In 2019 we surveyed how our employees perceive the culture at MapsPeople. Whether working with software development or marketing, teamwork was mentioned to be a big part of MapsPeople culture. Also, despite working from three different locations, we’re one big team as we focus on things that are common rather than what's dividing us. But naturally, some things divide us. The biggest one being time difference, and believe us, it spices up teamwork. So you might ask how we work efficiently in distributed teams. Below we note a few key aspects that make our teamwork more efficient.
One of the key aspects is flexibility, which has another dimension at MapsPeople. This is due to the 7 hours time difference between our locations in Denmark and the US. This almost covers the whole working day, especially in situations where a night owl works together with an early bird. Not to forget to mention that we do business around the Globe, and sometimes a colleague might be on a business trip in Asia, meaning that the overlapping working hours are limited, if any.
So how to be flexible in these circumstances? It helps that we schedule meetings on the overlapping hours. Of course, this isn’t always possible, meaning that some days we take an early morning call or late evening call. This includes flexibility to take a call at home, from the car, or basically any place with an internet connection. Of course, it’s important to get to know the colleagues and learn the best times to set up meetings and how to work most efficiently. So if one day you need to take an evening call, the next morning you can sleep in.
Getting to know each other reflects another key factor: being connected. When half of the team is on the other side of the world, it might require a bit more effort to be in contact, which means that it also takes a bit more time to establish a relationship. When a colleague isn’t in the same location, it’s not as easy to grab a coffee and talk over the weekend plans as it's with the colleague from the neighbour desk. Therefore, it’s important for us to highlight transparent communication so that no one feels being left outside the team.
We wouldn’t be able to communicate transparently or be in contact with each other without technology. We use Google Meet and Slack daily to be in contact with our colleagues. Not only to share work-related information but also to see how colleagues are doing. When it comes to distributed teams, it’s not only being flexible and using technology but also feeling connected, which gets us to the perhaps most important part; the key for effective teamwork is to have room for a laugh now and then!