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Christian Heilmann
Christian Heilmann

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Some things you can do to make it easier for people in other time zones to work with you

I work as a remote employee with most of my team being 8 hours time difference away. Here's a few things that help me a lot and I helped people with to ensure our working together is most effective.

  • Keeping meetings with people in the same time zone as you to the middle part of the day allows people to meet with you in sensible times on their end. Often they need to contact you in your morning or evening.
  • Shared online documents are an amazing way to get feedback and empower others to work on them when you are not available. Sending a document as an attachment to an email is just asking for trouble. All doc suites have tracking enabled, so you can see and undo changes.
  • Things you need input on need to be accessible to the people you want it from. A shared document that requires the person you want to collaborate with on to request access is at least an 18 hour loss. When sharing, it is imperative to ensure the share is available.
  • Any meeting should have notes of the most important points and action items for the people involved and the ones who couldn't make it. It's adorable that we have video recordings of meetings but nobody wants to scrub through and hour of video without changes.
  • Anything only mentioned in conversation might as well be lost. Ensuring that there is a written proof what was said and done is a great way to avoid confusion. Having a note taker in meetings is incredibly useful.
  • Keeping the banter to a minimum is great. There is nothing cute about sitting at 10pm in your office listening to your colleagues talk about the latest local sports event or any other thing only applicable to your office.
  • Explaining acronyms can help avoid a lot of confusion. Having a resource to point people to what certain acronyms mean in your company is excellent. Things can lose meaning across different cultures.
  • Connection requests are only working when they are detailed. "Contact Jessica in the $xyz team for more info" is so much more useful than "The $xyz team does that, you should contact them".
  • Communication requests should be as detailed as possible. "There was a date and time missing for the meeting and where should we host the document" is useful when you get it at 8pm. "Can you quickly jump on a call" is not. It is terrifying.
  • Anything vague can easily sound ominous and sinister when you get it in the morning or late in the evening. Keeping the need for a meeting without a doubt and explaining expected outcome helps people start the meeting calm and focused.
  • Having fallback contacts is a godsend. "Hey, I need this from you. If I am not available, Jeff (email) or Jessica (email) know about this, too, so I copied them in here in case I am not available"
  • Setting an OOO and your status on Teams/Skype/Slack makes sure people don't get a false hope that they could ask you something.

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