How to Manage Remote Workers Across Timezones
The biggest challenge in a distributed, remote team is knowledge transparency
Asynchronicity, the fact that people aren't all online at the same time because of time zones, is a key feature of remote teams, and it makes it hard to keep projects flowing. You can't ask real-time questions of your peers or manager; you're constantly passing the baton and then waiting for them to wake up and start work.
Knowledge transparency, how much and how effectively information is shared with different people, is a key element to combatting asynchronicity.
Remote companies have to commit to a level of transparency far beyond what works for in-person companies. This transparency manifests in everything from detailed meeting notes, for people who weren't able to attend, to OKRs and being extremely transparent across the board about different people and teams' priorities.
When you're considering the amount of effort to put into sharing some knowledge, the tools you're going to use, the amount of words and images needed, and where that information will live, there are 3 things to consider.
3 Things to Think About Every Time You're Sharing Knowledge:
Importance - Pretty basic but often overlooked or taken as an assumption. What's the net affect of this information on the business. That will definitely affect how well it's stored and conveyed to people.
Who it affects - It's important to ask yourself this every time, because it's too easy in a remote workforce to forget different partners who may be affected by, say, changes in the way the sales team tracks their deals in the CRM.
What action horizon (none, immediate, long-term). This is particularly important for the channel and storage of the information. Things that need to be referred to time and again probably shouldn't live as an unpinned Slack floating in a channel.
In short, making sure that knowledge isn't asynchronous, that people can access the information they need in real-time as much as possible, is the key goal for a successful distributed team. Senior leadership must commit to invest in the right technology, prioritize the time required to document everything, and correctly value the upside of effective, distributed teamwork for remote companies to succeed.