March 30, 2023
5 tips for collaborating across time zones from WePlay Esports
4 min read
When a company opens a new office, it leads to both ground-breaking opportunities and unavoidable challenges. The company can reach partners at new locations, but it may be hard to keep team processes on track. However, the pandemic and the Russian war in Ukraine have forced the tight-knit WePlay Esports team to work remotely more. Plus, opening new offices and relocating part of the team made it imperative for the employees to collaborate across different time zones.
How can a company maintain effective communication, manage workflows, and encourage collaboration while ensuring that everyone is working efficiently and not experiencing burnout?
Rule 1. First challenge: asynchronous communication
One of the biggest challenges for remote employees is maintaining effective communication. The time difference causes delays that result in underperformance and miscommunication. To overcome this challenge, it is essential to establish clear work boundaries and set well-defined expectations for how and when team members should communicate with each other.
WePlay Esports has established clear rules to simplify communication. First of all, minding the time differences, teams assign meetings and outline the agenda ahead of time. Instead of exchanging messages non-stop, it’s easier to gather the stakeholders once and discuss the topics in depth. Google Calendar actually provides a lot of tools that make the process flow easily. Attendees can suggest a suitable time and check out the agenda set beforehand.
From time to time, the HR team posts kind reminders about response time. It’s essential to make sure that remote workers understand working hours and time zone differences so they don’t expect an instant answer to their Slack messages. Of course, the team also incorporated a special protocol to deal with urgent issues. Establishing the rules of engagement can help ensure that remote team members are on the same page and have a clear understanding of how they should communicate with each other.
Rule 2. Make information accessible to everyone
When it’s early morning in the United States, it’s already well past midday in Ukraine, so it’s hard to gather the whole company or a team meeting. However, these check-ins are important — this way, everyone has the opportunity to ask a direct question and get an answer immediately.
Of course, WePlay Esports still arranges all-team meetings finding suitable meeting times, yet it’s understandable that sometimes an international team member just can’t make it because of office hours. To make up for that, all meetings are recorded, so every member has access to video calls and is a part of real-time communication. When needed, the HR team shares key meeting takeaways in a message so that everyone can learn the most important news.
Rule 3. Keep tasks in order
Another important factor in managing remote teams is workflow management. This includes assigning tasks, tracking progress, and ensuring that deadlines are met. Managing workflows effectively requires a clear understanding of every team member’s availability and the ability to use collaboration tools for task management. Tools like Trello, Asana, and Jira allow team members to view tasks, prioritize them, and track progress. Additionally, it may be helpful to establish guidelines for how tasks should be assigned, deadlines communicated, and progress reported.
When the whole team works in one office, many tasks are performed without needing a complex description. Different locations complicate the process, so each task should be organized so that the performer has as few questions as possible.
Rule 4. Give a choice
No process can be convenient for everyone, so when it comes to setting them up, the HR department helps to understand the people’s needs and supports the processes needed specifically for the global team. That means the HR department does not have to limit project management tools and team processes. On the contrary, the task of HR is to find what helps the team work together and use their best practices to incorporate it all into a flow. Whether your distributed team uses a messenger or other communication channels or whether emails work better is up to them. The manager needs to understand the best way to make all these processes effective.
Rule 5. Different countries — one company culture
Corporate culture is about shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and practices that guide the behavior of employees within an organization. It provides a sense of identity and belonging, which is especially important for remote workers who may feel isolated from the rest of the company. A strong corporate culture can help unite remote international teams and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals. Remote work culture should reflect the values of the entire company.
In conclusion, managing diverse teams across different offices and time zones is challenging, but implementing the right strategies can help with effective communication, streamlined workflows, and improved work-life balance. Keeping communication clear, making information accessible to everyone, keeping tasks in order, giving choices, and maintaining a strong corporate culture are all essential elements of successful remote team management. By following these rules and ensuring that remote workers feel supported and connected to the company as a whole, organizations can foster job satisfaction and mental health among their global teams. These rules helped WePlay Esports transition to remote work in the middle of a war, and we hope they are of use to you as well.