Distributed work with a global team

This morning was my last day in rural Washington State. I’m about to get on a plane back to Stanford.

One of my goals for the last 3 weeks was to get a good sense of how it feels to be a remote member of EPIC’s global team.

Answer? Not good.

Distributed teamwork is tough, especially in the early stages of a new, ambitious, complex project. And while the connection tools are better than ever, things like Skype, streaming video, and Webex are just good enough to make you really aware of how much you’re missing by not actually being in the same room as your colleagues.

Some conclusions:

1. Low bandwidth tools (like email lists, chat, and wikis) are actually better for getting real work done on a distributed team–tho they require more upfront thought and effort than just talking to your coworker face to face, (and filtering the ensuing message traffic is it’s own daunting issue).

2. We have to put much more effort into ensuring that our colleagues around the world are as much or more at the center of the project than we are at Stanford.

3. After 3 weeks of feeling very disconnected yet seeing how things have forged ahead without me, it’s extra clear my team is an amazing group of committed, determined, very smart people, and I’m more grateful for them than ever.