unsplash