Working Together, 10,000 Miles Apart
It all sounds very glamorous, working in London and Tokyo, but what are the realities of trying to collaborate in different timezones? James lists up a few of the web technologies he and Robert are using to make things easier.
Telephones Are for Losers
With a broadband connection on all day, what are you doing wasting money on international phone bills? VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technologies such as Skype allow you to speak all day long at zero cost. Use a wireless Bluetooth headset and you're free to move about the office getting on with two things at once.
Web 2.0 is Where it's at
The internet doesn't just stop at your company site and webmail. Many new "Web 2.0" on-line applications allow for serious collaboration and data-sharing:
- Backpack provides free entry-level groupware features; essentially allowing you to write to do lists and share memos without e-mailing back and forth.
- Writeboard allows any number of on-line contributors to develop copy over consecutive edits, whilst all the time being able to compare previous versions and revert to them at any time.
- Rollyo, the "Roll your own search engine", lets you choose the websites you want to search through, essentially allowing you to remove irrelevant content, and focus on sites you know and trust.
- Once you've found all those great links, don't keep them to yourself! Collaborative bookmarking sites like del.icio.us let you not only access your bookmarks anywhere in the world, but let you share them and find similar content bookmarked by others too.
But even with all this technology, at the end of the day, you're still hours apart. Whilst it might seem like you'll only ever be awake at the same time for a few hours each day, this can actually work to your advantage.
A quick chat on a daily basis keeps you up to date without bogging you down like endless phone calls and e-mails would. The quiet space this creates lets you focus on the job in hand, resulting in tangible progress to pass on to your partner when your day ends, and theirs starts. In effect, allowing you to work on an almost 24 hour production line, without losing any sleep over it.