Working Across Time Zones: Pros, Cons, and Best Practices

Expecting someone to understand what you meant with little clarification can lead to misunderstanding, and in the worst-case scenario, a day of wasted work. Engineering teams, in particular, require different types of meetings along various stages. At the same time, whenever you’re in a meeting you’re technically not getting any focused work done. In a public Slack channel, praising people who oppose efforts encourages one of our culture pillars of being challenged. Setting up the necessary structures and tools to constantly reinforce culturally acceptable norms is a major step in the right direction that many businesses ignore.

How do you keep two time zones?

Right click the time and date, in the bottom right corner and select Adjust Date and Time. 2. On the right side of the Date & Time screen, select the Add clocks for different time zones option under Related settings.

If you want to learn more about team agreements, then go back to episode number 42. One of the items in the team agreement is to always talk in one time zone. So pick one time zone and then just have the entire team talk in that time zone. Being able to select the best talent regardless of the location is one of the main factors that impacted the entire movement in the first place. When communicating with a team member who lives in a different time zone, always ask yourself if they have enough information, clarity, and access to do their work.

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Explain that you have a particular schedule in order to function as productively as possible, and your available hours for meetings are X, Y and Z. For more on making meetings as productive as possible, see our guide to managing meetings when working remotely. In this day and age with working remotely while traveling, it’s less clear than ever before as to where someone is physically located and what time it is near them at a certain moment. Embrace the challenge and take advantage of the opportunities that remote work has to offer, and you’ll be well on your way to building a successful career that spans the globe. This might mean taking breaks throughout the day to stretch, meditate, or exercise, and setting aside time for hobbies and other non-work related activities. Finally, another important aspect is establishing a dedicated workspace and avoiding working from your bed or couch.

The pressure of seizing a time zone overlap too short for any meetings with counterparts. And sometimes a deep breath before opening up work applications in the morning and seeing countless unread messages from a timezone that works when you are asleep. This may involve rescheduling some meetings to avoid overlap with obligations that are already on your calendar. For freelancers and anyone working remotely, there are many challenges for working with clients or coworkers in different time zones.

Instead of communicating, send an email

This is probably the most obvious challenge of working across multiple time zones, and rightfully so. It can get overwhelming trying to set up a time that works for the entire team. When you don’t need to consider time zones, you can attract and hire the best talent regardless of location. This is a massive benefit, even if you are located in a hub like San Francisco or New York, chances are the best person for the job doesn’t live within commuting distance of your office. Relationships foster trust, increase collaboration and boost productivity in any work environment.

  • There’s no room to ask clarifying questions and you don’t have the luxury of reading a person’s facial expressions or tone of voice.
  • When referring to a specific time, everyone reading your message needs to be aware of it.
  • Instead of settling for local talent, remote workers give your company access to the best people in the world no matter where they are located.
  • Time zones are geographical locations where people experience similar daylight hours at any given time throughout the year.
  • We created this blog to share some of the knowledge and experience that we have around travel, remote work, photography and beyond!

There are a lot of different scenarios that we could play out here, but the thing to keep in mind is try organizing your team so that it’s less painful. When we work with people from across the globe, we often have to work at unusual times. We have to work odd hours if we want to interact with our colleagues on the other side of the world.

Be transparent about where you’re located

As questions arise, figure out a mutually agreeable time to meet and discuss specific issues. If you’ve been working the same shift throughout your career, take this chance to overhaul your routine. For instance, you could do your chores and workouts earlier in the day.

Download our leadership guide about how to manage remote employees. Hours are flexible, work locations are far and wide, and meetings need to be virtual. In fact, a single meeting might consist of employees from three or four countries – all with different time zones and schedules. Your colleagues might sometimes forget the time zone difference, so you might need to remind them every now and then.

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This can be through phone calls, video chats or even using an instant messaging platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams. There’s no need to wait for a conference call or meeting to start talking when you work together from the same office. But when working with a distributed team, communicating takes more effort. Managing different time zones, language barriers, and cultural differences can be frustrating. That way, the team member in Dublin doesn’t have a late meeting every week, and the team member in New York City doesn’t have an early meeting every week.

  • Don’t forget that just because meetings are in a different time zone doesn’t mean your distributed employees shouldn’t get the same perks as employees in HQ.
  • Being able to select the best talent regardless of the location is one of the main factors that impacted the entire movement in the first place.
  • More surprisingly, only 2% of the respondents operate in a single timezone.
  • Sometimes they might be overused for matters that teams can discuss and align asynchronously.
  • When it comes to the challenges of working in different time zones, team task management promotes collaboration between teams without expecting either of them to work solely antisocial hours.

Although collaborating with global professionals promotes career growth, it also requires you to follow hectic schedules. Hosting virtual weekly “happy hours,” icebreakers, or games can help distributed teams proactively build personal connections. You can even host clubs around specific interests and encourage team members to join. Navigating different time zones requires a certain amount of give-and-take from all parties involved. Set out that expectation early and work hard to ensure that early mornings and late nights are distributed equally between teams.

Improve your asynchronous communication

We don’t think people purposely fail to prepare for meetings, but they do not have the tools and processes in place to become effective at preparing for those meetings. Also, keep track of countries that observe daylight saving time (DST). People who use DST turn their clocks ahead by an hour during summertime to save electricity. Even reviewing sales pitches or business proposals could waste several days if the parties take hours to reply. PEOs are available to assist with every aspect of acquiring and managing a remote workforce. For employees, remote work can result in boosted productivity, a healthier work-life balance, and significant cost savings.

What is the best way to work across time zones?

  1. Communicate clearly about timezone boundaries with your team.
  2. Get specific when discussing dates and times with peers.
  3. Be mindful of other teammates' designated work hours.
  4. Test out split shifts or workdays that cater to different timezones.

The social disconnect can breed various productivity and personal obstacles that could wreak havoc on your organization over time. Another key feature of such team chat apps is the pin option as it helps keep the important documents top of mind and easily accessible. Managers and decision-makers are the ones facing the harshest challenges when working with teams who operate across time zones. Along with aligning operations, other risks could seriously disrupt major processes, if left unchecked. Let’s get a better insight into the challenges of globally distributed teams to get a clearer idea of what to look out for and how to prevent any larger issues.

Leverage tools to help with time zone management

Notion, Confluence, and even Google Drive can all be used to document best practices and processes on an internal wiki. Make sure not to mix up AM and PM times or use roman numerals when writing in a foreign language. Despite sounding like a small detail, this can cause confusion and unnecessary stress. You are responsible for sharing any changes in your schedule, whether you are switching shifts or clocking out early.

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