6 Tips to Manage a Product Team That Spans Time Zones (Without Pulling Your Hair Out)

1. Don’t rely only on email for team communications.

You might not always be able to communicate with your globally distributed team in real-time, either by phone or video call. But when you need to communicate asynchronously—where you send a message and wait for a response—avoid the temptation to use email. Here’s why:

It’s a safe bet that everyone on your team uses the same work email address for all sorts of business (and personal communications). That means some of your important messages to the team could get lost, and you might not always immediately see and read their messages to you.

2. Find an online collaboration tool—and create a workspace there just for your team, and just for this project.

One way to bring your worldwide team a little closer together is to create a special workspace just for them—where everyone on the platform is part of the team (and nobody else is invited), and every communication is about the team’s current project.

You can set up an in-house Wiki, use some of the great project management apps like Jira or Trello, set up a Slack channel, or create a team on Glip (this one’s free, forever).

3. Leverage any time overlap you can find.

Let’s say there’s just one hour of the day when both you and your overseas teammates are in the office at the same time. Maybe it’s your morning and the end of the day for your developers in Czech, for example. Lock that time up—on both sides—so your team can communicate in real-time during that hour.

4. Use video whenever you can.

If your product team is spread across several cities or even countries, you can very easily fall into the trap of viewing each other as just a series of names or email addresses—and that never leads to the magic that can come only from the chemistry of real teamwork.

So whenever possible, meet virtually through videoconferences. It’ll help everyone get to know everyone else a little better, share their personalities with the team, and build that chemistry.

You just can’t create a sense of team cohesion over an instant-message platform.

How to make remote work a success?

Some very good articles on the subject are Scott Hanselman´s, and Jeff Atwood’s and Stack Overflow:

http://www.hanselman.com/blog/BeingARemoteWorkerSucksLongLiv…

http://www.hanselman.com/blog/30TipsForSuccessfulCommunicati…

https://blog.stackoverflow.com/2013/02/why-we-still-believe-…

See also:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9198345

http://engineering.datadoghq.com/9-ways-to-make-working-remo…