Agency life, as you may know, can be quite the roller coaster. Some days are hectic, some are easy. Every day is different. Having to work with a bi-coastal team may seem impossible to handle, but it doesn’t have to be.
A company receives many benefits when having multiple offices, but naturally, communication becomes more challenging. Being on a bicoastal team myself, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to combat these challenges. Keep these methods in mind and you’ll be a pro in no time:
This, by far, is the most important piece of advice to keep in mind. Different time zones are most likely to be a big barrier for your teams, however, it’s something everyone will adjust to eventually. It’s okay to gently remind your team that a 10:00 am call East coast time is a bit too early, as you may still be in your pajamas out on the West coast. Likewise, a 3:00 pm call Pacific Time may be too late for the New Yorkers that are already on their way to happy hour. It’s a two-way street of consistent and clear communication so both sides feel respected.
Time zones aren’t the only thing to be mindful of. When you can’t lean over to your colleague’s desk to ask them a question, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and give them a call. If it happens more than once, don’t worry. Three times? Go for it. Your colleagues will appreciate that you are proactive when figuring out a solution, instead of waiting around for them to get back to you.
Use different methods of communication
Embrace the advances of technology and be willing to try different methods of communication between offices. Whether that means using FaceTime for an internal brainstorm, Skype for a client meeting or GChat to review work, stay open minded. Video conferencing can help foster closeness similar to face-to-face meetings. After a few attempts, you’ll find a groove between both teams.
Be on time
Punctuality when working on a team based out of different offices is extremely important. Yes, things happen. Meetings run over and things get in the way, however, respecting someone else’s time will go a long way. If you’re running late, shoot the other person a courtesy text letting them know what’s going on.
Get to know your teammates on a personal level
Take the time to get to know your coworkers outside of the work place. Ask what their interests and hobbies are. Identifying commonalities and mutual interests help build a relationship not just as coworkers, but as friends. Knowing who is on the other side of the phone and their personality, helps to understand their communication and work styles.
Whenever possible and if your schedule allows, visit the other offices. Team building and face-to face communication that comes with meeting in person are tremendously valuable. If you get the chance in person, do something fun! Get to know each other by having a walking meeting or grabbing lunch at a local restaurant. When I visit the Boston office, I get taken to a local restaurant for pizza nachos. Yup you heard me, pizza nachos.