Around the World but Together

The five of us are catching up with each other after the long holiday while we wait for our boss, who has just informed that he would be a little delayed. Huddled in the meeting room, we share with each other how we spent the long Christmas and New Year holidays.

In the two years, we have grown very fond of each other and the miles of distance between us didn’t matter anymore. We were perfectly at ease in our virtual meeting room smiling, nodding, laughing, and teasing each other through the square little window located in the corner of our laptop screens where we could clearly see each other. The week long break has surely been good to all of us. Everyone was bright and cheerful.

Work on beach_medium
We always visualise our colleague from the island like this. [P.C. Executives Global ]
It was almost bedtime for me, while someone else had just started their day, again someone was having their usual shot of evening coffee, and someone had just woken up. Being from all four corners of the world, this wasn’t surprising. While I worked out of Bangalore, someone worked out of Paris, someone else worked out of Toronto, someone was from North Carolina, someone from Charlotte, and all of us envied the one who worked out of a picturesque island in the Pacific Ocean.

About 3 years back, I found myself in the middle of some churnings and reorgs in the company. As a result, all of a sudden I found myself in a team where I was the only one working out of India, rather Asia. Though working with people across the globe wasn’t new to me but being part of a completely virtual team certainly was.

After the initial teething problems, I discovered that working virtually with globally dispersed colleagues has more advantages than disadvantages. The greatest advantage for me is that it gives me the flexibility of work timings. I can effectively blend in my personal life with work life. I have the flexibility to go into office or work out of home.

Also, interacting with people from other countries gives me the unique opportunity to get insights into their cultures, something that always fascinates me.

The greatest challenge of virtual work for me however, is being disciplined and drawing the line between work life and personal life.

Neither of this is me but you will almost always find me either sitting on the floor or leaning on the couch [P.C. – Global News and GoodStock Photos ]
Technology enables us to work flawlessly despite being scattered all around the world. I find working around different time zones highly effective. My worktime starts while it ends in another part of the world. This provides me a specific window of focused time to complete my work.

All of us have adjusted our work routines in order to ensure at least 2-3 hours of being together. All our meetings and dependencies need to happen in that window.

At the same time, we are cautious not to fall into the trap of all work and no play. Though we do assemble once a year at some place to meet in person, for other times, we devise unique and innovative ways of having fun times together as a team.

Once we decided that everybody is going to cook cauliflower in their own way. We then presented our recipes through pictures and stories during our team meeting. Another time, we were all given some amount of money to spend in whichever way we want during the weekend. We then presented what we did to the rest of the team. Somebody went for a spa, someone took their friends out for dinner, someone surprised his wife with a gift, and so on.

Sometimes, we also plan virtual coffee breaks with one another, where we share our work frustrations and even small things from our personal lives. My colleague from Paris shares my love for travel and on relatively lighter days our work meetings invariably start or end with discussing places of interest in our respective countries and even sharing google pictures and YouTube videos. All such things has served to bring us close to each other.

All said and done, I do miss having co-located work mates because technology cannot substitute the feeling of physical presence. However awesome technology may be, it cannot replicate the feeling of a warm hug or a gentle handshake. It cannot reproduce the camaraderie of sitting across a table and sharing a coffee or lunch together.

Luckily for me, there is another team in Bangalore office whose work is almost similar as mine. I go to office at intervals just to be with them and also attend most of their team events. This alleviates the need of co-located work mates for now. And, I get to enjoy best of the two worlds – virtual and real – as long as it lasts.

Post in response to Day-4 prompt'Four Corners of the World' for Bar-A-Thon: The Blogging Marathon

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

30 thoughts on “Around the World but Together”

  1. I have worked nearly 30 years in an international context with communication methids you will for sure not know any more like letters, telegramm or telex, then telefax was a big progress, afterwards email did follow, etc. pp. Personal contacts and meetings are however sometimes essential for realizing the other, may it be a colleague or cluent makes no big difference. The virtual world of nowadays is a quite artificial matter, well it is practical, but you can not touch a digital message or pin it to your wall like a postcard. So take care of not getting lost in the virtual mazes. @ Ulli

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with you on that and have also mentioned that technology can never replace the the warmth of in-person contact. It’s easy to pretend as subtle feelings are not captured and that makes the virtual world artificial as you rightly mentioned. I thought the virtual workplace is a thing of present times. Quite amazed to know that you have also done the same even before digitization of everything around. And thank you for the advice, I need to be cautious of not getting lost in the virtual maze. Thank you so much, Ulli for reading and leaving behind your thoughts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There has been intercontinental trade for long time, and all this worked somehow also without internet & digital help. For example goods haven being sold worldwide: tea from India, porcellaine from old China, spices from far away Asian islands, a.s.o. But less people were living on our planet these days what makes a great difference. Bye, bye

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow – that sounds like a really wonderful team. I work from home with a team with some from Bangalore, Ireland, the US, and Belgium. I’ve got colleagues I also work with from Montreal. We don’t have nearly as much fun as you guys do. The shared cooking and coffee breaks are brilliant and I’m a little jealous. We’re almost all business.

    I’ve met many of our team in Bangalore and had a great time with them. I’ll be back there to see some of them when Sage and I go there again in January. I’m looking forward to it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We just try to find ways to be more like in-person team members. I also love these innovative ideas that come up in our team. Perhaps ours is not a very big team and so we can manage to do all that. I hope you have tonnes of fun with your colleagues while in Bangalore. I would love to meet you too!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely – we’re likely to be there for about a week and I’m not working (Sage will be teaching some storytelling workshops, doing some improv performances and telling some stories while she’s there). Let’s see if we can meet at some point while we’re there for sure!

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  3. This sounds so interesting, Neelanjana. I can imagine how fulfilling this must be for you because it shows in your post. Loved how aptly you used the prompt to bring us your story. I guess virtual working is definitely the way forward and I wish your time with your colleagues, working, learning, sharing and interacting. Look forward to more such snippets from your life.
    Visiting from #Barathon:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Virtual working is indeed the future of work. But it does have its share of disadvantages as well, which I haven’t covered much in this post quite on purpose. Thanks a ton for visiting and leaving behind your thoughts. Also, thank you for the link to your story, I will surely look up.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked your use of the prompt. Wonder why it never struck me as I have been working with colleagues across the globe for 10 years now in my role at an Investment Bank. In my case I think time zones especially AMER and EMEA are a disadvantage as we tend to have meetings in the later part of the day and it may not always work to our advantage. I loved my 7 years where I had HK colleagues as starting my day at 7.30 am meant I got the whole evening to myself. As we grow more senior in an organisation, often the conversations with real people decline so at this point in my career I find myself talking more to people virtually than real ones and it feels good for distance doesn’t really define relationships

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Akshata, first of all thank you for visiting and reading my post. I can totally understand the pain of AMER and EMEA, though the latter is better. In my case it works as I have the flexibility of time. So on days that I have late evening calls, I start late or take a break sometime during the day. Though I am fine working with virtual colleagues and it works very well but I would love to have a few co-located colleagues too. I fact I would love to have the flexibility as well as a few colleagues around me. You cannot have everything though….sigh!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Quite a nice piece of self-help writing. The pros and cons neatly laid out, as well as how to manage, in a team with remotely located members. Your situation has its cons as well but you can’t really help it, so it’s nice to read how you’ve learnt to adjust.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s great to have both a home team and an away team, so to say. My work involves both kinds. No matter how closely you work with the away team, you cannot have lunch with them. Unless, of course, you travel now and then.

    And then, of course, you can blog those experiences 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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