I have read a blog post about feeling left out on the Aha!’s blog and a lot of old memories came into my mind that I have to write out.
About 4 years ago I was working with a centralized team and nobody was prepared to that. Not them or I. After I went through on almost all of the cases in that post I have changed a lot. And after that, I was able to turn these disadvantages into benefits. That is what this post about.
Feeling left out
The team was working together in the same open space for years. And suddenly I came into the picture. My experience is the same as in the referenced post: usually, they just simply forgot me at all. They haven’t even thought about me. Actually, nobody cared about the lonely man far away.
Sometimes they even forgot to tell the decisions after they made. So not only I couldn’t participate but had less amount of information than the others.
Work more than ever
That situation was very frustrating during the first several months. After this struggle, I made the following decision: Fuck that!. I cannot really force others to take care of me or count me as a person. But I can improve myself. I can solve the most amount of ticket, answer on the largest portion of live issues and get the deeper knowledge on the part of the system that I work on.
After several months of hard work, their attitude started to change. Actually, I think, I become a person who hard to ignore. And believe me, if a team needs some help, they do everything that needs to get that.
And get the results
My hard work got a great result: At the end of the year, I had to take care on one of the new hires (who was working in the same place as the others) and I had to do some ‘technology lead’ like role in a big project (in that time I was the only remote worker on the team).
When you work in the same place as the others and you have a question, you have a lot of information: first of all, you just see if your teammate is at his desk or not. Secondly, it is a way harder to not to answer you. If you write a message, there is no guarantee that you’ll get an answer at all.
That is also a topic that you cannot change. I cannot jump into my car at every single question, drive 2 hours and ask the person directly – usually, I have to wait. To solve that problem, I had two strategies:
More tasks – gain benefit on the wait time:
I always keep more than one todo item on my list. And prepare the case when somebody doesn’t answer. You cannot just sit at your desk and get blocked because you are not the top priority on some others job. But you can work on one of the other tasks or learn something new that makes you smarter.
Don’t let you left out – action plan to reach out people
I have collected as many private phone numbers as it possible. And also made an agreement with one person in the team: if I cannot reach somebody and it is really urgent, I can call him directly and he speaks with the person to please answer me. In that way, I had an emergency method.
That is the only point that I was lucky with. We were living the same timezone so there was no question about that.
My current team is an opponent with that one. Now we have to work together with the other team and we have 9 hours of time zone differences. That basically means, there is no common time window for us and we are facing a lot of challenges.
I could lie if I would tell that I know the best answer – I think that is something that we still need to work on but we are improving day by day.
I couldn’t call that technical but simply disrespect. There is nothing more frustrating than being part of a meeting and missing the main information just because the others are using whiteboard just because it is comfortable for them.
I have to tell, in that case, I have only a small amount of patience. After I ask a team several times to please not do that because in that case, there is no reason to me to be involved in the meeting, I just say goodbye and ask a meeting memo. After that, I can work on the next important thing and wait for the meeting memo.
In the case if the topic is urgent, I’m sure, there will be some solution. In the worst case, I can ask the team to read the whole whiteboard to me. Or they can take a picture for me in every five minutes to get updated but these are not solutions.
I think maybe the best solution is just asking to be the presenter and do the job that nobody wants. And drawing the diagrams online (prefer to use a company wiki just to keep the information searchable).
Working remotely with a centralized team is really hard and needs a lot of patience and I bet every single person who had to try that, lost his calm blood at some point.
My closing thought is that: yes, it is really hard when you feel left out, but there is your choice how you will respond to that. You can sad or you can make the best of the situation – It depends only on you!