The challenge with remote work is what happens next

Sticking with the theme of remote work, Steven Sinofsky wrote a great post called Why Remote Engineering Is So Difficult!? There’s a lot of food for thought, but here’s the main issue:

The core challenge with remote work is not how it is defined right here and now. In fact that is often very easy. It usually only takes a single in person meeting to define how things should be split up. Then the collaboration tools can help to nurture the work and project. It is often the case that this work is very successful for the initial run of the project. The challenge is not the short term, but what happens next. […]

If I had to sum up all of these in one challenge, it is that however you find you can divide the work across geography at a point in time, it simply isn’t sustainable. The very model you use to keep work geographically efficient are globally sub-optimal for the evolution of your code. It is a constraint that creates unnecessary tradeoffs.

Projects often start off ok, but then start to unravel as every small miscommunication and missed messages add up to a much bigger problem. I find this stuff fascinating not just because I work at Jive (where we don’t use email at all), but because we’re seeing such an explosion of remote work everywhere as our tools keep getting better and better.

Steph Yiu’s post Still figuring it out: communicating remotely with lots of people is another good one to read, since she walks through all the tools they use to get their work done. Our setup at Jive is very similar, except that we use our own tool where they use P2 (their WordPress intranet theme).