International companies based in the UK face various unique and distinct challenges. Unlike their competitors, there are certain regulations, risks, and nuanced focus areas that intensify the nature of their success. Additionally, HR departments must operate almost entirely differently due to the multinational nature of their workforce.
It might sound daunting, but international companies can thrive and even dwarf their competitors with effective management. If you’re keen to learn more, we’ve explored some of the most effective strategies to optimise performance in this guide.
Top challenges faced by international companies in the UK
1. Cultural differences
Taking the time to understand other cultures – and particularly those of the most important clients and customers – is necessary for the success of any international firm.
Culture makes up the traditions, holidays, foods, and social customs followed by a group, and so naturally makes up an integral part of identity. Recognising and respecting another culture from the moment you meet someone can define their first impression.
For any company working with overseas offices, clients or partners, respecting cultural differences is a key part of demonstrating the necessary emotional intelligence shared among the team. Do your research, and never assume that other teams handle their daily operations and routines in the same way that yours does.
2. Contrasting regulations
Global firms face a complex landscape when it comes to keeping compliant.
Compliance should always be a priority, so international firms should consider innovative methods and technologies to streamline operations. For inhouse accountancy teams, consulting global tax and consulting experts could optimise reporting.
From an administration and accounting perspective, knowing the differences and knowing how to reconcile them is paramount. To understand the nuanced areas of trading within target markets, speaking to local experts is essential. Specialist, localised advice not only saves time but reduces the risks of costly mistakes – or even penalties.
3. Time zones
With one office in London and another in Tokyo, for example, managing daily schedules turns almost into an art form. All global businesses should always learn the best practices for managing teams across different time zones to boost efficiencies for all relevant teams.
Relationship building is an integral part of navigating the challenges presented by different time zones. Team leaders should organise regular check-ins using video conferencing software like Zoom or Teams. Of course, these should always be scheduled with a time-sensitive agenda, where employees are never expected to work overtime.
4. Language and translation
With multiple languages at play, everyday processes can take a little bit longer to complete. However, the language barrier can be conquered with effective teamwork.
Translation is an invaluable tool but also one that’s prone to human error, so extra patience must be required. Similarly, an English-speaking team might need to rely on translation or native-speaking team members to relay communications overseas.
Marketing teams should pay particular attention to language in slogans and campaign messages. Avoiding words with phonetic similarities to something completely different – or even negative – in the language spoken by a target audience could be a costly mistake.
Diversity is the biggest strength of multinational companies, since employees from a variety of backgrounds shape any modern, forward-thinking company. To embrace ethnic and cultural differences in the most professional way, large companies should streamline processes appropriately, keep team communications regular, and consult local experts wherever possible.