Over the past year I’ve not only been working from home but I’ve also been working with the Respoke team in Huntsville, AL, USA. Anyone that works remotely will tell you that it brings it’s own challenges in comparison to working in one office with your team members and peers around you. But throw into the mix a completely different timezone too and you’ve got a recipe for possible mayhem.
Nimble Ape is based in the UK so other than the few weeks of the year where our Daylight Saving schemes don’t match up, we’re 6 hours apart with Huntsville. When you think a working day is around 9 hours in total, that’s 2 thirds of your working day without your team mebers in the USA. That’s huge!
But throw into the mix a completely different timezone too and you’ve got a recipe for possible mayhem.
It’s funny that the Respoke team, who are part of the wider Digium company, is a communications company; Digium are the people behind Asterisk - the open source phone system. You’d think that being a communications company they’d have it down to an art by now; but with technology moving forward and the very nature of how people work constantly changing, even the team within Digium have to keep up.
I think the biggest thing that’s required to make remote working a success in any organisation is to treat every interaction as a remote friendly one - never forget about your remote peers - even if they’re in a completely different timezone. This is vital - any meeting you have needs to be remote enabled; even if no-one remote attends; it’s all about mindset.
If the company doesn’t attapt this remote first mindset, your attempt at remote working is doomed to fail.
Any meeting you have needs to be remote enabled; even if no-one remote attends; it’s all about mindset.
No single solution is available, we all work in different ways and with diferent needs. Here are a few of the solutions I use every day with different clients and peers:
- Screenhero (Closed to new users as they’re joining Slack, but we can invite you)
- Google Hangouts
- Conference calls using Asterisk / Switchvox
- An internal communications tool developed by Respoke - Apollo
- SIP calling
What’s interesting is that 3 of the applications on that list utilise
WebRTC, a technology we’ve been hugely excited about at Nimble Ape.
WebRTC is a technology we’ve been hugely excited about at Nimble Ape
A neat solution we’ve used with the Respoke team is a kind of tele-presence - utilising their PaaS service, we’ve essentially had a remote version of myself in Huntsville and visa versa with Huntsville in the UK - I’m permanently on a call with the Huntsville team, meaning people in Huntsville can just come into an office and talk to me; just as they would for any other member of the team.
You may have heard of the Double Robotics robot, this is something I’m hugely interested in trying out; especially as they have an SDK meaning that you can incorporate control of their robot over your own application/infrastructure - something that got the ideas rolling with Respoke’s iOS SDK currently in private Beta.
I’m permanently on a call with the Huntsville team, meaning people in Huntsville can just come into an office and talk to me
With such a time difference, the need for good communication really is vital and there is no right or wrong way of enabling better communication. It really does help that the Respoke team is distributed; most of the team is based in Huntsville but they have other members of the team throughout the USA.
The best solutions are usually the simplest and that’s exactly what we’ve found; making sure that at the end of the working day we update the rest of the team with where we got to with our workloads. For us in the UK this neatly fits in with our standup sessions but the US team make sure to update any relevant UK members via email. The simplest solution is definitely the best.
The best solutions are usually the simplest and that’s exactly what we’ve found
What solutions do you use to keep in touch with your remote peers?