International Collaboration: of pound keys and hash keys

When working with International Collaboration, as with many things in life, if is important that you stay alert to what you think you know – but do not know.

We were working to connect a client in Britain to a monthly steering committee call that was hosted in the States. For a couple of meetings we were encountering a mysterious issue – key sequences we knew worked, would not work for her.

“Enter your Access Code followed by the pound key”. “You can unmute with a pound 7”.

These simple commands worked for everyone but for her. We would finally dial out and dial her in, but this entailed international calling charges and we kept racking our brains.

Finally it came to light, in Britain there is a £ key. In Britain, they call # the hash key. Poor Patricia was following our advice and using her pound key, with poor results.

Now we know

Happens all the time, right? Just when we think we know …

International Communications and Collaboration

Organizations that span countries, continents and time zones face a particular set of challenges; technical, cultural, and temporal.

International Connections

Lighthouse technology Associates is experienced in facilitating international communications and collaboration and we can offer support in implementing effective strategies including:

  • Offering routine testing and troubleshooting for staff who might have tenuous connections, including determining and testing alternatives ahead of scheduled conferences or meetings
  • Offering solutions that make it possible to dial participants into a meeting via their land-line or mobile phone. Training staff to use these features, for example to connect participants with a weak internet connection but relatively reliable local phone service. Note this can also be used to shift the cost of a call from the caller to your central office.
  • Helping Staff stay on top of timezone changes
    • We provide our clients with twice a year alerts about changes in daylight savings around the world
    • Note that Europe switches over one week ahead of the US, Arizona and Hawaii don’t change, and that all around the world you will find anomalies
  • Training staff to use Skype effectively as a supplemental technology

International Inclusion

In addition to technological solutions we can advise you in implementing practices which promote full inclusion of international staff.

It is easy for an organization with headquarters in the US or Europe to become “centric” around your location, your time of day, your holidays.

We’ve developed effective ways to integrate staff around the world and create an environment and organizational culture that is conducive to collaboration across the entire organization – especially techniques for holding meetings that deploy technology and extend over time zones.

For example we’ve developed a successful protocol for holding essential meetings in two sessions, providing participants access to a convenient session, including live Q & A,  no matter where they are around the world.

In addition LTA enhances the standard documentation and training suite by offering plain-language documents and a glossary of common technical terms for ESL staff.

These efforts send a clear message to international staff that they are valued members of your organization. Effectively including international staff in your work creates possibilities to forge strong working relationships across regions and opens doors to more organization-wide programmatic work.