International Software Teams - EZ Talks 14 | frontendhouse.com
Working Across Time Zones - International Software Teams

December 10, 2021

Working Across Time Zones - International Software Teams - Experts Zone Talks #14

Olga Vasylenko

Marketing Specialist

Adrian Wolanski

Frontend Developer
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How to cooperate across time zones? How does the work with international software development teams look like? About the process, communication, challenges, tips, and best practices tells Adrian Wolanski, our Front end Developer.

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In the "Working Across Time Zones - International Software Teams" episode you will find:

  • 00:00 - Intro
  • 01:53 - Example of global software development project
  • 02:58 - Working across borders and time zones
  • 04:21 - What challenges do global software teams have to face?
  • 05:21 - Handy tools and life hacks
  • 07:46 - Communication in global teams and software companies
  • 10:18 - Why do companies work with international software teams?
  • 11:51 - Advice for team members working with global projects
  • 13:07 - What does the work look like in a remote team?

Have a nice watch! Don’t forget to like the video and leave comments to share your impressions!

Transcription

Olga
Hi. My name is Olga, and this is Expert Zone Talks. Today I have a special guest, Adrian, and we'll talk about cooperation across time zones. So let's start.
Adrian
Let's start.

Let's meet Adrian


Olga
Tell a few words about yourself, please. And about your project.
Adrian
Sure. I'm frontend engineer working in Liki from the very beginning. I started five years ago.
Olga
Or eight years?
Adrian
Yeah, it might be, but I started my career as a graphic designer.
Olga
Wow.
Adrian
And I was preparing web layouts for two years, these kinds of things. And I smoothly changed into the front end because my colleagues needed to work on some simple stuff like HTML, CSS, etc. And you know, I was bored after these two years, so I thought that maybe it will be something great to learn new stuff. And that's where I am.
Olga
So you are not bored anymore?
Adrian
No, no.
Olga
Since you became a front end developer?
Adrian
Yeah. I don't want to say anything bad about being a graphic designer, but working as a developer is forcing me to learn new stuff every day. Because if you stop, you are taking steps back instead of being at the same level.
Olga
And you will quickly become outdated.
Adrian
Exactly.

Example of global software development project
Olga
And what about your project?
Adrian
I'm working in Knowde. This is a company that is proud to make the largest in the world B2B market - chemical marketplace. I'm working with people from different countries, from different time zones. So it's a really interesting thing.
Olga
It is an American company, right?
Adrian
It is.
Olga
Is that the reason for your American accent?
Adrian
Maybe. I learned English basically while working on this particular project. When I started, I remember that the last time I was using language was in my studies and I forgot almost everything. On the first dailies I was prepared - I wrote my dailies on the paper, every sentence that I wanted to say. And trust me, it was like cold days for me. I was very stressed, my language was terrible. And after four years, I didn't have any lessons, it was just talking about the project.

Working across borders and time zones


Olga
And you cooperate with people from different countries and time zones?
Adrian
Yeah, I work in distributed software development environments. Like, obviously the US, no matter what side of the US - East Coast, West Coast. Also India, Germany, and people from Europe. And it's really difficult to manage this work with that many different time zones.
Olga
Yes. Crazy differences in time zones.
Adrian
Yeah. And all cultural differences also. You need to be prepared for that when you deal with global development.
Olga
And how do you deal with all of them?
Adrian
I just learned it. Simple, right? :) It was really hard at the beginning because you had to get used to it and you had to figure out a kind of plan how you will be working with them to make that work comfortable for everybody. You need to organize your work. You need to be really flexible to prepare all of that to make everybody happy. Because otherwise after some time, people can be in a place where they will be just tired of working with really odd hours, etc.

What challenges do global software teams have to face?


Olga
What are the main challenges for you personally?
Adrian
For me, it's to have a really good work balance. Because for me, the most important part of my life is my family, so I don't want them to feel that I'm only focused on my work. I need to set some boundaries, where for some part of the day I'm really focused on work and nothing can distract me. And after working hours I really want to focus on my family, play with kids, spend time with my wife, and do some home stuff as a husband, right?
Olga
Wow, developers are also husbands sometimes. Surprised. But I know that you deal with all of that successfully.
Adrian
I hope so. I don't want to rate myself, but somebody else should judge me.
Olga
Okay, but I have information that you do it successfully. Believe me.

