Recently I started a new job, and it’s taken a while to get to grips with the new ways of working that come with switching role. The team I now belong to is a global one, stretched across 6 locations and 4 timezones. Of those, I’m the only person in my timezone, sharing an office with a completely separate team. This setup has its own challenges, over and above those of starting in a new role, and has made me think about how to work best with colleagues in different timezones and locations.
So, my top tips for working remotely:
- Visit in person as soon as you can; it’s much easier to work with someone if you’ve shared a coffee with them. I’m lucky enough to have met a handful of my new colleagues at past conferences, but making the effort to travel and meet some other colleagues has definitely helped ease the transition.
- Video chat, again it’s the face-to-face contact that helps. A good video conference system means you can start to put faces to names. Also, video makes it much easier to work out who’s talking, compared to audio-only!
- Find a group text chat system that works nicely in the background, and use it! Turn off the notifications though, as there’s nothing worse than a system that beeps at you all the time while you’re trying to concentrate on another task.
- Reply to email quickly. As Eric Schmidt points out, being unresponsive means that people assume the worst. This is amplified when you’re not there in person.
- Don’t worry about asking silly questions, chances are that if you’re confused by it then someone else on your team is too. And starting to ask questions of your colleagues can create an atmosphere where others are unafraid to ask them too, which is beneficial for everyone.
- Finally, don’t forget the small talk! Working remotely means you don’t run into your colleagues in the kitchen or on the stairs, but it’s still nice to make time and find out what else is going on in your colleagues’ lives.