For many of our customers, this question comes up a LOT. We've gone through all of the proposals, agreed upon the requirements, signed agreements and kicked off projects.
Now our customers want to know...'How do I engage with distributed teams?'
The answer is surprising simple.
The same way you would with local teams! Especially, in our current Covid-19 state, most (if not all) of our collaboration is taking place in Teams, Zoom, WebEx or whatever means we can use to get in front of each other to discuss project specifics.
Practically speaking, here are a few tips to help you navigate working with distributed teams.
Daily Check-Ins - in other words, have regular communication with your distributed team. Nothing fosters misunderstanding than ambiguity. If you're not communicating, then how do you know what is going on?
Share Life - our lives are so much more than just the daily grind. Share what is going on with your family, friends, home, whatever! Want to go even further? Turn on your web camera when you have your daily standups and give them a tour of your home office (or kitchen - if that is where you are setup). It's also fun if your fur babies or baby babies come charging in the room too...that stuff gets on CNN.
Flexible Hours - it may be necessary early in a project to have your distributed teams work your same hours, but only for a very limited period of time. Imagine being forced to work from 8PM to 6AM; how productive would you be and what does that do to your circadian rhythm! An overlap of hours is sufficient, but depending on the team player role, they may be able to work their normal day shift hours.
Choose a Framework - if you're following a Agile framework, then select a methodology that works best for your team; e.g. Kanban vs. Scrum. Both are different, but research both and decide what works best for your team/project.
In the end, the key to engaging distributed teams is just like a good marriage...communication. Gifts work too, but communication is much easier.