As you can guess, working from home is a bit of stretch sometimes as you try to create a schedule that works uniquely for you during this momentous time of routine.
While having an aesthetically pleasing work environment at home can motivate you and make all the difference, there are still hurdles one will inevitably face when working remotely with an international partner. My biggest one yet being the time differences!
Some tips I have picked up so far:
- Finding a mode of communication that works for all those involved – I discovered that WhatsApp is the quickest way to keep in contact with my partners. However, myself and my colleagues, Dora Parkinson and Jasmine Wen, supplement this with the occasional emails that we attach important documents too and zoom calls to work out some problems “face-to-face”. Having a communication line in place for direct messaging can especially be useful in urgent situations to remind someone to respond to an email.
- The way of life in countries differs. While those of us in North America, myself included, schedule our lives in advance using agendas and google calendar reminders due to an individualistic approach to life, those in countries, such as Tanzania, have a more relaxed approach to timekeeping due to group solidarity (i.e. the term Ubuntu). The African sense of happiness is deep-rooted in a sense of community, therefore a group reliance on each other and a less rigorously scheduled way of life. Due to these differences, I find it useful to send reminders to international partners about meetings a day before, leading to a greater sense of group mentality. It also just helps in any group dynamic in the case that the meeting slipped the mind of anyone involved!
- Know what time works best – In my case, there is a 7 hour time difference. As such, it is important to be aware of what time works best to connect with one another. For instance, all our zoom meeting calls are scheduled within a specific window of time (i.e. between 8am-12pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) which is between 3pm-7pm EAT (East Africa Time)). This works best for us since some of our partners in Tanzania work in a school or go to school earlier on in the day.
Following these tips has worked great for me and I hope they work for you just the same if you are in a similar situation during this pandemic.
Stay tuned for my next post if you are curious about what a day in my life looks like as a remote intern!