Questions about teams in a distributed world
The teams I've been involved in for the last, oh, 7+ years inside my last company and now in my own business have almost all been distributed. I think many of the same principles still apply, but I think we need to address them more quickly.
Here are some sample issues (all solvable, I think, at least as well as f2f):
- How do you form a team quickly, because the people were assigned last week, we've got to work today, and we're finished next month?
- How do you do team and people development, when time frames are so compressed? (For some of us, the model of a "local team" with occasional work done across geographical boundaries hasn't been around in years, so it's not obvious one can fall back to the "matrixed team" organizational model. Often each team member is sitting in geographical isolation from everyone else.)
- How do you form a team effectively when the people will never see each other and may never engage in real-time (synchronous) interaction?
- What skills and tools do you really need to foster effective communications in this sort of environment, as compared to a f2f workplace? What are the gaps, and how can you overcome them? (For example, writing and verbal speaking skills may increase in importance, when communication that involves talk and gestures is limited.)
- How do you manage business and personal needs when some are normally sleeping when others are normally working (and vice versa)?
- What human needs go unaddressed in such a work society, and how can we help people address them in other suitable ways?
Labels: distributed work