So Long Bob

March 11, 2010

This post is part of the Editorial Calendar Plugin for WordPress team series. We take a first-hand look at a far-flung open source team as it forms, communicates, resolves problems, and (hopefully) succeeds. Stay up to date with the whole series.

So we’ve decided to stop working with Bob.

Nothing really went wrong, but not enough went right. I knew we were in trouble when I started wondering what he was doing. Waiting is fine, but waiting in the dark isn’t. Leaving the rest of your team wondering what you’re up to is the opposite of making it easy to give you an A.

Everyone drops offline from time to time, the key is status. If Bob had set our expectations it would have felt OK. Instead he just disappeared. We’re not even sure it he did any work.

I feel a little bad about it. I never met Bob face-to-face or even saw a picture of him. I know he was young, male, and worked in high-tech. If I saw him on the street I’d have no idea. He was nice enough on the phone, but we only talked a few times.

This is the strange nature of the teleworker relationship. You try to build trust and make yourself into a real person, but in the end you’ll never build a deep relationship in a couple of weeks.

I’ve made some close friends work remotely —people who stayed friends after we stopped working together— but most of them are just cordial relationships. Most people just go on a different road. Teleworking is an isolating process.

We’ll move on and bring in some new people. Next up, introducing the new team members.

The picture in this article was taken by natej and is used in accordance with the CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

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