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Working from Anywhere: Teamwork and Collaboration Tips

The Covid-19 pandemic has hastened the understanding that work can be done from anywhere. At least, that pertains to the software development industry. Employer organizations can have developers, testers, or project managers based anywhere in the world, provided that they have a stable internet connection.

If your organization is considering the work-from-anywhere model or more software development and QA teams and worries about possible performance drops, this article can dispel your concerns.

By Leo Prada, Technical Project Manager
November 19, 2021
Working from Anywhere in the World
Remote working allows organizations to choose workforce augmentation services or dedicated development teams from providers around the globe, save office maintenance costs, and give employees more workplace flexibility, seeing an upsurge in productivity.

In 2015, researchers estimated that employees who choose remote working from home become 13% more productive. During that experiment, the same workers were given a choice between remaining at home or returning to office work. The productivity of those who opted to continue working remotely rose to 22%.

On top of that, by allowing the 3.9 million US employees to work from home, organizations may help take more than 600,000 cars off the road for a year. Tones of greenhouse gases are avoided as a result, and oil savings run into millions of dollars. If you as an employer promotes more remote working jobs, you contribute to better air quality and sustainable consumption.
    At the same time, the work-from-anywhere model is often a synonym to the lack of socialization within a team, communication challenges, cultural misunderstandings, time zone differences, and data protection.
    Improving Teamwork and Collaboration
    If your organization wishes to obtain the benefits of remote working, make sure you use best practices to remove possible blockers to your team's growth and success:

    • Try to detect the cultural differences as early on in the process as possible. Then, identify how each culture can benefit your team and enrich the team experience by involving the high points. This task is complicated and takes energy, but it will improve communication dramatically.

    • Compensate it for the lack of bumping into each other at a water cooler with at least a virtual room or a slack channel. Consider arranging remote team-building activities like virtual games to find common ground, and make it a tradition.

    • Opt for video meetings whenever possible since body language provides lots of context to the topic of conversation. Written communication sometimes fails to convey the nuances of what speakers wish to express.


    • Adopt security policies for employees who work from home, especially if your organization works with sensitive data and processes lots of client information. Your workers should know how to keep the data they work with safe and protect themselves.

    By following those practices, you may reduce the level of stress within your team, increase work productivity and performance, save on event costs, establish continuous customer support, and achieve a higher data security level.
    How to Address Holidays Differences?
    You need to discuss it inside your organization and with your clients: which holidays will a team observe?

    Barbara Maheshwari, CEO at Remote Bob, explains, 'As a 100% remote company, we work from more than just one country, having clients from all over the world. That means we always have to look after the time zones difference and worldwide holidays. Every time we get in such a situation, we put our client's needs ahead of taking a rest.'

    Marin Mrša, Founder and CEO at Peekator, mentioned, 'We always put our employees first. The customer should respect local holidays.'

    Solvd's remote working policy allows hybrid schemes: some teams observe local holidays while others keep abreast with clients' day-offs. Usually, if a client prefers a staff augmentation model instead of a dedicated team, employees will become a part of a client's team and observe the client's holidays.
    Should Some Virtual Team Meetings Be in Person?
    You may have 2-3 virtual teams in separate locations working remotely, each as a contained unit. That gives you the possibility to have stronger locally built teams, where all team members share a common time zone, location, similar cultural background, and values.

    So, should those who prefer remote working from home commute to an office sometimes or travel for work to visit coworkers abroad?

    Juan Pablo Molinari from Accenture Argentina shared that his team works with clients from North America and has a 1-2-hours difference with Argentina, which poses no challenges. But as for their coworkers in India, teams may sometimes have to work during nights over there. And if a task is communicated at 3 PM Argentina time, it may get delayed one day for the India team to produce that deliverable. Having solid planning in place may help tackle that challenge.

    Juan Pablo also said that personal contact is necessary. He believes the best work mode is to have a gathering in the office about every 2 weeks, to have the idea exchange that you get when you are together.

    A similar opinion is shared across other organizations, for instance, in The USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office). In 2012 they launched a work-from-anywhere program that fostered remote working jobs but demanded employees to physically arrive at headquarters at least once a week. That is considered to be a proven way to maximize a team's KPIs.
    Conclusion
    The Covid-19 crisis revamped the attitude of global leaders in the software development industry to remote working and virtual teams. In addition, modern technology facilitates remote team management and makes it possible for employees to work from anywhere in the world without sacrificing productivity and effective communications.

    To improve teamwork and collaboration across your remote teams, your organization has to design a team's layout in a way to emphasize the strengths of a team and cultural matches, factors in locations, time zones, working hours, and holidays differences.