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14 Tips for How to Work with Clients in Different Time Zones

The pressure to be consistently productive each day on one’s own tired out members of our team. 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. Teams in traditional office settings sometimes measure productivity by how long each team member spends at their desk. But remote teams can fall into the “I’m online, so I’m being productive” trap, too.

You can work at opposite times from the rest of your team, and still join in on all the office banter. It might not be possible—or even desirable—for each team member to take ownership of part of your company’s work, but you can break projects up in a way that everyone has their own specific area to focus on. This strategy makes your projects asynchronous, which remote developer Mutahhir Ali Hayat suggests is the best way to make remote development work out.

How teams can best manage working across time zones

For example, if you’re based in the U.S. and have teams in Asia and California, finding a time that fits into everyone’s schedules and usual work hours can be tricky. Spell out your location in introductions, or speak up when a team is setting up recurring meetings. It’s all part of the challenges of working in different time zones, but it’s easily resolvable. Maybe your sales team is in Chicago and your dev team is in Dublin.

  • Ideally, these virtual spaces would inspire teams to add to the informal chat thread, regardless of the time they logged in.
  • The social disconnect can breed various productivity and personal obstacles that could wreak havoc on your organization over time.
  • When international collaboration is done poorly, you might run into frustration from colleagues, all sorts of misalignment, and a sense of personal and professional disconnection across teams.
  • As questions arise, figure out a mutually agreeable time to meet and discuss specific issues.
  • You can, however, overcome these challenges with the right tools and approaches.

Along with trust, the compass for guiding remote work culture will be the mutual goals of the teams and company. Company goals should be referenced in a shared mission statement, an accessible company or team handbook, and a yearly roadmap. These agreed-upon goals remind team members they are contributing with others for an outcome and group purpose that benefits everyone together, even when separated. Developing a shared vision allows for a stronger foundation and creates a more positive work atmosphere, both of which are essential for success. Most of my projects are managed through a combination of Trello and Google Docs.

Challenges of working across time zones

“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. Daylight specializes in end-to-end projects that require research and strategy up-front and buildable solutions towards the end. We adopt the human-centered design process, which invites us to start with open-ended questions and be inspired by the people we are designing for. When you’re not in the same place with your teammates and you don’t have set work hours, one thing that becomes really important is frequent, clear communication. In this one, you can type in specific places and time zones to get exact times for those who may not be in the major cities. And as our team grows and changes, we sometimes have to change and renegotiate the way we work through time zones.

By respecting your own boundaries and your own work/life balance, you signal to your team that you will also respect theirs. In an increasingly digitized and ever more globalized world, more and more of us are finding ourselves working from home and collaborating with people who live hundreds or thousands of miles away. And, we support a number of clients who are also spread out across time zones. I’ll bet most of you cannot remember learning to tie your shoelaces or brushing your teeth. And for a majority of us, these actions have become unremarkable parts of our daily routines. I’m sure most of us kept at it (or at least, your parents made you keep at it) until it developed into something we could do without thinking twice.

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Ideally, you’ll write a memo before each meeting to help attendees know what to expect and how to prepare. You’ll be surprised how many meetings aren’t needed if you do this. Remind remote team members that social interaction doesn’t have to come from co-workers or consider offering a co-working space stipend as a remote employee benefit.

Despite attempts to reinvent time zones to make it easier for everyone around the world, we still can’t seem to come to a universal agreement. Generally, this isn’t too much of a problem as everyone understands the time zones in their region. In the United States, there’s a three-hour difference between the East and West. Use this article as your guide to overcome these challenges and you’ll be well on your way to building strong relationships across time zones.

Mastering Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communication

This means the window of opportunity for in-person calls is very slim, unless one party is willing to forgo sleep. Since you work with remote teams worldwide, you should familiarize yourself with the holidays observed in other countries. It’s disrespectful to downplay another country’s major holiday just because you don’t follow it. Make a habit of using military time and specifying time zones when scheduling meetings. You could even include a reminder telling recipients to convert the indicated time to their local time zones. Working with colleagues in different time zones can be challenging.

  • In today’s workplace, diversity breeds new and unique ideas, allows us to look at our campaigns from different points of view, and benefits companies financially.
  • Let’s outline all the key steps companies can take to better manage working across time zones within the asynchronous collaboration framework.
  •’s World Clock Meeting Planner won’t win any design awards, but it makes time shift scheduling straightforward.
  • But if you’re working on a remote team that’s scattered across the world, it gets trickier to remember what time it is for your colleague in Germany and another in India.
  • We often form teams from across these studios to work on a client project.
  • Even when you’re working with a colleague in the same country as you, not getting as specific as possible about dates or times can cause confusion or slow your processes.

As the idiom goes, “Make hay while the sun shines,” and in this case, the sun is always shining somewhere. If you do all these things as the project manager, you’ll have a happy and healthy remote team that performs at its best. Time zones don’t need to get in the way of great collaboration and achieving fantastic results. Other remote managers I know use tools like timesheet apps and remote monitoring software like TimeDoctor. Monitoring project progress will allow you to catch any problems early, and resolve them before they put the whole project behind schedule.

One clear benefit for remote companies is the expanded talent pool. Hiring globally means you can get the best engineers, designers, marketers, etc. in the world and not just in your city, time zone, or even country. With this global team, you create more diversity of thought, which can result in more innovation and revenue. But if you’re working on a remote team that’s scattered across the world, it gets trickier to remember what time it is for your colleague in Germany and another in India.

How do you engage stakeholders in different time zones?

  1. Great team organization is key.
  2. Let virtual processes and project management tools make things simpler.
  3. Record meetings for those that can't make them.
  4. Be specific when mentioning dates and times.
  5. Ensure everyone is on the same page by verifying agreed upon times.