When I started working with Shoeboxed, I was in Bucharest. We already had a team in Romania of two people and I was the third. We shared an office with some our colleagues from other projects. It wasn’t mandatory to get there, but made the effort and this is how I started to become friends with my colleagues.
We opened a really cool Bucharest office in the old city centre. and the company grew. We had a really cool working atmosphere. Then I had to move to Dubai.
It has been a year of working not only remote, but isolated at home. Here are some tips for making things work while working for people that are 7/8 hour time-zone away.
Do your job
You have to put in the hours to get the job done. Nobody being awake when you’re working can remove the sense of urgency and importance of what you’re doing and you may start to slack off. Have a to-do list and be diligent about it. Also remove distractions. Most of my mornings I get some tea and go to the pool(Dubai perks are nice). I go though my Instapaper list, my RSS subscriptions and maybe some Twitter or Reddit. It takes me about an hour, an hour and a half to get through these. Afterwards I can put all my distractions away and take care of business.
Get away from your job
After I start working, I firstly go though email too see what happened while I was sleeping. I make action items from things that are required of me and I answer emails, update Trello boards, etc. Then I start going though the to-do list one item by one. No distractions(everything is already read), no emails(it’s 3am EST), no nothing. Then we have a scrum meeting at 6:15pm or 7:15pm(Dubai doesn’t have daylight changes). When we do sprint planning, we sometimes finish at 9pm. And I am off(unless there are fires).
Clear communication is key
Since I am off after scrum, I only have about one hour per day when I can communicate with my US based colleagues. This constraint make us be really though with our emails and what we are chatting about. And it’s a good thing as we don’t interrupt each other all day. Also we have to think our tasks more though so that we have no show stoppers.
It’s hard to have a 7/8 hour time difference between colleagues. But it has some advantages to it. And to make everything work you have to play those advantages to the maximum. We’re more diligent. Also, no more interruptions. But what benefits us the most is to putting more intent in the way we communicate and in the way we manage the project and task at hand. And I believe even teams that are on the same location need more of that.