Summary: With shifts in how and where we work, it can be challenging for teams working across miles and time zones. Here are six tips to make it Almost Easy™ to stay connected.
One of the advantages of adjusting company policy to allow for remote work and the ability to Work From Anywhere™ (WFA) is the freedom it provides employees and managers. Freedom to access the best talent in the world – from all over the world and freedom to work where you are most productive - which is an unexpected benefit of COVID workplace disruption.
Well-managed dispersed teams (including digital nomads who once may have been in the office) lets the organization take full advantage of a 24-hour day. Team members in London working with colleagues in San Francisco and Bangalore, for instance, can continue to be productive around the clock and around the globe.
This can be enormously liberating for companies and team members. But there are challenges to leading a WFA team working across different time zones.
With a workforce that’s in flow and increasingly global, here are some tips on how to accomplish extraordinary things with a remote or hybrid team.
Build a communications strategy.
In a global WFA environment, we suggest a communications strategy with an infrastructure to support it. Obviously this includes live video calls. They’re important, especially for weekly Level-10 Meetings. But as important as live video meetings are, the successful and happy management of remote teams requires additional tools to support collaboration. It’s just too taxing and complex to schedule.
Establish reasonable expectations for response times.
When working with people across time zones and borders, internal communication processes might include response time, setting expectations and agreements to minimize concerns. For example, some colleagues may already be asleep at the start of the workday for others, so leaders must allow for that. Some teams might require some overlap in working hours for meetings and collaboration. Others put whole company operating systems in place, increasing the visibility and transparency of the work being performed, by whom and on what timeline.
Embrace written communications.
While writing emails, whole-company operating system comments and instant messaging may not be as rich an experience as live video conferencing, they do have their advantages. Overall, people tend to take more care with what they type or write. Leaders can build on this by coaching team members to be even more clear and concise in their communications. Mindfulness matters. Because context is often absent from text and/or email communications, it's important to provide necessary specifics to prevent misunderstandings.