An idealized view?
Distance leads to some inevitable obstacles—time zones, bad video calls, etc. But I think what makes remote-office connectedness so hard has more to do with what people think they are missing, rather than what they are actually missing.
For example, I’ve noticed that people in our remote offices sometimes have an idealized picture of our German headquarters. They imagine it as a place where everyone is connected and communication runs smoothly at all times: “If I were in the main office, I could just walk over to the development team or the design team or the mobile team and get them to take care of my request!” In the other direction, the German teams sometimes assume that the remote office is doing things without telling them.
Reality is much different. As much as I love our Jimdo headquarters, we are not perfect. People in the same office can still feel disconnected and have difficulties communicating with other teams. If anything, I’ve seen people in remote offices get faster responses than they otherwise would, because the home staff feels bad for them being so far away. And remote office teams aren’t trying to be secretive—they just might not know who to reach out to or include from headquarters. It’s tempting to think that if we were all together, everything would run smoothly. But I don’t think that’s the case.
Learning to deal with fear-of-missing-out
So as one of the main points of contact for our remote offices, I’ve learned to expect this fear-of-missing-out and not take it too seriously when it arises. Obviously I have sympathy for the people experiencing it, but I try not to overreact.
I also try to remind people in the remote offices of some of the benefits they enjoy being many miles away. Sure, being at headquarters has advantages (like the delicious lunch we get), but international offices have way more freedom, and they are small enough to get to go out to lunch or drinks all together (something we are too big to do as an office in Germany).
So while you can work to build relationships and improve the quality of video calls, the fear-of-missing-out isn’t something that you can necessarily solve. It’s just something that you can learn to recognize. And when you see it, know that it’s not necessarily a sign of poor communication or internal strife. It’s a natural part of having offices around the world.
Co-founder at Jimdo
When Christian was 12, he started his first business, buying and selling Kinder Surprise collectible toys at flea markets. Just a few years later he met up with Fridtjof, and the two started creating websites for small businesses in their hometown. Christian currently takes care of Jimdo's operations and helped start the U.S. office in San Francisco.