01 Feb 2021

Today, where you work is not as important as it once was. It's no secret that more and more teams are going global. As remote work has become more popular and organizations see the benefit of working with diverse teams, they've also had to figure out how to adapt. In this post, we'll give you tips to help you manage the challenges that come with working with talent across different time zones.

Managing time zone differences may seem complicated but fortunately, it isn't as difficult as you think. With the right tools and systems in place, you can help your team get work done and even boost productivity. 

How do you manage a software development team across time zones?

Here are some best practices for managing a software development team across time zones:

Set requirements and expectations 

As you bring people into your team, make sure everyone is clear on what you expect from them and what your processes are. If you start with everyone on the same page, it will be much easier to manage your team.

Choose tools for your team

It's essential to find the right tools to support this way of working. You need to make it easy for members of your to collaborate, no matter where they’re based.

Here are some of the most popular tools for remote teams: 

  • Slack - Slack is one of the most common tools for remote teams across time zones. Features include automated reminders, instant messaging, calls, note-taking, and more. 

  • Google Meet & Google Chat - If you are already using GSuite for your organization, you may consider using these tools, which replace Google Hangouts. They allow for messaging and video conferencing with your team.

  • Zoom - Zoom is a simple audio and video conferencing tool for teams. If you're looking for a tool that is easy for every member of your team to use, this is likely a good option for you. 

  • Microsoft Teams - At Unosquare we are actively using Microsoft Teams. If you like to read why we use this platform, we have an article on our decision to work with Office 365 to manage our communications.

Scheduling and sending communication

Next, you may want to consider implementing some tools that can make it easier for you to understand time differences and optimize your communication with your team. Here are a few to consider.

  • Every Time Zone - As the name suggests, this tool makes it easy to visualize what time it is in every time zone. It allows you to get a full understanding of which team members are likely to be online and who is likely to be away in a single view. 

  • Doodle - Need to schedule a quick meeting? This tool makes it much easier to find time to connect with your team. You can simply send out a poll and let users check off all the times that will work for them, so you don't have to guess when someone will be available. 

  • Boomerang - If you use Gmail, Boomerang helps you schedule emails to reduce the risk of messages getting lost or ignored. This is great for teams across time zones because it allows you to schedule messages to send at a time when your team member is likely to see them.

Set regular meetings 

Having the ability to book impromptu meetings is great, but regular meetings are the key to keeping your team on track. The schedule for these meetings may look different depending on what your team needs. Daily standups are common for development teams to ensure that everyone is making progress and has what they need. At a minimum, however, your team should connect at least once per week. 

Find the overlaps

It's a good thing to adjust your work style to accommodate several timezones. However, you should still pay special attention to any existing overlaps. While several team members may not have overlapping “office hours” there may be some that do. That means there could still be plenty of opportunities for people to work together and potentially get work done faster. 

Leverage agile methodology

Using the agile methodology increases the likelihood that your project will be successful. However, often, when we think about agile, we think about processes and techniques for traditional, in-house teams. That said, you can and should still leverage this methodology even when managing a software development team across time zones. 

You can use your communication tools to stay in close contact with your team and use video conferencing to run meetings. You can even use a digital whiteboard to have more effective planning and design sessions. 

Create clear documentation

To successfully manage projects across time zones, everyone should know where to go to find information and processes. This includes things like long-term and short-term goals, and internal policies. When your organization operates this way and has documentation to reference as a single source of truth, projects will go more smoothly.   

Plan ahead 

Scheduling for teams across time zones can be complex, but planning ahead can make this much easier. To start this process, list out all major holidays that different members of your team celebrate to get a full picture of when people may be out of office. Consider adding country-specific calendars to your personal and work calendars to keep this top of mind.

When planning projects, keep your team in the loop as much as you can. While things may change or evolve over time, giving people the information they need about requirements and deadlines as early as possible will help them stay on track. 

Need to augment your team?

Managing your team well is important, but on some projects, you may need to do more to fill in skill gaps. If that sounds like something you need, reach out to us. Unosquare helps organizations operationally augment technology teams, design and build user experience focused web applications and products, and drive client initiatives in digital transformation in our industries of focus.

We work with the best talent in the world. That way, you can outsource with confidence and bring in the expertise you need to get your software development project done. Let us provide expertise for your teams in a way that is fast, transparent, and efficient. To find out more about what Unosquare can do for your organization, check out our blog.

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