How do you make your team more efficient when employees are split between the US and in Europe ?

Valentin Haarscher
20 replies
At my current company we plan to hire employees in the US. The full team is currently based in Europe and I am looking for tips and tricks when the team is in different time zones, such as : - how to run all hands meetings ? - how to create link between teams ? - which tools do you recommend ? Thanks in advance !


Jim Morrison
When we started to spread out internationally (we're only a small team but across ~23h now) we were a bit disjointed because people we still working on "their own thing" We've now got into a 3x week cycle, rotating our main sprint around our three core products... We find really clear short sprints work well, where folks are running in relay ... so the team have to hand-off properly as the next team picks up the baton. I've also found all-hands *super important*; we go in turns and sound off: - stuff I learned this week - recent successes & challenges - ask for help with something - my KPI update (self-defined) Feedback I've got is that folk love to hear and understand about other teams, help out in places outside their team etc. Helps with cohesion & the cross-disciplinary helping-out keeps the WFH monotony at bay a bit. Hope that helps @valentin_haarscher πŸ™Œ
Valentin Haarscher
@jimbomorrison Awesome, thank you so much Jim ! At what time (and time zone) do you organise your all hands ?
Jim Morrison
@valentin_haarscher ha. There's no easy answer to that. Things are changing pretty fast (and daylight hours changing doesn't help) but at the moment we're trying 1130GMT which is just about acceptable for everyone. EveryTimeZone is your friend! Not sure how we'll keep up as the team grows... there's a product idea there - an app to facilitate global, async all-hands! :o)
Brittany Salas
Without going into too much detail.... Spending a couple hours with Zoom on in the background once a week. The goal is not actively engaging in a planned meeting but rather do our own work and leaving the floor open to ad hoc questions and interruptions. Plus all the planned sprint and weekly updates in between.
Damien Martin
Shufti Pro has offices in different regions too, so we had the same issue. However, we have decided a time that is not inconvenient for anyone. For instance, you can choose 11 am Europe time to be in touch with the US employees. I can help better if I know the US state you have the office in. Google Meets is the best tool for online meetings. We use it for all the meetings. I hope this helps. Cheers!
Ilia Pikulev
Make video or audio calls at least once per two days - messages are dry, people sometimes interpret your thoughts differently when they see just letters. So, that is quite important to have a direct interaction with your colleagues/employees for crucial parts of the project. For minor, routine parts of the project, it is always better to use asynchronous communication, so people are not feeling stressed about non-important things (until they get important at least). Just create a project in any project management tool and keep track of it (will require significant amount of time to track) :) As for the tools, Teams and Trello are always good to start with. As of our team, we are actually happy with using Coloban (Calls, Chats, Kanban, Eisenhower, Calendar). Sorry, yes, we are close to that project, but I couldn't resist telling about it :).
Valentin Haarscher
@ilia_pikulev Thanks Ilia super helpful. Can you share Coloban's website ? I'd like to check it out
Dimitris Karavias
Do you really need all hands with everyone present or could you do an async format? Something like: Main presentation 24 hours for questions in writing Presentation answering questions If any conversations need to be continued, use the tools you already use. The best way to unite remote teams in my experience is games. If you have offices, stock them up with Nintendo Wii If not, plenty of browser-based options.
Valentin Haarscher
@dkaravias We indeed launched game nights at Cycle to create bonds in the team during this pandemic. We loved Among us and GarticPhone πŸ‘Œ Any other suggestions ?
Dimitris Karavias
@valentin_haarscher You can get hours of fun from Drawful and the other stuff at Only one participant needs a subscription so its super cheap and the games are accessible to everyone, not just seasoned gamers.
Maxim Frostman
There are many videos on this topic available on Youtube. To my understanding, most of the issues can be easily overcome using modern technology. We use Trello+ our own time tracking software+ have Zoom meetings daily. However, the time difference between our team members' locations is no bigger that 4 hours.
Jack Davis
Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier suggested that you have some hours that overlap when everyone is online at the same time. This way everyone can talk if need at a certain time, with also allowing people extended chunk of time to focus without interruption as well.
Edward Park
We do virtual daily standups in the time in tandem - that is the core of running teams in different time zones in my experience. Other than that, I encourage our team members interact more - I think this is better than being too isolated.