How To Work In Different Time Zones When You're A Remote Team

Published: 23rd August 2022

Working in different time zones isn't something that should be taken lightly, especially if you're on a remote team. You don't want to burn out your employees or cause them stress by having them work all hours of the day and night.

However, with the right mindset, strategies and a little bit of planning, working with people from around the world can be done successfully. 

Here are 4 tips that help make working in different time zones less stressful for you and your team:

Working In Different Time Zones Tip #1 - Choose A Primary Time Zone

The first step you should take is to choose a time zone that fits your team. There are many factors to consider when choosing a time zone, including:

  • Your location and the locations of your customers and employees
  • Your team's culture and personality
  • Your goals for productivity, growth and other business metrics

You should use a primary time zone to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to scheduling meetings, calls, and other important communications, not only with your team but also with your clients and business partners.

Working In Different Time Zones Tip #2 - Respect Everyone's Time

Even with your primary time zone in place, it's important to be aware of everyone's individual time zones and schedules. Some scheduling apps like Google Calendar have the option to display several time zones while scheduling a meeting, which can be helpful.

Another aspect to consider is the personalities in your team. Are some people more relaxed or less flexible? Ask about their availability in advance so nobody winds up disappointed when things don't go as planned. Do you or a team member need to be available for a conference call at a specific time? If so, make sure it's clear that this is the only time you're available e.g. by accepting an invite with the comment “my only time-frame that day”. Otherwise, you could end up with several random requests, or fixed calls from other people who aren't aware of your schedule.

Working In Different Time Zones Tip #3 - Create An Overlap

To ensure there's always someone available to answer questions or respond to urgent topics, you'll want to create an overlap. This is a time when everyone on your team can be online and available to answer questions or discuss topics. 

It should be at least an hour long: anything shorter than that runs the risk of people falling off their regular schedule (which will make them less productive). The best time to create an overlap is in the middle of your day; this will allow for enough "crunch" time before and after so that people get used to working during it over time. Finally, try not to change this schedule often—you want everyone on your team comfortable with how things work so they can stay focused on their work throughout the day.

Working In Different Time Zones Tip #4 - Face-to-face time is important

face to face video call across different time zones

If you're working remotely with a team of people who don't know each other, as well as they, could, then face-to-face time will be important for building trust, empathy and camaraderie. Face-to-face time here does not mean having your camera on necessarily but rather having shared time together. Actually, not having this leads to one of the major downsides of remote work: Loneliness. But there’s also a solution for this problem. You can learn about it in our article “How To Overcome Loneliness And Be Connected With Your Remote Team”. 

In many offices, people get to know one another through daily interactions over coffee or lunch where they can chat about anything (or nothing at all). It's easy to bond over shared experiences when you're all literally in the same space together. Without that opportunity for bonding, remote teams need to find other ways of connecting on a personal level—like taking creating weekly team socials, or making your meetings more engaging.

These seemingly small, yet important gestures will help establish connections between members of your distributed workforce.

Working in different time zones as a remote team has challenges – be aware and address them

Video calling across different time zones

First and foremost: respect everyone's time. It’s important to honour every member's schedule so everyone gets their needs met without feeling like they're giving up too much of themselves. This means that if someone is more productive working at night (while you're asleep), don't expect them to change their schedule just for your convenience or because you think having them awake will help move things along faster during daytime hours. 

If anything, try setting up an overlap between yourself and another member of your team so there are two people available at all times—even though this may mean that one person works longer days than others due to being available at both ends of the day (or night). Face-to-face time is also important when working in different time zones. Try to make the meetings fun and interactive with games and icebreakers

With these strategies in mind, your team will be able to collaborate more effectively—no matter where they are located.

Do you wake up feeling ready to take on the day, or do you need an extra cup of coffee to get started? Shout over to us with a tag on LinkedIn!

Further Resources

Image Credit

  • Unsplash, Giphy, Pexels
Author

Jesse K.

Jesse helps companies working remotely create a social connection by providing trending topics & inspiration via remotenactive.com

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