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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

As a technical communicator, working in a distributed team with teammates scattered across the globe, can be a challenge. What do you do to improve collaboration when your colleagues work in different time zones, and you can’t pop around for a quick chat? We’ve talked to a host of colleagues who work in global teams and asked them for their tips and tricks for dealing with the challenge of distributed work. Here’s what we got back.



  1. Whenever possible, make sure to be included in projects from the start rather than coming in later. This gives you time to develop relationships with team members before situations get stressful towards the end of the project. This tip is good for every project but especially in cases where you aren’t face-to-face with your colleagues.
  2. Arrange a regular meeting/call with your contacts – once a week, for example. Your initial kickoff call should be one where you can speak to each other and set expectations.
  3. Agree on the tools you intend to use to communicate. For example, you might choose Microsoft Teams, email, or forum threads.
  4. Make sure that the contact understands their roles and responsibilities regarding documentation: providing raw content, reviews, final sign off. Also remind them of the timing for these responsibilities…you cannot guarantee deliverables if the reviews or content is late. Signal a blocker ASAP by using your chosen project management tool.
  5. Agree on additional trusted data sources that can be used, for example, technical specifications, approved user interfaces, or requirements documents.
  6. Create a central point of entry for all work and for recording decisions. For example, a wiki, a MS Teams Space, a Slack space, or Microsoft One Note.
  7. Plan deliverables in detail for every release. Use JIRA and similar tools to ensure that UA deliverables are not forgotten. For example, use JIRA to create a task list that requires a task to be checked off to move to the next task. Assign tasks and due dates for deliverables like providing content, reviewing, and so on.
  8. Plan buffers for deadlines (if possible) in case of issues. For example, a two-week buffer usually gives enough time to deal with unexpected events.
  9. Use a tracker for deliverables, so everyone knows the big-picture status at a glance. Even with JIRA tracking in place, an additional visual aid can be useful. List the deliverable, responsible SMEs, and due date for all milestones, including 1st draft, review, 2nd draft, and so on. Lastly, share it on the team workspace.
  10. If you can’t attend scrum meetings due to the timing, send written reports to the scrum master or project lead to share in the meetings. Highlight any blockers or other communication issues in the reports. Ask that scrum meetings be recorded and review them to make sure you are getting all the information shared by the team.
  11. Ask that any feature demos be recorded and review them ASAP. If possible, ask for a demo at a time when you can attend, so you can ask questions live and collect the specific info you need. Be sure to record it for future reference (this can be a life saver).
  12. Ask for access to the application in the test or development environment so you can write the content more easily while seeing how the function works. You might, for example, even get involved in testing if time permits.
  13. Ensure that vacations/time off are clearly documented beforehand. Arrange substitutes for vacations/illness on both sides in advance when possible.


So, there you have it: our thirteen ideas for working in a global team. How about you? What tips do you have? Are we missing something that makes your globally distributed work life easier? Let us know in the comments!


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