Living with diverse culture in Virtual Projects


Hello! This short video from Scatterwork focuses on living diverse culture in virtual projects and presents three survival hints.

The first is to recognize that the chances of cultural mismatch between, for example, people in different offices in different countries or different parts of the world is very, very high.

I’ve got here seven features that you might have which are different between two different offices, for example different delays between speaker and response.

In some cultures, when you speak you have to wait until the other person is finished and then you answer. And if you don’t they get a bit annoyed. But in other cultures the response comes and people talk at the same time. If these response habits don’t match, then you can have an uncomfortable situation.

Or maybe they use different dialing codes for telephone for international codes or different ways of writing the number down with plus and zero and so on.

May be different times of the year for changing between winter and summer time (that’s between winter time and daylight saving time). If it’s not at the same time of year you have a chance that meetings will not work properly because the time coordination wasn’t good.

So I’ve got seven features that may differ between two offices. Just imagine that there were five options for each of these, then we have have seven times by 5, that is 5 by 5 and so on combinations that could occur between these two offices, 78,000.

The point is that there are so many different options that you’ve got a good chance of hitting one of them and of course you always hit it by mistake.

So then the next survival hint is if this happens not to react immediately to an unexpected response. If you get something you don’t expect and you react immediately then you have a good chance the other person will not be very comfortable. But if on the other hand you delay your response,, they might think “why isn’t he answering?”. A delay is less likely to end up in a conflict situation.

And I remember one time long ago presenting an unexpected situation to a friend of mine and instead of reacting, he just stopped for a few seconds and then he said “…………..O.K.”.

By doing it that way you avoid the row.

And then the third survival hint is to introduce extra process steps for improved reliability. For example don’t just rely on an email
“please send me so-and-so” but then follow it up with a phone call and read through the email together and listen.

It may be that was said or what was written down wasn’t exactly what you thought or maybe maybe the right thing was written down in you misinterpreted it. So by having two steps you have a
better chance of compensating for this complexity.

So there you have it: three things:

one is recognize that the chances of cultural mismatch are very, very, very high;

and then if you get some sort of funny response or something you’re not expecting, wait give yourself a bit of time before reacting;

and then the third one is to introduce extra process steps for reliability. Don’t overdo it but don’t assume that what works in the single culture environment will actually also work in a multicultural environment.

So if you’re interested in discussing your own project issues, please connect with me by any of the usual methods: through the website at, newsletter, LinkedIn, telephone, email and so on.

I look forward to hearing from you, thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.


Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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Project stress management ideas

Stressed Businessman

Project management is always hectic so careful Stress Management can really help.  Projects require great attention to detail, regardless of how much is happening. This means that project management can be very stressful.  This can be made worse but lack of attention to detail, as even more pressure occurs when unforeseen issues need to be sorted out.

The following ideas combine the outputs of several training workshops with project managers to help Stress Management, so may give you some useful suggestions.  They may be culture-dependent, but still worth consideration in your environment.  Good luck!


COMMUNICATIONS for Stress Management

  • Communicate any progress to stakeholders ASAP (as soon as possible).
  • Use clear communication to align all stakeholders (this is not just “management” but everybody affected by a project).
  • Use informal meetings to clarify issues, then follow up with written confirmation.
  • Book meetings in the calendar, e.g. with Outlook, so that everybody has the same information.  Or use Doodle to poll for meeting times, including time zone corrections.
  • Definition: Expectation vs. Scope.
  • Agree a team rule to communicate delays ASAP, not just hoping that the problem will go away.
  • Restructure or reorganise a project, if the deadline is not going to be met.
  • Manage or even change expectations.
  • Support a culture of open communications.

PLANNING for Stress Management

  • Discuss your ideas, then put them on paper for communication.
  • When given a new assignment, don’t just say “yes” and start but ask questions to clarify what is requested.
  • Take the necessary time to develop your action plan.
  • Delegate but be prepared to take control when necessary.
  • Develop a solid plan and anticipate issues.
  • Be realistic with timing estimates.
  • Assess risks and implement actions for the more important ones.
  • Make and document your assumptions, then check them with the stakeholders.  This allows progress, even before getting final clarification of details.
  • Prioritise actions on the critical path.
  • Develop Team skills and team spirit.
  • Set expectations and priorities.
  • Develop a well defined scope and challenge unrealistic expectations => Well defined project plans with realistic deadlines & resource allocation  = Achievable.
  • Make decisions (avoid time waste).
  • Have Contingency Plans to deal with unexpected situations.

PERSONAL SKILLS for Stress Management

  • Don’t get panicked.
  • Stay organized.
  • Trust your team and colleagues.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Clearly identify reasons or sources of stress.
  • Take a break or a day off.
  • Engage in Sport.
  • Turn off email and other notifications.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.