Can We Make "Distance Matter" Less?

Geographically distributed teams are increasingly common, yet present several challenges when compared to collocated teams -- or as Judy and Gary Olson famously observed, "distance matters." Our studies of collocated and distributed software development teams have revealed challenges in four key activities: communication in planned meetings, ad-hoc conversations, staying aware of teammates and their work, and building trust relationships between teammates. I will present observations of how collocated teammates do each of these activities, the special problems faced by remote teammates, and how remote teammates mitigate these challenges. I will identify several opportunities where new tools could make the remote experience more like -- or even better than -- the collocated experience, and go into detail on one potential design.

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