Working Across Time Zones Can Be Tough Here’s How To Do It Right

You can use time zone abbreviations like EST, UTC, etc., or just clarify if a meeting is ‘my time / your time’. Flexibility has always been a hallmark of successful remote teams.

To successfully utilize key principles of asynchronous communication to their advantage, distributed teams need to prioritize efficient, written communication. When working on a report, for example, globally distributed teammates won’t necessarily have the opportunity to ping a coworker and get the missing info right away. This is why it’s paramount to keep detailed written records of all the processes and projects.

working across multiple time zones

Within Google Calendar, one of my absolute favorite ways to stay productive while working at home or freelancing, you can have your time zone, and a second one. Be mindful of national and local holidays around the world, in addition to world time zones. 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.

Use Tools To Help With Time Zone Management

Working remotely means you don’t have the luxury of calling a quick team standup meeting or walking over to your co-worker’s desk to ask a quick question. However, when done right, remote working across time zones work can actually enhance your team’s collaboration and the overall level of communication. Messaging apps, such as Slack, allow team members to chat and have discussions easily.

Each of those live in Async—an in-house tool that gives everyone a set place to write anything they need to share with the entire team and forces us to “work in public.” No matter how independently you can work, and how hard you try to stay connected, you won’t be in the flow of what everyone’s doing unless you have a team chat tool. “At TechCrunch and The Next Web, having a central point of contact is critical,” says Russell.

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It takes extra effort for remote teams to stay on task without face-to-face communication. In this article, we’ll tackle the biggest struggles for those who have freelance jobs online, or any professional who has been freelancing remotely for years. In working with distributed teams in different time zones, you have to be prepared to be flexible, accommodating and always on top of changing clocks, global holidays and miscalculations.

working across multiple time zones

That might mean you can move to a city where it’s easier to start a family, or extend your “vacation” to a few months on the beach each year. You might even find time to visit some of the incredible cities on Nomad List while still contributing your all to your team. The best Zoom tips and tricks that you can use to master conference call communication. He loves to help other entrepreneurs build startups by sharing his own experiences from the trenches. A fun way to put an exclamation point at the end of each meeting.

There are more time zone tools at, too, so be sure to check it out if you want to find local times around the world for your event, convert times for any location, and more. That might not be enough to schedule meetings across a number of time zones, but it’s a quick way to figure out if you’re ok to call your boss at 6 p.m. If you travel the world frequently, knowing which a time zone you’re in relative to GMT is crucial—and it’s also important if you’re working with a distributed team. Knowing the difference between Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific time alone isn’t enough anymore. You’ll need to know which times of the day your colleague in London will be awake, and the times you’re most likely to get support tickets from your Australian customers. “Any remote worker knows you have to be flexible, so I feel time zone differences don’t impact your remote work life too much,” says Zapier’s Smith.

How Do You Work Across Time Zones In Software Engineering?

Settings include public and private channels so you can have some fun open group conversations and more project-specific channels. Visuals can help a lot when people are trying to understand the time differences. Have some fun with Photoshop or Canva and create a map that shows where everyone on your team is. These meetings should be an efficient and good use of time, so if you feel they aren’t productive, try scheduling them further apart.

  • When you’re working in a distributed fashion, learning to be an effective async communicator is going to be the biggest factor in your success.
  • Transform your organization and build a competitive advantage by putting your culture first.
  • Using this app, the manager can visualize every developer in the team, what they are working on, minimizing interruptions, and it also provides for automatic integration with slack as well as other tools.
  • It makes scheduling meetings difficult, but we can also hand off work to keep the wheels turning 24/7.
  • In addition to following those best practices, it’s good to take inventory of the tools, apps, and software programs available to the team.

The Culture First Community is a group of people leaders, HR practitioners, and change agents committed to building a better world of work. Transform your organization and build a competitive advantage by putting your culture first. The fact that your team is dispersed all over the world means that you must pay special attention to keep it working as a cohesive unit.

It can get overwhelming trying to set up a time that works for the entire team. When everyone lives in different time zones, writing, planning, and documentation tend to become the default behavior for remote employees. This means people who were offline can dive into documentation to catch up, rather than having to wait for answers. 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. Working across time zones is tricky, but the benefits outweigh the costs if you have the right culture, processes, and follow best practices.

