I've worked with a remote team for three months. They all sit in a different company office while I sit in the HQ. There are development teams in the HQ but I have no work interaction with them, they are just neighbors in the same office.
After the three months, I am a little disillusioned with the whole concept of remote work. I completely agree with the Yahoo! CEO. Not that I work from home but I do work remotely and my office presence is merely a formality. After the last three months, I have realized that working remotely can work out only in non-collaborative environments where the management carefully dissects work into atomic units assigned to workers (definitely not us). I do understand that theoretically collaboration is possible remotely but in practice the lack of physical presence is all but an insurmountable obstacle to say the least.
Not that I have not made improvement and learned the product and made enhancements but I feel the lack of teamwork and physical presence is overwhelming and I feel like I am trying to walk through really deep snow. During the initial months, I think it is critical to have physical presence of mentors who know the product and environment so that you can just walk over to them and ask them questions or they can sit by your laptop physically and explain things. I have been deprived of all that and most of the learning has been the hard way, mostly on my own because I find it easier than writing emails to ask them questions. The ideal would be to just walk over and ask.
Now that I am actually up to speed the hard way, another impediment is that I have no clue what the rest of the team is doing and where I fit in the big picture. We have daily huddle meetings but I cannot understand what the rest of them are saying over the phone when they are speaking on the speaker phone, which I only hear as mumbling. So I feel very isolated.
I really like the people who are in my HQ office and how their teamwork is organized. They heavily interact with one another, XP style. Their teamwork and collaboration is fantastic. I want to be a part of that as opposed to my current work setup. However, the product they work on is entirely different from the one I've worked on with my team so my training time so far would largely go to waste and I would have to do it all over again. So my questions are:
Who should I go talk to? My immediate remote managers from whom I wish to part ways over this logistical nightmare? Or his boss's boss who sits in the HQ down the isle from me? Or maybe HR?
How do I tell them that it would be better for the going forward basis for me to work with a team in physical presence and de facto trash the training I and they have invested in over the past three months? My actual work contribution (code checked in) as a result of that (mostly self) training so far does not pull its own weight yet.
I do like most people from my remote team, including the boss. What I dislike is their physical absence. How do I explain my position while not incriminating my immediate management for not making my remote setup work out better? I do not think it is so much their fault, I think working remotely is simply not a viable model for how this team is organized.