Insights for Working Virtually

This blog is for anyone who communicates in-person or virtually in the business world.

Burning the Midnight Oil: One Huge Challenge for your Virtual Team! 

Burning the Midnight Oil: One Huge Challenge for your Virtual Team! 

We’re a virtual team at evoke. All of us traverse three time zones and more on a daily basis. As the pro’s, we must excel at managing virtual team communication. Most days that’s true. But there are definitely days when we struggle.

As the West coast member of the team, on occasion it can be challenging getting in sync with my Central and East coast time zone partners. For some of our meetings, I’m just getting my day going when they have already been pedal-to-the-floor for hours. What can happen? Project needs that have been developing during the three hours I’ve been asleep have become the significant focus for my East coast brethren. A team meeting at 8:00 am Pacific can feel a little like having your treadmill bumped up to 10 miles per hour before your first cup of coffee!

You’ve probably experienced the same thing at some point.  Working on or with a dispersed team is the norm now. One of the biggest issues we hear from our clients about teams that work virtually is the challenge of time zones when trying to connect or work with non-local teammates.

As managers and team members, there are some things we can do to help even out the time zone challenge in our virtual meetings. Think about how you can apply these best practices:

1. Let them get on with their life!
It's simple. Make team meetings short. If part of your team is in India and the rest in Chicago, you’re going to be balancing early morning and evening for attendees. Make your regularly scheduled meetings focused and short to allow folks juggling evening meals and family to participate and to get some sleep!

2. Spread the burden to everyone
You know this.  If there are dramatic differences in time zones for your virtual team, vary your time zones. If someone has to be up at midnight to connect with the wider group, make sure the next meeting you try to switch the late night hour somewhere else in the team. 

3. Focus on what’s critical
Is every meeting necessary? Could a smaller group address the topic better? Is there another way to exchange the information? Save the live meetings for critical collaboration and communication of crucial strategic information.

4. Have a pajama party
Make it an “in person” gathering. It’s a lot easier to be patient with time zone challenges if we can all be in our bunny slippers together. If possible use Webcams or other visual tools to be “real” at the beginning of the virtual meeting. Turning them off during the rest of the meeting is just fine to allow our colleagues battling bedhead some dignity!

Virtual meetings with our dispersed teams are a daily part of getting our work done. Make them work for every time zone on your virtual team.

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Thursday, 27 February 2020

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