Vladislav Kochelaevs - Fotolia
Distributed teams don't work in all organizations; it's important to have an already-established culture of distributed work. Some companies insist on "face time," which makes distributed Agile stand-ups extremely difficult to facilitate.
But a face time approach deprives teams of access to the best and most knowledgeable talent no matter where they are located. It also makes it difficult for teams that have been combined through mergers and acquisitions.
But if the culture has already been established, doing Agile stand-ups and other meetings are easy. One option is to have dispersed team members work on the same schedule with those in earlier time zones. That can work if team members agree, and if the time difference is no more than a few hours. It may be possible to compromise on a time that works for all.
I've worked with offshore teams as well as nearshore teams. It worked best to meet with offshore teams in my early morning, at the end of their day. They appreciated my efforts to meet with them during their work hours. With nearshore teams, it's easier to plan meetings because they are in closer time zones.
I've also worked with a team in China, halfway around the world and a full 12 hours difference. That was a challenge, because one group or another is always up later into the evening. As Asian countries become more involved in offshoring, finding ways of collaborating with those teams will become more and more important.
For those types of distributed teams, consider using a wiki or similar tool to enable all team members to post information for the entire team to view and respond to. And ultimately, it's important for distributed teams to meet in person, at least once or twice a year, so they can establish bonds that help working relationships.
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