At Comcast Technology Solutions (CTA), our mission is to connect Comcast technology to the world, including content companies, MVPDs, and advertisers. We have global customers, global development teams, and global operations teams, and with employees working across 25 U.S. states, 11 countries, and nine time zones, CTS has learned to innovate on a global scale. Maintaining this innovation across a far-reaching workspace requires an expanded mindset and conscious effort.
Whether interpersonal communications, team interactions, or leader-led, effective communications is critical to keeping an organization informed and innovative. At the interpersonal and team level, like many companies, we’ve adopted virtual videoconferencing, encouraging all participants to be on screen and actively engaged. The challenges we initially faced were inclusion and respect; to include all employees and be respectful of their time zone, we shifted regularly scheduled meetings so that waking up early or logging in late is not the burden of one team over another. Some groups have varied their meeting times so each time zone takes a turn with off-hours communication. The impact of these varied, inclusive meetings is that employees have the chance to collaborate and share their ideas in ways that were much harder before tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom were perfected.
In addition to respecting the time of all team members, we recognize and embrace cultural differences, such as customs, language nuances, and local holidays. Learning and celebrating our differences has enriched our teams and created intercultural understanding, allowing our teams to connect while not physically together. An added benefit has been that through these experiences and cultural lessons, we have gained the expertise to support our varied global customer base in ways that we may otherwise have missed. While there may be some differences, collectively, we do have common ground among all teams: respect, integrity, transparency, openness, and recognition.
Being agile means having the ability to communicate effectively and make changes quickly. With employees spread across the globe, individuals and teams can’t rely on video conferencing alone. We’ve invested in opportunities to bring employees together in person, as well as additional tools including social media, email, and Slack. Building relationships and giving employees the room to pivot quickly has only enhanced the final products. But it isn’t just the tools, it’s also the approach our leaders enforce: flexibility. We give our employees the ability to be flexible and non-traditional about when and how they work. In particular, we’ve emphasized the work of Daniel Pink from his book Drive. To increase motivation, we use autonomy, mastery, and purpose as guiding principles around the globe, and as a result, we have highly motivated employees.
Promoting Collaborative Work
Even with a strong desire to collaborate globally, it can be tough for team members when they feel it easier to work locally with people they know well and recognize. This can be overcome with a focus from management that promotes global collaboration and innovation. Intrapreneurial managers must create conditions that incentivize global team efforts, such as pulling the teams together on a structured and periodic basis to build relationships. We also use the same strong tools throughout the different offices, allowing employees to simply plug in and work.
This article was originally published in 2023 Second Annual Intrapreneurship & Innovation Report.
Ken Klaer EVP
Comcast Cable and President
Comcast Technology Solutions
Ken Klaer has two decades of experience in the digital video network systems industry, known for providing the vision, leadership, strategy, and action to fuel operational and financial results. In 2015, he was inducted into the Cable TV Pioneers in recognition for his contributions to the cable broadband industry.