Handy tools and life hacks for working in international software development projects


Olga
Do you use some special tools or life hacks to set your boundaries and work with a global team?
Adrian
For us, if we want to talk, for example, what are the special tools to manage our project, I can count, let's say, three main tools. First, one is a tool to manage our project properly. In our case, it's Jira where we are organizing our tickets, what a sprint will look like, some measurement tools that can tell us immediately about risk in projects. The second tool is Slack. I can't imagine working without a chat tool where I can just call somebody, I can make some video calls. That's a really nice example of communication technology. And there are many integration applications that are notifying me about different things, so I can react really quickly. And I believe the main one is a simple calendar, to be honest.
Olga
Paper version.
Adrian
Not really because it will not give us the notification.
Olga
Yeah, it's a problem.
Adrian
Exactly. But I was really avoiding using a calendar app for a long time in the past, because I really like to be organized by myself to know where I have everything. But right now, working in my current, let's say, sub-team, we need to schedule different calls on a daily basis. So without proper notifications where from time to time we have to also move these calls by 1 or 2 hours, reschedule calls to another day… So remembering all these changes is impossible. And without notifications, it would be truly hard. Right now, in the calendar app, I organize working days comparing to my private stuff.
Adrian
It's the most important thing in my opinion right now.

Communication in global teams and software companies


Olga
Do you usually use synchronous or asynchronous communication, when you're recording some videos at night for people to watch in the morning? How do virtual teams work?
Adrian
I believe both. And both communication types are really important. Because obviously, we want to be as much asynchronous as possible because everybody is trying to respect our working hours. So everything that can give us this type of communication, like you said, recording videos, making screenshots, even leaving audio messages, writing proper documentation, or proper ticket descriptions, can place us in a situation where we understand everything and we can just work. Without the need to communicate synchronously.

But obviously, also synchronous communication cannot be replaced. If somebody will miss something, don't understand some crucial part in a new feature, it's much simpler to just step into a quick call, clarify details and start working on it instead of chatting for two or three days. Because we have to remember that if I'm talking and clarifying some things in some tickets with people from the US, I'll put some key messages for him, let's say, during my working hours and I have to wait for a response. So that asynchronous communication, even if we are using live chat, can take a few days to clarify whether it's needed.
Olga
Isn't it annoying when somebody sends you a large… giant audio message?
Adrian
Not at all, because like I said, it can save us time. He's recording that video, even a long one, to help me. Because he respects my working hours. Maybe thanks to that video, where I'll spend, I don't know, even ten minutes to watch it, I will understand more. There are also advantages of making these videos because I don't need to remember all the stuff. I can jump to the beginning of that video, watch it again to make sure that I understand everything. So it has a lot of advantages in my opinion.

Why do companies work with international software teams?


Olga
Why do companies decide to work with international teams?
Adrian
Two reasons. First of all, we have really great engineers in Poland and nobody will ever complain. Yeah, software engineering in Poland is on a high level. Second, cost-saving, because if we compare Polish and US developer, you'll see the difference.
Olga
Yeah, that's true. How to avoid odd hours, which lead to burnout when you're working at night or working early morning?
Adrian
You need to set boundaries. For me, it's really simple because I have my family. That's my main priority. Like I said before if I know that I'm not distracted during my workday, I need the same when I'm stepping out from my desk. Then I need to be fully focused on my family. I want to spend a really efficient time with them, playing some board games, watching some movies, cartoons, whatever. So when I focus on them, it's really easy to not think about the project. That's my case. But definitely, you need to set really good boundaries.

Advice for team members working with global projects


Olga
Do you have some pieces of advice for people who are just starting their way in international cooperation?
Adrian
So it's really a few things. It's similar to remote work where you have to set boundaries. You have to use some tools that will help you work with people that you cannot meet in the office. Good communication is the key. You have to describe what's happening in your project because the other side needs to understand what's happening and also plan their work. And also you need to be flexible from time to time and dedicated. Because from time to time you will need to work the whole day - if something will happen during cooperation with a different time zone, like with people from the US for example. But we are trying to not make it like a habit.
Olga
But I think that working all day if something happens is common for every developer. Not only during international cooperation.
Adrian
I have to agree.

How does the work look like in a remote team?


Olga
Yeah. You've talked about remote work. How long do you work remotely?
Adrian
I've been working remotely for one year. I started just before the pandemic, and it really helped.
Olga
That’s more than one year already.
Adrian
Yeah, maybe I didn't count it. But for me, it was helpful because I moved to the village, and I was planning to be in the office once or twice per week. But that whole situation forced me to work fully remotely. So I really had to get used to it really quickly and learn it. Because for me, it was a process. Working remotely you need to care about your mental and physical condition because you're spending almost half of your day, even more maybe, at your desk. So after work you need to force your body to move, to do something healthy. For me, it's, for example, soccer, football, gardening. And obviously, my family. I can't be bored with them.
Olga
Catching your kids running away :) Yeah, it's really important nowadays to take care of mental health and just health.
Adrian
Exactly.
Olga
It's really important. Okay, I think we can finish our talk, unfortunately, but thank you so much.
Adrian
Thank you very much.
Olga
Thank you for this talk. It was great. And see you next time in the next episode. You can also visit our frontandhouse.com website to watch more videos.
Adrian
Thank you.
Olga
Thank you. So see you soon. Bye.
Adrian
See you.

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Meet the authors

Olga
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Olga Vasylenko

Marketing Specialist

Adrian
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Adrian Wolanski

Frontend Developer

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