Klook is indeed a Global team. Our HQ is based in Hong Kong, but we have people in 15 different offices including Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India (SEA), and everywhere you can think of around the world.
Having 7 Countries under my wing might not be too many, but it isn’t an easy feat. Imagine visiting one location a week; that takes you almost 2 months to cover a full cycle. Sustainable? I kid you not.
This means that everyone needs to constantly improve and adjust a system or processes that works for you. I am no expert, but here are my learning points that might help for those who are either considering regional roles, or add on to your existing management skills.
1. Communicate Deliberately
Communication plays a vital role in regional work, and when team members are apart, it’s vital to put communication at the center. It’s harder for regional work because you just can't appear in front of a co-worker for a quick question. Instead, enough questions at the outset of things to make sure we’re all on the same page about what needs to get done. If you don’t then people can lose track of where the direction is, where projects are, and lose their own focus. It's important that you take time to communicate thoughtfully. Even if you feel silly using them, emoticons can help express your tone in online communication. SLACK is our primary mode of communication @ Klook, as it is for a growing number companies. With the ability to set up different channels for different teams, we constantly communicate anything that the team needs to know, real time, every time.
TIP: Update, update, update, so that everyone who needs to be in the loop, stays informed. Make sure you’re in sync with everyone you work with. Since you won’t see anyone outside of your physical location, you have to make a conscious effort to be involved and keep them involved.
2. Speak to your team
Nothing beats being in the same office. It makes resolving issues so much easier and faster. Take advantage of the times you do get to talk to people “face-to-face” wherever possible, or via video meetings - you can usually get more information from them that way than through an email or by chatting. Being in a regional role immediately make you rethink if you took physical communication for granted.
When communicating, don’t just type, TALK. Sometimes you need face time communication to get ideas across quickly.
TIP: Understand the team's golden hour - With team members spread all over the region, getting everyone online and around at the same time alone can be a challenge. Do video calls - If you’ll never have a chance to meet team members frequently in person, it’s important to get to know them personally. Video call is the best way. ZOOM is another powerful communication tool we exploit @ Klook that is geared more towards full video-conferencing capabilities. Participants can join in wherever they want, chatting to the whole team and seeing what’s happening.
3. Communicate about nothing
When you’re in an office, most conversation involves talking about nothing. Sports, movies, anything but work. This is just a natural part of human behavior. But when you’re working away from the crowd, it can feel like you shouldn’t bother with any communication that isn’t work-related and vital. While it’s true you shouldn’t become one of those people creating email/chat noise, you still want to create a team mentality online, and that includes just talking about things other than work.
TIP: Be the one to start a conversation. Start by saying Hi, and then let the conversation flow. Do stay professional with each conversation, though. You don't want conversations to go out of hand.
1. Be very organized
Set schedules and deadlines for yourself, and make sure you can meet them without having someone there to tell you what to do. Try to schedule any meetings and interviews close together so you can have larger chunks of uninterrupted time to work on things. This helps you be more productive because you don’t want to start something just to stop in the middle of it for a meeting, then try to start it back up again. Prioritize your tasks. It isn’t enough to know what you have to do - you need to determine which tasks have the highest urgency and closest due dates. Doing this helps you stay on top of my responsibilities, instead of feeling overwhelmed because of the urgent things you need to take care of in a short amount of time.
2. Ask for quiet time
So far, all these tips have been about talking to your co-workers, but sometimes you need quiet time to really get on with work. In an office environment, you might shut a door, or just put your headphones in and it would be obvious to the rest of the team that you need focus. But when you’re remote, you need to explicit tell them the best time to interrupt you.
Don’t be afraid to protect your time, as others won’t.
TIP: Do Not Disturb. If you’re using Slack, then you can set yourself away or /dnd for an hour. This will tell the rest of your team that you aren’t around and your team will quickly learn when you can be disturbed and when not, and adjust their communication accordingly. Come back to work feeling ready to get back to it, and it helps you clear your head. Break up your day and try not to skip or eat lunch while you work. Simple restroom or coffee runs break the day up so the day actually feels alot shorter and easier to go through.
3. Set your hours
When there is no obvious divide between home and work, the two can blend together. If you're still green on Slack then your team can presume you're available, even when you’re at the dinner table with your family.
Setting explicit office hours, and keeping to them, allows you to immediately divide home life from work life each day, and lets your team know when you’re available and when you’re not, no matter what your icon might say. I’ve found it especially helpful to do the projects that require the most focus on weekday nights (like now), and Saturday afternoons when I have time to myself.
TIP: Plan your week early. Setting regular work hours actually gives me more freedom to spend time with my family. Those established hours for productivity let me plan my week and tasks accordingly so I minimise time wastage.
FIND THAT BALANCE
Balance is not something you find, it's something you Create.
Everyone procrastinates. Whether they are in an office with everyone else, or working remotely, sometimes you’re just not 100% focused and productive. Having mental downtime during the day is fine, as long as they don’t end up taking over too much of your time. But this problem is amplified with remote regional reporting working as it requires natural motivation so you have to continue looking to adapt, thrive and be successful.