How To Work Across Time Zones As A Remote Team

When working with a distributed team, it’s important to understand the differences between sync and async communication, and the extreme importance of asynchronous communication. When you are looking for employees or business partners, it can be tough to find the right person in an industry where ‘who you know’ is just as important as what you know. By hiring remote workers, you’ll never have to worry about geographical limitations again. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you organize your team and schedule your projects around the time zones of everyone on it.

tips working across time zones

Similarly, if a hiring manager in California gives a Dublin-based job candidate an interview time without noting EST or PST, the job candidate might log on for a video interview at the wrong time. “If you’re clear about why you can’t work every hour of the day across all timezones, teammates will understand that. Just make sure you propose alternatives,” says Nataly Kelly, HubSpot’s VP of Localization. Technical expertise can be sourced from markets where labor costs are lower. In addition, faster development times mean the organization can leverage the technology sooner, gaining more efficiency earlier than in a standard development cycle.

Best Team Practices When Working Across Time Zones

Even though it’s arguably much more challenging to train and manage global teams, with the right strategies in place, you don’t have to see engagement drop or frustrations mount. Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop and take care of a thriving global workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense. When managing remote team members, the most important thing to keep in mind is to provide an inclusive experience for all.

There are many features of the world that I simply cannot wrap my head around, and one of these has always been time zones. At Zapier, we’ve formalized communications about what we’re working on with a Friday update post that lists our top priority for the week and what progress we made on it. 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.” To work effectively with a time shift, you’ll also need to work in public. In other words, communicate, and make sure everyone knows what you’re working on. 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.

Assign Time Zones To Calendar Events

In any given team, there can be multiple cultural backgrounds and perspectives—which could mean that phrases that feel common to you aren’t so common for everyone else and vice-versa. It’s not fair to expect that a phrase like midday means the same for everyone. That kind of thinking also led O’Brian to consider her written communication more carefully. “I think a lot more now about speaking slowly, considering what I’m saying, and demystifying jargon,” she says. If Slack seems awfully quiet, it might be because your colleagues in another country are celebrating a holiday.

tips working across time zones

You may also have team members who like working split shifts, where they work part of the morning, take time off to run errands or pick up their kids from school, then continue working at night. 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.” It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that sending someone a quick email will save them time, when it may actually end up wasting more of their day. If you need something done urgently or want your co-worker to make a decision ASAP, pick up the phone and talk it out. In lieu of a meeting, send a Loom video where you talk through information and request feedback.

Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Checklist For Hr Managers

While I was abroad, we moved all meetings to overlap with my time difference. That meant meetings were the first thing on my calendar at 5 am and the last thing on my co-workers’ schedules at the end of the day.

Video chat programs (, Zoom, Google Hangouts) or messaging services will cover your real-time needs. However, sometimes it’ll just be impossible to schedule a face-to-face to suit everybody. It’s not easy to admit, but time zone discrepancies will affect work repartition and scheduling. However, ideally, this influence will stay minimal, thanks to defined processes and organization. Setting some clear ground rules might chafe at first, but will act as a safeguard over time. Rather than having someone work an entire day based on a different time zone, consider splitting the day up among your employees. Best practices for managing teams across more than one time zone, such as communicating and establishing boundaries.

The Pros And Cons Of Working Across Time Zones

Although it can get challenging at times to manage a geographically dispersed team, there are still many more benefits to the approach. And this is particularly why we’re seeing a consistent increase in the number of companies employing globally.

tips working across time zones

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. Team TimeZone provides detailed as well as compact views for various-sized teams. The app even enables the availability status of the different team members and it also helps in visualizing the time difference for a better grasp of the time zone gaps within your team. The actual time difference between co-workers is a significant barrier to effective real-time communication. If remote employees don’t have overlap in work hours, there can be a lag between a question being asked and answered. Working with a distributed team can be challenging at first because it’s difficult to build the kind of rapport that comes naturally when working in an office setting.

Encourage Virtual Watercooler Chats

As the rewards largely outweigh the drawbacks, it’s worth exploring the best team practices provided above to make working across time zones work. They will help you craft your perfect blend of flexibility, asynchronous work, and inclusive mindset to push your distributed team towards perpetual success. Of course, if you can’t afford to fly your entire team to a location very often, you can turn to virtual team-building events to keep up the team spirit in the meantime. You can invite your team members to join a private group or a public channel in the team chat app you use — for example, you can name the channel #group-activities, #team_fun_times, or simply, #team-building.

  • Remote companies that embrace multiple time zones must rely on asynchronous communication.
  • Looking for more tips for managing distributed teams and remote employees?
  • As the rewards largely outweigh the drawbacks, it’s worth exploring the best team practices provided above to make working across time zones work.
  • On that note, as a warning, guesswork can be a huge time-suck with remote work.

People can send it in a text-based form, or their own Loom video. Remote workers can come from anywhere in the world, which means they have unique perspectives to share with their colleagues.

Download Courses And Learn On The Go

One of the ways you can keep tabs on these is by subscribing to the relevant calendars in Google Calendar. From the web interface, click the plus button next to Other calendars, then Browse calendars of interest, working across time zones followed by Regional holidays. Now every time you suspect the other side of the world is busy celebrating, you can open your calendar and check if that’s the case, or if there’s some people you need to nag.

  • Of course, not everything is best when it comes tocollaborating across multiple time zones.
  • When it comes to working remotely with teams across different time zones, the most important thing is to be mindful, empathetic, and respectful.
  • When you can’t just have a quick chat over the coffee pot, it’s important that communication is clear and concise and empathetic.
  • One small silver lining, though, has been the newfound freedom that freshly remote workers have discovered as a result.
  • Having distributed teams working across time zones essentially implies round-the-clock workflow.

Write what you’ve done that day, share where you’re hung up on a project, and ping others with ideas. 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. The ability to see what others are saying not only gives you insight to how others are working—something you might glean by working together—but it also enables the more fun aspects of working in a team. “What’s more, I have a feeling of intimacy with co-workers on the other side of the country that is almost fun,” Manjoo says. “One danger of my job, as a columnist who works in California, is a feeling of disconnection from the mother ship in New York,” writes technology columnist Farhad Manjoo. Even still, odds are you’ll be working with someone who’s not online at the same time as you. Every employee is also assigned a random “pair partner” each week— that means we’ll jump on a call with one of our colleagues just see how things are going, and perhaps work together on a cross-team project.

It’s crucial that you adopt a remote-first mindset, document decisions clearly and concisely for people who are unable to attend, and record the meeting. Ideally, you’ll write a memo before each meeting to help attendees know what to expect and how to prepare.

Best Practices For Making Remote Work, Work

When you schedule meetings and send meeting invitations, clarify the time zone in which the meeting takes place. Video conferences are great for seeing and hearing other people, but they’re not the same as face-to-face meetings. We routinely have team members make visits to different offices. 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. Rather than have your colleagues do time-zone math every time there’s a deadline, clarify what “end of day” really means. If a team member is waiting to review content being created on another coast, managers should consider shifting deadlines that ensure everyone’s time is used effectively. There are team members that have to get up early or stay up late to make this daily meeting, but it’s a small price to pay for all of the benefits of remote work.

Collaborating Across Different Time Zones: 5 Best Practices And Tools For Greatness

I ended up naturally allotting more of my time than expected to calls, meetings, documentation, reading everything on Slack to keep up with all that I was missing while I was offline. I prioritized those projects over any strategic research and development. Before leaving for my travels, I outlined a lot of deadlines to keep myself accountable. Therefore, I didn’t want to miss them for anything, driven by the fear that my team might be wondering what I was up to if not delivering on my communicated plans.

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