From local to global - benefits of multicultural teams

Multicultural teams are becoming more and more common in Finland. There are already over 62 000 small and medium sized Finnish companies with international operations, and at the same time the number of expats living in Finland has increased tremendously. Many of us work already in either global organizations or multicultural teams and that’s why we decided to take this as the topic of our first Peer talk panel discussion.


The panelists presented companies that are originally from Finland and which all have a bit different level of multiculturalism in their organizations: Francois Maugis is the Head of Systems, Tools & Data at PAF, a Nordic company with employees of over 22 nationalities, Michiel Visser is the Director Corporate Development at F-Secure, company that has offices in 25 countries and 35 nationalities in the HQ and Kristian Luoma, who is the Head of OP Lab, which is a multicultural and fairly new unit inside a massive, traditional Finnish company.  

Benefits of having multicultural teams

Growing from local to a global is actually a very familiar topic for Barona as well. We are currently expanding our business heavily in other Nordic countries and we know that the route is very long and even somewhat painful. We have learnt a lot during the journey and it has helped us to widen our perspectives on a personal and a company level.  

All the panelists praised the value of multicultural and diverse teams too. Here are few advantages of multicultural teams that we came up with: 

1) Diversity creates innovations

When your team is developing new products or services or creating new business models, different views and perspectives are required. The best innovations are born when people of different views and background – whether it is cultural or functional, come together to brainstorm ideas. Different views challenge each other in positive ways and help others to understand and see things they couldn’t see without the help of others.

There are no innovations without having diversity of views”,
Kristian Luoma, OP Lab

2) Global mindset helps you prepare for the future 

Due to digitalization, the markets and competitive fields have changed a lot. Before, you competed with a smaller group of known competitors, but today new challengers emerge every day. They can be startups or new services created by big, traditional companies. The competition can easilly come from abroad, because entering new countries is easier than before. Having a global mindset helps you stay aware of the competition and also helps you understand and predict trends that are affecting your market.

 3) Entering a new market requires local customer insight

Customer insight is a vital part of service design process and it is extremely important when you are entering a new market. Even though countries are close together there can be huge cultural differences. For example people often see the Nordic countries as one and the same, but we have a many cultural differences in addition to the language, such as ways of working, humour and manners, consumer behavior and the brands that we are used to.

4) Different cultures broaden your perspective

The best thing about working in a multicultural team on a personal level is that it always widens your perspective. You learn to understand the differences between cultures such as the values, manners, body language and leadership methods. These are actually very important to study and understand because these usually cause the biggest cultural clashes and misunderstandings. If you are leading a multicultural team you probably need to use a bit different leadership styles for different members.

5) Multicultural environment encourages to be yourself

One surprising benefit that was brought up by our host, Emma Koskinen, was that when you work abroad or in a multicultural team, you might feel more open to be your true self. You are not concerned about how other people think about you, and you might not be that afraid of conflicts. This is really interesting and something I've also noticed. So working in multicultural teams or global environments is actually a really good way for you to develop yourself. 

The subject of multicultural teams is extremely important and broad so instead of just writing  one post about the event, I decided to write four. In this first one I brought up the reasons and benefits of having a multicultural team. The second one will focus more on the cultural transformation as the company grows from local to global. The third one is about corporate language and last but definitely not the least will be about communication in a multicultural organizations.



Would you like to take part in our next Peer talk evening? Fill in the form and we'll send you the invitation in the beginning of next year.

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