Open Thread – What’s your biggest dispersed team frustration?

Open Thread – What’s your biggest dispersed team frustration?

Jun 30, 10 • In Discussion

No article today. Instead, since this is a community site instead I though it might be fun to get a conversation started. Topic: what is your biggest frustration with working in a dispersed team?

Does your screen sharing tool keep crashing?  Does your teammates go incommunicado for hours on end? Are you just tired of wearing the same pair of pajamas to work every day? Whatever your complaint, give voice to it in the comments. You just might find that someone else out there has the same problem Рor even better, has a solution!

P.S. If you know other remote workers who might be interested in this topic, please tweet this post! Let’s get a lively discussion going!

Title photo by Jonno Witts

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8 Responses to Open Thread – What’s your biggest dispersed team frustration?

  1. Since I’m the only remote worker on my team, my big frustration is missing out on the undocumented / informal / face-to-face exchange of policies and procedures for the rest of the team. I guess I would call it “lore”. I’m not sure there’s any help for it, it’s not intentional on their part, unless we had a lot more remote people to help level the playing field.

    • Ryan Slobojan says:

      I’d agree with this – I refer to it as “ambient communication”, and it’s e.g. overhearing a discussion in which you have a suggestion for a fix, or other such “communications of opportunity”. One approach that I’ve seen which worked surprisingly well was for remote people to be Skyped into a common conference which was also linked to a speakerphone in the dev area, and you could participate in ambient communication that way – however, it’s a bit tricky, and might take e.g. CB Radio training to ensure you don’t flood the group channel with individual communications.

  2. Ashish Tonse says:

    I love working from home but often there are times when you have to explain a concept to someone and having a whiteboard present would really help. The alternative is some kind of whiteboarding software, tablets, etc. (I’ve done both but can’t expect everyone to be comfortable with it). So the #1 problem is just the exchange of complex ideas is more difficult.

  3. My biggest frustration is not getting feedback fast enough. I’ll get into the zone, get some portion of the website mocked up, and send out some screenshots. Then, I wait… and wait… and wait. At some point, I get back five criticisms (some of which are very good input), but I’ll have lost my flow. I miss hallway usability testing, even though I know it breaks others’ concentration.

  4. I agree with James…when co-located, I enjoy the speed at which things can get decided, coded, reviewed, tested, and pushed to production. It’s easy to get into a real serious “let’s get this shit done” flow and bang out tons of features.

  5. Evan Light says:

    Hour-to-hour visibility into what colleagues are working on. Sure, a shared chat (e.g., Campfire) or an open Skype channel can ameliorate this to a degree. However, there is more fluidity in sharing the same space.

    Even so, I still tend to prefer remote work!

  6. For me it’s something similar to Ashish, being able to explain a concept quickly. Sometimes text chat or even skype bandwidth isn’t enough and you need to sketch something quickly on a whiteboard. Going to try a Google Drawing next time and see how that works.

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