Building a Remote Workforce

Tips for Working With Teams in Different Time Zones

by Preston Lee
Tips for Working With Teams in Different Time Zones

Working with a global remote team can be complicated. With these tips, your team will communicate and work together better than ever despite being in different time zones.

Due to the advantages remote work brings both companies and employees, its popularity is rising faster than ever before. And while having a remote team has many pros, working with individuals in different time zones can also become tricky.

This article discusses some of the challenges of working with remote international teams and presents seven tips to help you succeed with yours.

Key Challenges of Working With Teams in Different Time Zones

When the time zones of your teammates differ from yours by one hour or so, coordinating times is probably not a big deal, right?

But, how do you push a project forward when your direct manager is in Australia and you live in the United States? (That could be anywhere from twelve to an eighteen-hour difference).

How do you develop a successful product when your engineering team is formed of people in Mexico, India, Brazil, and Indonesia, and they all need to work on the product at the same time? 

Below are some issues that can arise in this global environment:

  • A lack of clarity about time zones can cause workflow delays and even missed deadlines.
  • Poor communication can turn into low-quality deliverables or create extra work for everyone involved.
  • Tasks involving multiple people can become difficult without the right system or tools to discuss
  • Team members can feel isolated, disconnected, or not aligned with company culture, increasing chances of poor-performance or quitting.
  • Work-life balance of team members can be affected if they try to manage unnatural schedules or are communicating out of their regular work hours.
  • These issues can then impact relationships with business partners, customers, and employees.

7 Tips for Working in Different Time Zones

1. Set Up a Tech Ecosystem That Works You

Your team may not be able to work during the same hours, but you can design a set of tools that would make collaboration not only possible, but efficient.

There are hundreds of software combinations that we could recommend, but every team is different so there are no right or wrong answers.

Some basic items to consider when looking for your ideal communication technology build:

  • Messaging/video
  • Project management
  • Calendar/appointments
  • Client communications/customer service
  • Time tracking
  • File sharing/databases

You may need less, more, or very specific solutions. Finding the ideal combination will require some thinking, research, and testing, but the internet is your limit and options available are endless.

2. Set Up a "Headquarters" Timezone

Setting up an official "headquarters" or HQ timezone allows your team standardize their communication and how they manage tasks, due dates, and even real-time interactions with other team members.

There aren’t rules about what this time should be, however, the HQ timezone is usually determined by the location of your clients, the city where the headquarters is located, or the company’s country of residence.

3. Use Asynchronous Video Messaging Tools

Why hold a video conference when you can record a video and share it with your team?

Time differences can make it difficult or even impossible for some team members to attend a live video conference, but let’s be honest, most meetings should be held asynchronously anyway.

By using an asynchronous video messaging tool to record announcements, provide feedback, or train your team, you save everyone time, make it more convenient, and allow each team member to work when they are most productive. The video is also available to watch later and can allow you to use it on-demand or even build a training database.

4. Choose a Culture of Respect

Healthy companies are formed by healthy employees. These employees are usually healthier if they have a good work-life balance.

A good remote work culture would be one where flexible work hours are encouraged, where you can truly “be off” when your work is finished, and when you don't have to respond to messages, emails, or have phone calls during your personal time.

5. Allow Flexible Work Hours

While not every role would support this 100%, companies should allow this to the maximum extent possible.

The reason is simple: when companies allow employees to work where and when it’s convenient for them, they are allowing them to have a happier and more balanced lifestyle. That well-being will transfer directly into their performance and change everything for the employees, their families, and the company.

6. Set Up a Solid Workflow

The fact that people can work with flexibility and autonomy doesn’t mean that projects will be easier or that due dates will be met automatically. Both managers and team members have to make things happen.

How do you prevent failure? By setting up and following a system that allows every team member to do their part appropriately, without rush, and with the right time for accountability and feedback.

The specific of each system will depend on the type of work you do, but you usually would like to:

  1. Clearly outline the system/process and make it known to your team.
  2. Centralize the system and its details in a visual form. Every team member involved should be able to see the progress, comment, and receive notifications (usually a project management tool).
  3. Design the system in a way that it allows for feedback/corrections and that it takes into account the time zone differences of each team member involved.
  4. Set up quality filters (at least two) so that work delivered is polished and of quality.
  5. Automate as much of what we mentioned above so that the process becomes a vehicle and not an obstacle.

To help this workflow, check out recommended remote team communication best practice.

7. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Virtual Socializing

If a company has the option to organize face-to-face retreats or meetings, that’s definitely the way to go. If they don’t though, that doesn’t mean they should quit all efforts to socialize. This is where the creativity of the team leaders should kick in.

Consider a variety of different activities, from the usual Zoom calls to online games, book/movie clubs, and more. Here are five ways to motivate your remote team.

This is a very important part of recognizing that we are all human and that we can connect in many different ways (even asynchronously) to make our work relationships more meaningful and even enjoyable.

The Key is To Be Async

It can be tough to embrace asynchronous work at first. That’s mostly because we fight the process.

Since the world hasn’t embraced asynchronous work yet we try to mix old-fashioned practices with the new ones and the result is that we don’t move in any direction.

Async is the key for remote teams to unlock a higher level of productivity and growth, and only at the moment that you fully embrace it,  and have the patience to test the process, will you start seeing results.

How To Maximise Your Async Work

At Crossover, we believe everyone can start enjoying the benefits of being more productive, more creative, and having more focus by working async. 

That way, we'll not only be better at work, but have more time to spend with those that we love and pursue interests and passions for a well-balanced life.

Find a 100% remote role that will allow you to work async through Crossover.

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