One of the main characteristics of our team at Visian Systems is everyone works remotely. But even further, our team is spread across the globe working in different timezones. Today we will share the insights which helped us face this challenge. We’ll show how it’s possible to successfully work with a remote team from different locations.
Managing an online business it’s not easy and it’s even harder when your team is distributed in several regions or countries. This is not only our case. Remote jobs have increased in 2022 and this trend is likely to continue in 2023. As you can imagine, this calls for well-defined and asynchronous team management. The goal is to make sure this form team organisation won’t affect your projects’ progression.
Next, we will be listing a few guidelines on to how properly manage a remote team over the internet.
#1. Understand your team’s different timezones boundaries
Here the word ‘understand’ has multiple meanings. First, you must know the time difference between the developers and you, the manager. And also you should determine the time difference between your team to your client. This will allow you to select and assign the most suitable team members by optimizing the timezone differences.
Another thing to point out is to have good coordination of your team’s routine. You should previously discuss with each developer what would be their shifts and in each period they will be available. Save this information because you will need to consult or update it from time to time.
The other meaning of ‘understand’ is to put yourself in your team’s place. Know that they won’t be able to answer in real-time. For this reason you have to be reasonable when assigning any developer to a project or scheduling a meeting. We’ll talk about more this issue in the next topics. We just want to emphasize how important is to team managers to try to understand the limitations of their teams.
#2. Have an asynchronous communication channel
As the name implies, asynchronous communication is when you aren’t in direct contact with your interlocutor. E-mail and online chats are simple and effective asynchronous forms of communication when working in different timezones. And over the internet, you will find several tools to assist you in creating a functional communication channel between you, your clients and your team.
We mentioned before how Slack is a perfect tool for communication for business in general. That’s because not only the platform allows both asynchronous and real-time communication, but it also maintains a well-organised space.
Important to highlight that is not only a matter of having a channel for everyone to be able to talk whenever is needed. You also have to make sure information is being delivered and understood by both sides of the conversation. And having different channels for different projects and sectors of the company helps you to don’t cross information and make a mess in your chats.
#3. Find the optimal time and necessity for meetings
Having team meetings is a vital part of any software development company and other types of business. So the main goal of a good team manager while working with developer in different timezones is not to find not a place, but the ideal time for everyone to talk.
That’s why you should always know your team’s routine to find a schedule where you all can reunite. But you must also give voice to them. Consult your team on which day and period would be better to have a meeting. You all should meet at least weekly so everyone can be aligned with the project’s current status.
Also, don’t forget that not every occurrence in a project’s progression should lead to a team meeting. Sometimes only an e-mail or a direct message can solve an issue and save you valuable time.
#4. Always be specific
To work with different time zone is to be more exposed to misunderstandings in scheduled events. But a good team manager should know how to prevent these situations. So make sure to always highlight the date, day of the week, time and time zone when scheduling meetings and defining deadlines.
Using the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is the best standard to keep everyone aligned in the same period. Also make use of tools such as Google Calendar or Calendly when scheduling events or meetings since they adapt to each user’s timezones, decreasing the chance of any misconception.
#5. Have the best tools for project management at your disposal
There are so many applications across the internet to assist you in project management. And there are lots of them that also help to work in different time zone. We already cited most of them in the article. But we’d like to recommend them again so you can know for sure they are great tools to work with:
- Slack: a great platform for day-to-day communication between you, clients and the development team. A helpful feature is that Slack shows what time it is in every user’s profile so this helps you to better understand your team’s routine. Also, it allows you to easily organize your communication channels to make sure you don’t cross information in different projects.
- Google Calendar / Microsoft Teams: Either of these platforms serves as an excellent time management tool. In both of them, you can create events like weekly meetings, project kick-offs, etc and invite as many clients or team members as you have. Everyone will be notified in their time zone, preventing or at least reducing misunderstood in the meeting schedule.
- Calendly: this is the perfect tool for one-to-one meetings, ideal to schedule interviews or having a call with a particular client. You set all the periods you have available for meetings and share them with your contact so they can easily pick a time to talk with you in their time zone. You can synch your Calendly with your Google Calendar and have the platform automatically show what periods you have available, reducing the chance to schedule two different meetings at the same time.
- Trello: with this tool, you can create task boards in a Kanban style to help you in project management. It provides an online board where your managers can assign tasks and check the current progression of your team’s activities at any time.
- Toggl Track: here your team can register all the time they spent on each task of their current project. It also helps you and your other managers to see and understand your team’s routine, checking in what period they are more active and how much time they spent to solve a particular issue
To work with a team in different timezones is not an impossible task. But demands efforts from your managers to be done properly. So, understanding your team’s timezone boundaries and having an asynchronous communication channel already helps you with a great part of the process. In this article, you can find other guidelines to help you manage your entire team.