It can be difficult to keep track of time zones. Even though we have tried to create new time zones, it is still difficult to agree on a universal system.
It’s not usually a problem, as everyone is familiar with their time zone. In the United States, for example, there is a three-hour difference between East and West. Easy, right?
What if your remote team is spread around the globe?
It can be difficult to track time when you have colleagues in India and Portugal. It can be difficult for team members to work together in an asynchronous environment. This can also make it more difficult for them to adapt. Scheduling meetings can also be problematic, making it difficult for those who must attend, especially in the mornings or the evenings.
It is obvious that when you work with colleagues in different time zones, it can be difficult to find a time for a meeting.
From a business perspective, however, it’s hard to argue against the possibility of operating in multiple time zones. Despite the difficulties, the benefits far outweigh any disadvantages. You have access to a wider and more diverse range of skills and talent. You can also work around the clock.
Top 10 Time Management Tips When Working in Different Time Zones
These challenges can be overcome with the right tools.
1. Notify third parties about your location immediately.
It is important to let others know your time zone immediately. When introducing yourself, Let your colleagues know about your schedule and preferred communication channels. This is a great opportunity to establish boundaries. Consider a situation where you are able to contact someone even though you are not available.
Are you having trouble communicating your schedule effectively? You might consider sharing your online schedule with your colleagues.
You could also drop your calendar link in your online profile. Why? Avoid misunderstandings by making sure your office hours are visible in your email signature and work chat profile, LinkedIn profile, and Google profile.
Don’t forget about updating them when necessary. You are responsible to share any changes in your schedule whether you’re switching shifts or getting up early.
Also read: Top 10 Time Tracking Apps For Remote Workers
2. Clearly communicate time zone boundaries.
It is important to communicate clearly with your employees about their preferred work hours. You also need to set boundaries with teams that they work with, no matter where they are located. A shared team calendar can be useful as everyone can see the availability of each other.
Managers should also plan meetings around their employees’ work hours. Make sure everyone on your team can find times that work. You must not allow your scattered team members to jump on a call at 7 AM just because it is convenient.
A tool that allows team members to share their work schedules can improve transparency and coordination. Facilitating open discussions about work hours and expectations is the best way to bridge any cultural communication gaps. Encourage employees to schedule lunch breaks, and not check work email or Slack messages after business hours.
3. Fix a reasonable time for the meetings.
It is crucial to establish fair meeting times when working in different time zones. No one wants to wake up at 5 a.m. to check in or stay up later for a meeting at 10.30 p.m., even if that’s not their usual working hours.
When setting up meeting times, remember to consider everyone’s time zone. If there’s no way to ensure everyone is treated equally, what should you do? Rotating the start time is a good idea to avoid annoying the same people over and over again.
4. Understanding the differences between synchronous and unsynchronous communication.
When working in a distributed team, it is important to be able to communicate with each other using sync and async.
Synchronized communication (or sync) allows colleagues to communicate and give feedback in real-time. This can be done via video chats, phone calls, or an instant messaging platform such as Slack and Microsoft Teams.
On the other hand, async communication refers to the sending of information at different times and delaying its delivery. Sending an email to them or leaving a voicemail for them to reply to at their convenience is one example.
Take advantage of async whenever possible.
It is important to be able to communicate simultaneously when working remotely whenever possible. Effective async communication is a way to keep in touch no matter where you are located or what time zone or geography you live in.
Async Communication Tips:
- It is important to clearly state what you want and why. Being upfront will help others know the type of commitment that you are looking for.
- Instead of meeting for information or feedback, send a Loomvideo. People can respond in either text format or upload their Loom videos.
- Invite others to comment on and collaborate with documents like Google Docs.
- Meeting scheduling software such as Doodle or meeting scheduling software can be used to schedule in-person meetings. This will allow you to choose the most convenient time for everyone.
5. Split shifts and workdays are options that can be considered to accommodate different time zones.
Imagine that you are working in one country and half of your team is in another. You might consider working half-days at the office, and then working remotely on one or more days per week either at night or in the morning, Split shifts are often called this. This involves working in your time zone and then working in another time zone.
Split schedules allow you to be more accessible for meetings with colleagues from different time zones, without having to ignore your local team. You will also be able to stay in touch with your international team without having to wake up at night.
What happens if your work schedules don’t align? Instead of working consecutively for the same hours, divide your shift into two.
You could also choose to work for an international team for a few days every week. You could, for example, work on days that are most convenient for the European, Middle Eastern, and African regions (EMEA). You would start work at 6 a.m. You would finish by 3 p.m. To avoid being booked by people from your time zone, simply book a full-day event with the title EMEA hours: 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. EST.
6. Specify dates and times clearly.
Try to be as exact as possible when referring to different time zones within the discussion. Everyone who reads your message should be aware that you are referring to a particular time.
For example, asking “Can we meet next Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. yours?” isn’t as effective as asking “Can we meet next Tuesday at 11:00 EST time?”
A simple timezone converter tool will help everyone understand the differences between times.
When writing in another language, make sure you don’t mix AM and PM hours. This can lead to confusion and stress, even though it may seem like a minor detail.
Bonus tip: Choose the time zone you want to use.
- While it is important to be aware of other time zones, setting one official time zone in your company can reduce confusion.
- Meetings can be set up according to each manager’s time zone. This leaves everyone scrambling for their own time zone. Everyone will communicate and set deadlines using the same time zone regardless of where they are located. Employees can quickly find the time difference between their workplace and their home location by doing this.
Also read: Top 10 Remote Work Tools
7. Set up internal wikis.
Real-time context and information should not be restricted to screen captures and one-off videos. You can use Confluence, Notion, and Google Drive to document your best practices and processes in an internal wiki.
Wikis can be used for more than just documentation. Wikis can also be used to create consensus, share notes and collect feedback. You can create transparency and encourage a continuous flow of ideas and feedback by creating a Wiki.
8. Use an online calendar.
When booking meetings or appointments with remote team members, it is not uncommon to wait for confirmation. If the other party is located on the other side, you will not hear from them until the next day. It might take up to a week for an email exchange to secure an appointment.
This problem is solved by tools such as Google Calendar and Calendar.
For example, Calendar
Calendar searches your connected calendars for available time slots when you need to schedule meetings. You can add or remove times, and choose the length of your meeting. You can also include options for meeting location such as a physical address or phone number.
Once you have set your preferences, you can email meeting attendees your availability. Clicking on a time will allow them to reserve it. Calendar will then add it to their calendar and email the attendees.
9. Avoid micromanagement and set appropriate goals.
Conciliating expectations at work requires working across time zones. Because of the time difference, employees might not receive immediate responses to their questions. Remote colleagues should decide the urgency of each task before they send instant messages or emails. This will help them feel valued and respected. This will make them feel valued at work, less stressed, and more satisfied.
A great way to keep in touch with coworkers is to set up instant messages or emails to arrive at work during working hours. If messages need to be sent prior to or after hours, they can be set up on various communication platforms.
These tools can be given to employees so that they can use them efficiently. This will allow you to bridge any cultural communication gaps and create a more productive work environment.
10. Be aware of cultural norms
It is important to be familiar with the cultural norms, traditions, and customs of remote workers. These cultural differences can cause them to work different hours, have different holidays, or communicate differently.
It is essential to understand cultural differences in order to build a cohesive team.