- Meeting Deadlines
There’s nothing like face-to-face communication when emphasizing the importance of meeting a deadline. An email memo doesn’t have the same power as an in-person meeting, and meetings can be delayed when dealing with different time zones.
Solution: Always set clear expectations and document everything. Software, like Basecamp, is great for tracking individual responsibilities and accomplishments on a project-to-project basis.
- Communicating Clearly
Miscommunication can occur easily in any situation, but it tends to be more common in written media since it’s hard to comprehend tonality and attitude. Reading facial expressions isn’t foolproof, either, even over Skype video calls.
Solution: You may think that you’ve made yourself clear, but if the receiving party doesn’t actually understand your message, it doesn’t matter. Avoid this by asking colleagues to verify the message. Over the phone, have colleagues repeat what you’ve just said in their own words. With email, I ask that recipients not only confirm the receipt of the information, but also agree to meet deadlines and other requests.
- Maintaining Group Dynamics
Social interactions and building camaraderie are much easier in person. Creative brainstorming sessions are also generally more energized and productive when everyone’s in one room. That same level of connection is difficult—but not impossible—to achieve remotely.
Solution: We utilize a group-posting feature on Skype that’s open all the time. Everyone can share comments and links, whether they’re industry-related or social. We say “good morning” or at least touch base when we first fire up in the morning and “goodbye” at the end of the day. Because we cover many time zones, our staff began saying “Mo’evening!”
- Maintaining Productivity
Keeping projects on track is more difficult when employees are spread across different time zones. Developing a complex website or product requires each person to complete his part in a timely manner to keep the team—and the launch dates—from getting held up.
Solution: Predictability inspires profitability. Completing revenue-generating projects consistently is the foundation for any successful enterprise and contributes to managing expenses and increasing profit margins. We collectively set reasonable, attainable project goals for each team member by creating a calendar of deliverables as a group via Skype, while one person enters everything in Basecamp.