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But when your team is distributed, you need to be crystal clear on each person’s job so you can effectively collaborate and meet performance goals on schedule. If you don’t want to spend another minute doing time zone math and converting time, you should use a time zone management tool. Time zone management apps are a great way to know which employee is drifting off to sleepland and which one is available at the moment. Use it to hold your all-hands meetings, daily standups, and video calls to maximize the team’s productivity. This overlap might require sacrifice from team members, but it’s critical.

  • Video chats also come into play during our new hire onboarding process.
  • Expanding the talent pool, running operations 24/7, and valuing deliverables over seat-warming are just a few.
  • One thing that I tried out in order to help with the time zone conundrum of a time zone converter was the Google Calendar second time zone option.

If you’ve got all the time zones covered, that means someone in the world will always be working and serving customers without the need for late-night shifts. Compared to the advantages, the disadvantages of working in multiple time zones end up being minor inconveniences. This is evidenced by the fact that more and more companies are opting to work remotely, withresearch from Bluefacepredicting that remote work will rival office work by 2025. Yet from a business point of view, it’s hard to argue against operating across multiple time zones.

Great Place to Work showed “stable or even increased productivity levels after employees started working from home” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Set up Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives and guidelines to promote respect, understanding, and clear communication among your dispersed team. You might set inclusive language policies or provide ongoing cultural or language training. When working with people in different countries or from different cultures, there’s bound to be some cultural and language barriers.

Companies Successfully Working Across Time Zones

We have a few standing methods of making sure these types of communication happen often, including the daily pair call and weekly or biweekly mastermind chats. These chats are normally only 2-3 people maximum, so more often than not it’s possible to find a time that works for everyone across multiple time zones. In addition to following those best practices, it’s good to take inventory of the tools, apps, and software programs available to the team. Here are a few favorites of the teams that have been successfully working across time zones for a while.

working across multiple time zones

Collaboration across different time zones can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. The right remote team structure and tools can make working across time zones just as easy as working next to someone in the office. So, if your company has turned into a global business and wants to retain all your valued employees, you will need to ensure that the employees in their respective time zone feel appreciated and respected. Moreover, you can also follow the below guidelines to create a better management strategy for your newly decentralized work culture. Even between the east and west coast of the United States, there is a three-hour time difference. Hosting an 8 AM meeting in New York City, which seems completely appropriate to start your day, would mean someone in Los Angeles needing to be up and ready to go by 5 AM.

Get Everyones Availability Before Planning A Meeting

It also helps increase work efficiency as you can track employee progress at your time and discuss it over a scheduled meeting. These tools also help you work on the same projects by easily coordinating with your teammates.

When teams are dispersed, these interruptions are limited, and as mentioned earlier, they are often restricted to only necessary interruptions. Now, sophisticated communication technologies allow employees to see and speak with one another from any location, share screens, and organize project flows. Not to mention telecommuting is already being championed by Millennials and Gen Z employees who demand more flexible working policies or remote work options. It’s likely that dispersed teams will increasingly become the norm, and organizations should be strategic about leveraging them.

Sharing Travel Plans And Schedule Changes

The calendars should include working hours, scheduled time off, and national holidays. In today’s global and remote-first world, managers should adjust how they think about productivity. Instead, consider tracking factors like meeting deadlines, fulfilling goals and quotas, and the quality of their work. Research from GitLab, 32% of companies are fully remote with employees working in their native time zones. When sending an assignment, email, or before making a call, ensure that the time matches the receiver’s work hours.

Work Effectively Across Time Zones

• Create a virtual “water cooler” and encourage personal chatter. This is a great way to build collaboration and cultivate a shared sense of team and connection.

Developers, perhaps, have it the easiest with code comments and pull requests, but everyone should share what’s happening in their own “manager of one” domain. Whether it’s just a team check-in or something more collaborative, meetings will always be a thing. We’ve worked hard to improve our asynchronous collaboration⁠—more on that below⁠—and it’s paid off big time for us.

Next, you’ll want to make asynchronous communication the norm while leaving room for synchronous team-building. After all, having employees working in multiple time zones is like giving your company a 24-hour workday — with the best talent in the world.