Adjusting Cultural Training Delivery Across Time Zones to Address Pandemic Challenges


A few weeks prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global biopharmaceutical company sent an executive and family on international assignment to the outskirts of Gothenburg, Sweden. The assignees were excited about their upcoming intercultural training program, but were now faced with an even more challenging than anticipated “new normal”: the pre-school, or “creche”, closed its doors and their two young children were to be at home full time. Combined with working virtually from home, there was seemingly no time for cultural training – at least, not during normal business hours.


IOR Solution

To best suit these challenges during these unprecedented times, IOR proposed that the assignees take cultural training once the children were asleep at 8:00pm. To facilitate, IOR enlisted one of our experienced intercultural trainers with Swedish expertise who was in New Zealand at the time. The late evening, 90-minute virtual sessions enabled them to work full days, attend to childcare and manage daily living demands in their new location. Because of the time difference between Sweden and New Zealand, where their trainer was based, the trainer was able to tune in and deliver their customized intercultural training at the assignee’s convenience bright and early in the morning on her side of the globe.



After the initial session, the accompanying spouse wrote a thank you note to IOR stating how much she appreciated making this connection, especially given the initial isolation and uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon successful completion of the two-day program, the assignees indicated they wanted more cultural training! While no new time was authorized, IOR offered complimentary Follow-up Coaching, which comprises of a debrief session three months after their program. The Follow-up Coaching benefit is included with every completed one and two-day intercultural training program.