August 20, 2019

10 Tips For Dealing With A Remote Team And Different Time Zones

To establish this culture, the first thing that you need to do is align the remote workers with a bigger business goal and shared team goal. It will help them see the bigger picture and also help determine progress tracking. Successfully resolve time zone challenges as a distributed virtual team with these tips and best practices and keep your team collaborating productively. Video conferences are great for seeing and hearing other people, but they’re not the same as face-to-face meetings. An important part of this travel for us is to build empathy and a better understanding of each location’s work environment, customer needs, and micro-culture.

Teams that work across multiple time zones can't rely on real-time communication. There's no room to ask clarifying questions and you don't have https://remotemode.net/ the luxury of reading a person's facial expressions or tone of voice. Meetings, and other forms of synchronous communication, have their place.

So, to avoid this, minimize the messages you send after hours and be patient if you don't immediately get a response back. Odds are, a great teammate will get back to you when they begin working the next day. Working during one chunk of the day caters to your timezone, followed by another shift that caters to another team's timezone, is often called a split shift. While creating processes that allow employees to work in different timezones is logistically beneficial, on a deeper level, it also makes it easier for diverse global talent to join your team. When she is not researching the most productive collaboration techniques, she can usually be found trying out the latest team chat and collaboration tools and apps. Moreover, companies should rethink the overall effectiveness of each meeting. It’s a good practice to schedule the meetings only for the exchange of information that can’t be communicated over a team chat app, a document, an email, or a memo.

Use a shared Google calendar to see when employees in other countries are observing national or religious holidays. Allow everyone to add their vacation and time off days here, so it’s easier to plan collaboration sessions while respecting local customs. It’s impossible to keep track of everyone’s local time zone all the time. You’ll probably have a mix of remote team members working from home and digital nomads who travel to a new locale every three months.


This is especially true the smaller your team is as it may be more uncommon for members to be in the same time zone. They're proudly a remote-first company and took full advantage of remote collaboration long before coronavirus. They’re also huge advocates of remote and asynchronous work and recognized early that when implemented effectively, remote collaboration is the key to innovation in the competitive software development landscape. GitLab might be the world's largest fully distributed company best practices for working across time zones with 1,400+ remote workers in 65+ countries. More than 30 million users and 100,000 organizations from startups to global enterprise organizations use GitLab to deliver great software at new speeds. A great way to introduce a more async, documentation culture is to build an employee handbook. An employee handbook is a written document that outlines the company's mission, culture, core values, policies, procedures, teams, best practices, and any other information employees need to do their work.

Having distributed teams working across time zones essentially implies round-the-clock workflow. Companies employing diverse teams spanning multiple time zones enjoy complete time zone coverage. Having all shifts and time zones covered is especially convenient for support and customer service as people don’t need to work past the conventional work hours in their countries, in the case of an emergency. However, other departments and industries can benefit from the approach as well. Of course, not everything is best when it comes tocollaborating across multiple time zones. With such a big gap between certain time zones, remote teams will inevitably experience delayed responses and difficulty scheduling meetings.

It grinds my gears when I’m in the work groove, my battery flashes red at 5%, and I look up and see all the seats near outlets are gone. With the time on my calendar, strategy demanded that I don’t ignore and deprioritize it for more “quick-wins.” It validates the legitimacy of doing work that doesn’t always have an output. Time is precious, especially when the lines from work and home are blurred. If the meeting owner doesn’t set the meeting up to be as effective as possible, then maybe the meeting can be better executed over email.

Invest Time In Establishing A Communication Strategy

These moments will help tie your team together, making it easier to collaborate productively when remote. Team leaders can assign tasks here, add resources (like spreadsheets, mockups, slides, etc.), and set deadlines. Team members will know what they’re responsible for, pick up tasks seamlessly, and leave comments/updates for their coworkers to address during their shifts. Keep a dialog open about work-life boundaries and communication windows. Employees should feel comfortable and safe discussing what’s helping or getting in the way of productivity. Anytime your employees want to message each other, they just have to click “View Profile” to see what time it is where their recipient lives.

best practices for working across time zones

Despite all our “understanding” of being a global team, we used to always privilege Grand Rapids (U.S. Eastern Time) in our meeting schedule and make our Asia team members stay up late. Every month, each team member now has one evening, one mid-day, and one early morning meeting, and misses one meeting that falls in the middle of their night. No team member is expected to attend a team meeting between 10 pm and 7 am.

The Key To Timezone Etiquette

You want to ensure that each team member, no matter where they are working from, has the bigger business objectives in mind and is working towards the same goal. In order to have a team that can collaborate effectively and is conflict-free , you need to establish team spirit, engagement, trust, and shared vision. When deciding on a date or time try and include or state both the time and date according to the time zone you are in as well as for those that you are speaking with in order to avoid confusion. A time difference gives you the option to work without distraction that can lead to improved productivity. This allows you to work on projects and products continuously, passing them off to other team members when your workday is over. You can hire around the globe and thus have access to the best resources wherever they may be physically located. Managing Distributed Teams 5 challenges of international HR What global HR leaders need to know.

