With offices more than 5000 km apart and split between Montreal, Singapore, and Dubai, the GSM Project team has taken the art of multi-channel communication to an unparalleled level! A quick snapshot of our organization…
Each of our offices brings together a variety of skills: producers, scenographic specialists, designers, museologists, content professionals, graphic designers… It’s this mix of talents that allows us to develop projects as exceptional as the observation deck at the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, the Alaska Gallery at the Anchorage Museum, or the National Museum of Singapore.
A well-oiled machine
At GSM Project, we strongly believe in the importance of the collective: for us, a team’s success depends on the ability of each of its members to contribute the best of themselves. But how is this accomplished when the team is split over three continents, like at GSM? Whenever possible, we make the effort to foster collaboration between the offices. We connect the local team with overseas experts that can help ensure a project’s success. As Maude Desjardins, Content Director, explains, “This structure lets us call on the strengths of each office, and complement the local team in order to deliver the best service to our clients.”
What about communication?
Naturally, the biggest challenge is to make distance immaterial and to understand each other well in order to work together effectively. Our offices are, after all, divided across three continents! GSM Project is 120 people, representing around thirty different professions and around twenty different nationalities. For Maude Desjardins, “obviously, human contact is still very important for group cohesion, and we have to be able to identify the key moments where we need to be face to face. But when you work with remote teams, you learn quickly how to sharpen your way of thinking to get right to the point.”
You have to be flexible, clear, and understanding in order to work well together. Serina Tarkhanian, Interactive Designer, explains that “the greatest challenge is communication. When you work in different time zones, there’s a tendency to under-communicate, because you don’t want to bother the other person or because it seems to complicated. But that’s a mistake. In fact, you need to over-communicate and get creative about communication: Slack, voice messages, images… There are so many tools that can help you stay in touch and build understanding.” When working a project, then, silence is not an option. Phone calls at odd hours, countless exchanges of documents, multiple explanations and clarifications: these become the everyday reality. But above all, it’s important to keep the perspective that one person’s talent alone is not enough to make a project successful.
Working differently, together
We’ve developed a non-standard way of working, with somewhat elastic schedules. At GSM, the physical absence of a colleague usually means that they’re working at another office. Obviously, it’s not always easy. This kind of organization requires us to trust our teams, to understand their experience, and to be patient through the jet lag. But so far, it seems this system has worked well for us, since our company is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
For us, the value of the collective is never in question. Team spirit is something we live every day, and it’s what allows us to excel at creating experiences, each more innovative than the last.