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This got me thinking about how many times I've run into equipment glitches
at deadline, what with every piece of gear having a built-in TPS (that's
"technician proximity sensor"). Fortunately, I'm usually the technician and
can sort things out after much process of elimination, but that's too
time-consuming when up against a deadline.
My suggestion? Have hardware backups of everything (printers, PC faxing
capability, scanners, phone systems, routers) and know the hours of your
local FedEx and UPS stores (MailBoxes Etc., whatever). Oh, and you never
know when your ISP is going to suddenly crap out on you, do you? Have
contingency plans so that you don't miss important meetings with your
On Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 7:02 AM, Lev Abramov <lev -dot- abramov -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> Dear all -
> first of all, a big thank you to all those who shared their insights
> regarding the online teamwork that I had requested. It looks like there are
> two main things to worry about: getting well-organized so as not to miss
> anything important (e.g., data loss) - and making sure not to tread on
> anyone's toes.
> The latest message in this thread was by chance sent to me only, not to the
> list, so I am reposting it to share with the list (and to encourage further
> discussion - I'm sure the topic has not been exhausted yet; at least I am
> totally fascinated by the wealth of ideas I've been getting).
> Needless to say I will share my initial reaction after the first working
> week with the list. My gut feeling is this new job is going to be quite an
> exciting experience.
> Best -
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
> Date: Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 2:41 PM
> Subject: Re: telecommuting - advice needed
> To: Lev Abramov <lev -dot- abramov -at- gmail -dot- com>
> Lev Abramov wondered: <<I have just been offered a three-month
> work-from-home contract (with a chance of becoming permanent). Decent pay
> and benefits. I will be collaborating with two teams in two totally
> different time zones (the Philippines and the US). Set hours (8 + 2 with a
> two-hour break in between).>>
> Congrats! I've been working virtually (as a freelance science editor with
> most of my clients in Japan and China) for the past 5 years, and love it.
> The first bit of advice I can give you is to invest several hours learning
> about the culture of your colleagues in the Philippines. Everywhere I've
> traveled in the world, I've found that locals greatly appreciated my
> to learn a bit of their language and customs.
> Without doing so, there are some (in)obvious traps, such as referring to
> everyone as "Filipinos"; if I've understood things correctly (check this
> carefully!), that is only one of several ethnic groups in the country. Your
> colleagues in the Philippines will probably all speak good English as part
> of the job requirements, but (as in India), some will have stronger accents
> than others, and they won't have a single monolithic language or culture.
> Learning which part of the Philippines culture each one belongs to will let
> you learn at least basic greetings in their language, what holidays they
> celebrate (some of which overlap with North American ones and some of which
> don't), and so on. Use this to establish relationships.
> <<what should I take into account? How should I brace myself for this new
> A useful reference: "Managing virtual teams" by M. Katherine Brown, Brenda
> Huettner, and Char James-Tanny (
>http://books.google.com/books?id=CLBWhRcifsEC or search via
> Haven't found time to read the book yet, but I know each of the authors
> personally, have worked with each of them at least occasionally, and know
> that each is eminently worth listening to. I've also chatted with each of
> them at various times about the book while it was being written, and it
> sounds like precisely the right book for you.
> Finding a convenient time when everyone can talk in real-time instead of
> e-mail is important. Negotiate this for all your teams, and block that time
> on your calendar so you can't accidentally allocate it elsewhere. If the
> time zones of the three teams really don't overlap, you may need to find
> or three times: one that is convenient for each team, so you can cycle
> through those times and ensure that everyone gets one or more weeks that
> most convenient for them, and one or more weeks that aren't convenient but
> are feasible.
> Make an even greater effort than usual to keep in touch with your manager
> and keep them informed about your status, without being annoying about it.
> One of the big problems is the proverbial "out of sight, out of mind". The
> manager needs to think of you as "the ghost in the machine", not something
> invisible and easy to forget about. Make sure the manager keeps you
> (at least quarterly) of the things they like about how you're working and
> the things they don't like; that avoids surprises at the annual performance
> appraisal. (This is also good advice for in-office wage slaves. <g>)
> Two big things to keep in mind. First and most important, most of your
> contacts will be via telephone (which lacks all the body language clues of
> face-to-face conversation) or e-mail (which also lacks vocal clues). This
> inevitably leads to misunderstandings, and it's easy to let those grow out
> of proportion. This is why emoticons and the like are so ubiquitous in
> e-mail: they provide some of that missing context. Never assume someone
> understood you or that they took your message the way you intended it to be
> taken; invest a bit more time error-proofing the communication and doing
> active listening (paraphrasing) thing to ensure that the correct message is
> received. Always attribute errors first to cultural differences or
> miscommunication, not malice or stupidity.
> Second, make a conscious effort to develop and maintain relationships. In a
> physical workplace, people drop by your office or you meet them at lunch
> social events, so much of the relationship is provided automatically by the
> environment. In the absence of in-person communication, you need to do the
> work yourself. For example, learn about birthdays, vacations, etc., and
> in contact (at a minimum) around those times. Share (work-appropriate and
> culturally appropriate) jokes once you get to know the people, but not
> before you get to know them; pass along useful Web resources; etc.
> Geoff Hart (www.geoff-hart.com)
> ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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