Many companies make the mistake of thinking that, by removing the limitations of an office-based workforce, they can hire anyone anywhere in the world. While a distributed company can certainly employ workers from a wider swath of the globe, leaders also need to consider how much synchronous, real-time communication their teams will need.
Synchronous technologies such as audio and video-conferencing are better for strategic planning, creative ideation, trust building, and generally getting-everyone-on-the-same-page. If coworkers are more than 7 time zones away from one another (note that for most of the year Los Angeles and London offset by 8 hours), there won't be enough overlap in the 9-to-5 workday to have a real-time meeting.
Asynchronous communication methods (email, message boards, etc.) do a great job of supporting tactical work. Employees can crank up their music and disappear into their projects without being interrupted. However, when decoupled from regular real-time check-ins, trust and efficiency can deteriorate.
Distributed companies should have a time zone policy. It may vary by team or department. But having guidelines in place will make hiring easier, and encourage happier, more rested, and more connected teams.
– Jeff Robbins
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