Best team practices when working across time zones

Getting used to higher autonomy and async communication can be challenging, but there are more and more companies doing it–and doing it well. GitLab’s handbook is one of the most famous (and best executed) examples of how to build a fantastic employee manual and distributed workplace culture. At 2,200+ pages, it’s thorough, transparent, even allowing people who don’t work at GitLab to contribute. If you are providing information, invest the additional time upfront to answer any questions or solve any issues you think the person may have ahead of time.

working across time zones

Employees can give each response the time and attention it deserves when they take a break to check their messages. Employees may work independently, uninterrupted, and more productively as a result of this. A popular communication tool like Slack will help you with its features like emojis and others. When working with teams in different time zones, the most important thing to remember is to be mindful, empathic, and courteous.

How To Work Effectively Across Time Zones

Your company is probably already using synchronous communication tools, like Slack. With a workforce spread across time zones, you’ll also have to start thinking about investing in asynchronous technology. To maximize their procedures and general culture, internationally distributed teams typically choose asynchronous collaboration as their preferred approach. This is not unexpected considering that the adaptability of asynchronous collaboration is the appropriate solution to the issues of time zone management.

The best way to schedule a meeting or conference call is using a calender to create an event. That way, the time zone for each recipient get’s adjusted automatically according to their time zone. However, if you specifically mention the time zone in your email, you can use GMT or UTC to mention the time. Consider hosting live meetups whenever feasible to help your scattered staff connect.

Establish Everyone’s Time Zone and Preferred Work Hours

But even still, if you want to make a distributed team work, you need to accept a time shift. “I’ll take phone calls late in the evening from folks that don’t realize I’m on the east coast and consider that part of the job for someone working remotely in a different time zone,” Furbish says. Teams in traditional office settings sometimes measure productivity by how long each team member spends at their desk.

Planning meetings across time zones might sound so painful that you’d rather just never have meetings—but don’t do that either. That, perhaps, is the greatest reason that it’s tough to add remote work—and especially a time shift—to teams with years of experience working together in an office. It’s absolutely possible to do great work with a dispersed team, but you must plan work accordingly. Break things up into chunks that can be worked on individually, find time to sync back up on what’s been done, and make sure each person on the team can self-direct their work.

Best practices for working across time zones

Similarly, working across time zones is beneficial to companies on a larger, operational level. 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.

The best way to keep things going well is to be occupied and busy only 80-90% of your working hours so that you have enough time to plan, think, organize and breathe. Certain countries refrain from using a given scheme with its time standard unchanged. For example, Iceland, Russia, Turkey, China, Japan, and India don’t follow such trends. You might find that there’s no perfect time for your team, but at least you’ll find options that aren’t excruciating.

Get Your Asynchronous Communication On Point

The cornerstone of remote work is technology and it can do a lot more than just enable employees to log in and jump on video calls. For employees, remote work can result in boosted productivity, a healthier work-life balance, and significant cost savings. working remotely in a different time zone Research firm Global Workplace Analytics estimates that workers save between $600 and $6,000 per year by working from home at least half of the time. These savings are primarily due to reduced costs for gas, parking, car maintenance, and food.

  • That way, they’ll be able to keep the project moving along once they’re back online, or have enough information to know a face-to-face meeting is needed.
  • Different perspectives and broad ideas can move the company’s vision forward and scale up the business by a considerable margin.
  • People even tested out the possibility of working from a foreign country or becoming more of a digital nomad.
  • 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.
  • Other moments, like grabbing lunch with colleagues, are a great way to break up the day.
  • Work together, even if there is a time gap, and you’ll find that the old adage “two are better than one” is still true.

We’re constantly sharing what’s going on with our lives and schedules, whether we’re popping out to grab some tacos at lunch or spending the next 4 months in Costa Rica. Fewer interruptions leads to more deep work, which can dramatically increase productivity. Deep work, a term coined by Cal Newport, is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. This distraction-free concentration pushes your cognitive abilities to their limit and creates new value, improves skills, and is hard to replicate in our world of instant satisfaction. One of the first mistakes you may make when working remotely from home is to allow all of your favorite (or least favorite) items in the house to distract you.

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