Struve is a Senior Site Reliability Engineer at Netflix and runs a team across eight timezones from Thailand to Denver. She had some very tactical advice for any manager looking to put in place new processes to help their distributed team work together, successfully and inclusively.
Her approach is based around three core strategies: Async Standups, Rotating Meeting Schedules, and Setting Async Work Expectations.
If you’re distributed across eight timezones (or even much less!) finding a time for a weekly standup meeting which works for everyone is almost impossible. Yet sharing that context about what everyone’s working on for the week remains invaluable. So what to do?
Struve’s standups aren’t meetings at all, they’re a blog post.
Every Sunday evening she creates an internal post of relevant team updates. Team members can then view the document and leave comments if they have anything else to add. There is also a dedicated section for team members to introduce their own topics, and praise colleagues for their work.
Everyone stays updated, just like a standup meeting, and everyone is always included. As an example of inclusion, even the date format specifically references the month in full rather than using US formatting (July vs 07) so it’s clear to everyone.
Although async docs work well for standups, teams need facetime to help them bond and build relationships. Rotating schedules, where several meetings of the same type happen at different times over a period of several weeks, are key to doing that in an inclusive way,
She arranges two types of meetings this way.
Setting specific norms for your team can be very powerful in creating inclusive habits which foster distributed teamwork. Struve mentions three that have worked for her:
There may be other norms you could put in place for your teams based on your pattern of work.