Preschool in Bangalore, babysitting by Dad in Ireland and baseball coach in Virginia. Three continents, 9.5 hours of time zone difference and kids ranging from 3 to 11. Deadlines for Big Data dashboards, QA work pending and a big query that must run in .5 seconds. When can you meet and what is needed to get this done today? Software professionals, like many others have the opportunity to work with teammates from all over the world while raising families and earning a living that is rewarding and challenging. But how do you balance everything?
At our company we have a vision for our future that includes making a significant impact on the productivity of our clients. At the same time we are all committed to ensuring everyone has sufficient time with family and friends. We have fathers and mothers that want to spend more time with their kids so flex-time around sports and school events is very helpful. We also have staff on three continents. Since know how to communicate and work in different time zones, we have a great opportunity for stay at home parents in Asia that want to be available for their kids during the day but still work 3-4 hours with teams in the US. About the time that parents put young children to bed in Asia, we are just in the middle of our day here on the east coast of North America.
It started with our vision, but we found the key to a global work force was great communication, systems and trust. It does take a bit more time up front to work remotely. We have to be very clear and have trusting relationships. We had a benefit that we all worked together in the same place to get to know each other so we build our trust face-to-face. However, maintaining our relationships as worked apart was critical. Until we had our process and systems in place the trust could not compensate for the need for clarity and clear roles and responsibilities.
It is not all perfection and peace, but what is? There remain conflicts and challenges. What professional ever has enough time or resources to do everything perfectly? We like our progress and team work. The focus on the balance also means that we must sometimes choose work when an important deadline or a critical situation requires our efforts at inconvenient times. Just like our team at work must help each other, our family and friends also must help out. We try to remind ourselves that flexibility allows for special events to fit nicely to compensate when the work load is not so convenient to our personal lives.
A few key items that we have found that make it work
1. Dedicated space with a door to remind children that this is work space
2. Reliable internet connection so that web meetings can use video
3. Asking clarifying questions in advance to avoid wasting time waiting for answers when other time zones are not working
4. Shared calendars so necessary meetings can be scheduled easily
5. Agendas and detailed questions sent in advance of meetings to use time wisely
Work life balance is a key driver for many – flex time and global work forces allow interesting work life balance options. The challenges of global times zones allow interesting work family balance options. At BandyWorks we have a number of parents that address their family needs by using the time zone to enable both a work career and a strong family balance. Of course working at home pays back both work travel time and expense. The other side is making sure we separate our work space from our home space – both the physical and the mental. As with our software projects, we continue to learn and improve as we go forward.
The 6 Rights of AccountabilityAccountability – Six things to get Right – Start with Vision
Accountability – Six Things to Get Right – 2. The Right Seat on the Bus
Acountability – Six Things to Get Right – 5. Teamwork