-3 ways to work effectively across time-zones
1- Synchronous & Asynchronous collaboration
The project team should be engaged in synchronous and asynchronous collaboration through the project cycle. We are all familiar with synchronous collaboration, in the form of video conference meetings, TelePresence, Instant Messaging. This is the most often used type of collaboration and helps us connect and share updates on progress as well as working out potential risk elements.
Asynchronous collaboration, in the form of blogs, wikis and discussion forums is equally important when working with a global team. Depending on the location of your team, you may not be able to get everyone online to collaborative at the same time, and retaining the results of your collaboration efforts may also be limited. To get the most from your global team it is therefore important that you help the team choose the right format for collaboration depending on the information they wish to share, discuss or collaborate on.
2- Share the load – schedule meetings that fit everyone’s calendar
The World Clock Meeting Planner available at www.timeanddate.com is another one of my favorite tools, it helps me plan meetings that fit the team I am working with. The PM needs to stay aware of not only holidays and cultural festivities that might be in conflict with the project plan, but also understand how the team prefers to work on a daily basis. The meeting planner tool helps the PM plan meetings that occur at times in the day that is amiable to all team members. When I engage with a team, I determine what methods the team prefers to utilize when collaborating as well as their preferred times of the day they are available. Staying aware of the timing of communications, meetings and deadlines for deliverables so they work with team members across the world can help you build a better globally collaborative team.
3- Video, Video, Video
As mentioned in a previous post, the utilization of video throughout your project life-cycle is becoming increasingly more important. The ability to capture ad-hoc video of a meeting or conversation to help further the teams understanding of a specific point, risk element or deliverable, can make a big difference. With a team working across time zones, sharing video can help the team get to know their coworkers and see the working environment in other locations. While people are typically not naturally comfortable with video, the PM and project sponsors can ease this by demonstrating the use of video throughout the project and encourage the team members to utilize it when appropriate. A couple of good examples of how a PM can use video would be:
- Project updates posted on team blog from PM, project sponsor or team member
- Recording or video conferences (TelePresence or Desktop video meetings)
- Ad-hoc recordings of meetings or white-board ideation onto the collaborative workspace for the team