Global Teams, Distant Days: Being On a Remote Project

I was pretty excited to get on a project quickly after I joined IBM. Within the first week, I had an interview and I was getting set up to work remotely for four months on an internal project, revising IBM’s Cloud business strategy. Given IBM’s current attempt to change its business strategy, this type of project has been a pretty exciting experience and I ended up learning a lot about how IBM sells its business and where IBM’s leadership sees its company going.

On a high level, this project was intellectually fascinating. IBM, like many other tech companies, must continuously reinvent itself to keep up with the brisk pace of tech development but, at the same time, IBM also has to retain its 100-year-old and well-established legacy. As a result, IBM differs from small tech start ups and must employ unique methods to address these challenges. Being a part of the Cloud Business Solutions, which works with the sales teams, researchers and IOT leaders, has shown me IBM’s brilliance in solving these issues. Whether talking to a seller in Netherlands or a lead in Japan, I understood the cohesion of IBM’s teams behind one mission: innovation. Hence, working in that environment, albeit only seldom interacting with others on my team face to face, gave me a great sense of work satisfaction and fulfillment.

On a day to day basis, however, the challenges were more social than intellectual. While I certainly enjoyed this project for the reasons explained above, I found it to be difficult to be so far away from my team that is works in various locations around the globe. In this aspect, my teammates were wonderful in being communicative and building up the sense of teamwork and cohesion as much as possible. Thus, although difficult at first, I quickly got used to my role on this project and found ways to compensate for the initial challenges. For example, I used the flexibility of staying at home to split my day into blocks: I would wake up at 7, work for 2 hours, go for a run, work for another 4 hours, bake cookies, work for another 2 hours, make dinner, take a late evening phone call, go to a yoga class, talk to a team member in India or China, sleep. This sort of schedule did not feel natural at first but I found that my flexibility and willingness to adjust to the different needs of a global team actually allowed me to find a better work/life balance. In the end, working on a remote project has been a positive experience overall and I learned not only a lot about IBM but also about my own ability to alter my routine to be more efficient at work and more relaxed in my personal life.

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Zuzana

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