Sunday, June 13, 2010

2nd Class Citizens

Having worked in India for nearly a decade now, as part of distributed teams where the project is based either in the United States or the United Kingdom, I've just usually gotten the impression that the team in India is treated as 2nd class citizens.

One of the issues is communication. On a day to day basis, those of us in India are expected to inform the team in the "home" office what we're doing, what our status is, what our progress is and when we have holidays, etc. On the other hand, those in the "home" office don't. In India we're left to guess what's going on in the "home" office and are frequently surprised when they have a holiday and don't show up to work, since they never sent a team-wide mail saying "the office will be closed...".

Then, when it comes to meetings there's a huge difference. Whenever the team begins to be distributed the Indian team is told over and over about the importance of showing up to meetings (i.e. phone conference, video conferences, instant message chats, etc.) on time, as Indians have a reputation for not being punctual. And each time we're even a little bit late in India we're reminded of it.

However, it's the team in the "home" office that's more consistently late, at both companies where I've worked. The meetings are almost always in the afternoon, evening, or even late night, in India, and mornings in the U.S. or U.K. and those in the "home" office complain about how hard it is getting to work in time for the meeting, and it's even worse when there's snow or ice in those places.

The worst was at my previous company where our engineering manager worked from her home office in Alaska, and let us know that she was sorry about being consistently late, 7am was just too early for her to get up, get her coffee and get to meetings.

For other aspects, most of the teams' servers are always at the "home" office, the source repository, document servers, program installation directories, QA servers, email server and so forth. Even if there's a lot more people on the team in India, it can be a bit more inconvenient for us to access all of them, and a lot slower.

Some of it makes sense, since the "home" office is closer to where the customers are, and where the people who have the most experience with the customers' needs are. But some of it could run a lot smoother with more respect for the team in India.

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