In recent years, industry has begun to observe a rise in borderless workforces. The nature of a digital economy enables companies’ international offices to connect with one another seamlessly, meaning there is no real reason why an agency couldn’t work well across other markets.
As a borderless agency, TRO now comprises 15 offices in 11 territories. Each of our offices was opened as a direct result of client need in that territory, from our existing portfolio of clients. For example, one of our leading technology clients considers itself a borderless organisation and we have followed in line with their needs.
The biggest mistake agencies can make when setting up abroad is to use affiliate partnerships and assume this will automatically reflect their brand. To achieve a real borderless community that fully reflects your values takes a huge amount of time and investment. You need to employ people locally, but equally ensure the chemistry of the team is right and that you’re employing people that fit well with the brand. Clients are looking for consistency- which is hard to achieve through partnerships.
We noticed brands restructured their marketing activity into regions rather than specific countries, and reacted as a result. To assert a strong sense of identity, each office is not named by the country, but by the city it’s based in.
Another challenge for borderless working is the speed at which we need to work at. Everyone is ‘on’ 24/7 and lead times are getting shorter and shorter. You really need to build strong foundations and put in the work to get the team running from the start so that when these quick turnaround briefs come in, you’re ready to react.
We manage cultural differences through gaining a thorough understanding of other markets, which is strengthened through both the use of our global intranet and international colleagues spending time together (working in other offices for extended periods of time). For example, we know that in countries such as Italy and Spain, August is a typically quiet business month. So for cross-market campaigns we can plan and prepare accordingly to ensure projects and programmes stay on track.
Time differences also work to our advantage. For example, our creative technology team could be updating programming in Australia while the team in the UK are asleep, so we have the ability to work around the clock, staying connected through email and social media.
Different brands require a specific kind of brand ambassador within the agency and we always strive to match a brand with the people we put to work on that piece of work. There is often one ‘lead’ country and within that a client lead who ensures regular cross-country hang outs to share brand updates, learnings and best practice.
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