  • You’ll need this for team meetings, but it’s also useful for calls between just a couple of people.
  • Teams that thrive working across time zones have clearly defined roles that fit the model of asynchronous work.
  • In addition to personal and work schedules, Google Calendar allows you to add country-specific calendars for holidays.
  • We have learned that having consistent meetings where people can connect in both formal and informal ways is critical for fostering team cohesion.

Some apps like Google Calendars even serve a warning if you inadvertently try to book something outside of working hours. 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.

How Do I Add A Second Time Zone In My Google Calendar?

If the issue is complex or there are dependencies involved, you might find yourself drafting a paragraph and editing your message for clarity and tone that can get lost in translation. Once everyone’s set and communicated their working hours, make sure you’re respecting them! This respect is so key to maintaining work-life balance across time zones, and making sure that everyone is communicating in a productive way. "Be ready to jump on a call/video-call without having to schedule a time for it," Ronnqvist Ahmadi advises. "Let your team know you're available over Slack , and build in 'air-time' in your agenda for check-ins or quick chats." Synchronous communication, or communication that happens between teams in real-time, is still essential for team building, bonding, brainstorming, celebrating project milestones, and more.

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. Even with a smaller difference, the morning and late afternoon meetings can be really challenging for some, especially if they are managing a family and multiple schedules.

Heres How To Manage Remote Developers Across Different Time Zones

Transform your organization and build a competitive advantage by putting your culture first. The tool also comes equipped with file sharing features which are essential for collaboration. Flexibility might entail taking a meeting or two or replying to an urgent email outside of your working hours once in a while. No one way is better than the next as long as everyone is feeling seen, heard, and respected, no matter their location or work preferences. Even if your company hosts yearly conferences, that’s still a lot of missed opportunities and time apart on a daily basis. This way team members can digest all the information they need at a time that suits them, without having to worry about falling behind or missing out on crucial work details. Some companies that are already going this route include HubSpot, Zapier, Upwork, Automattic, DuckDuckGo, and GitHub.

  • In fact, remote workers are generally more productive than their in-office counterparts.
  • There are lots of color options, so you can assign each employee or team a certain color on the calendar.
  • Whether you’re ready for it or not, remote work is here to stay and is transforming global business in some amazing ways.
  • It’s a great collaboration and communication tool for teams that are all over the place.

That requires consideration for the local times and working hours of others. You could opt for full asynchronous work, where there’s almost zero time overlap between team members. It’s better to arrive at an intelligent compromise, where at least some members overlap times. This enables them to communicate in real time and reduce delays in query or response.

Strained Communication And Collaboration

If you want to utilize the time management tools for automating the process of managing different time zones of the employees then there is a wide range of tools and applications that are available in the market. Let us analyze a few of these applications, their features and functionalities, and how these tools can be useful for managing developers from across the world. Being a manager in a remote setting involves numerous tasks of streamlining the company’s processes, workflows, and tools, and managing the time zone differences of the different employees. Let us have a look at how you can effectively manage the timezones for aiding the productivity of your organization. The gradual shift to remote work settings has transformed the landscape of various industries. Various companies have a global team of employees working from different continents for them.

best practices for working across time zones

Every team needs to think about what may be best for them, but you’ll want more of these checkpoints than you would need for a fully co-located team. Join us as we go through common challenges of managing remote team members across time zones and five practical tips to overcome them.

Tip 2: Use Chat And Email Together

It wasn’t so hard to keep track of – rather, I just had to know which dates were going to affect my 9 am morning calls with my parents and etc. The Daylight Savings Time framework was proposed by Benjamin Franklin during his stay in Paris and is concerned with accelerating the standard time within the region or zone by one hour to extend daylight time. As the saying goes in the United States, "Spring forward. Fall back." You'll also want each team member working from a private space with minimal distractions .

What Types Of Teams Are Likely To Work Across Time Zones?

The most popular company channels in team chat apps usually include those public, #random channels, or some more specific channels that gather people who share the same interests (e.g. #books, #gaming, #memes). Ideally, these virtual spaces would inspire teams to add to the informal chat thread, regardless of the time they logged in. For one, organizations should consider setting and respecting their team’s time zone boundaries. For example, teams can create shared calendars showing their availability across different hours in a day to ensure no time zone boundaries are crossed. Diversity and inclusion drive innovation and positively impact overall business targets within remote companies that span across time zones. Understandably, this approach largely supports innovation and ultimately leads to more profit in the long run.

This is mostly a feature that works with internal accounts, so if you are emailing customers or other external partners, you might not have the option. It requires the calendar service to know the location of the recipient. You can ask everyone to share a fun fact about the city or town they are in. Take it a step further and have everyone share a local food or drink that you might not find in other places. It’s always fun to learn something new and it’s a great way to bring people a little closer together even when they are physically far apart. With about one-third of all workers working from home in May of 2020, it was clear that the work could still get done and people could be productive even when they were away from their normal desks.

Bonding activities are available across the globe and you can choose the most convenient locations from the thousands available. Every member in the team must be aware of the structure to use in making a decision. This makes it easier to reach consensus on related projects faster and in a systematic way. An escalation path should also be created where there sticking issues delaying decision making. The action plan must also include a meeting structure, what is needed, purpose and format to be used be it teleconferencing, chat or video conferencing.

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