9 Tips for Working With Teams in Different Timezones


A critical yet commonly overlooked challenge that remote workers face is efficiently working in different time zones. Although collaborating with global professionals promotes career growth, it also requires you to follow hectic schedules. It’s important to understand the cultural norms and traditions of the countries in which your company has remote workers. They may work different hours, celebrate different holidays, or communicate differently due to these cultural differences.

Conducting meetings for a group of 10 or more busy individuals may be difficult; doing so for a globally scattered team in… For those used to working from the same time zone or physical space, considering the other person’s needs might not be a habitual way of working. For example, if someone has trouble accessing a file, they can ping you and you can fix it right away. 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.

Use tools to figure out time zones.

If it’s recurring and unavoidable (and it often will be), try to schedule meeting times so that the burden is shared across the team rather than by the same people each week. 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.

A general lack of distractions, in addition to reduced commute time and the overall comfort of the home or other chosen work environment, have made the significant productivity boost possible. And, as the pandemic is dying out, and companies are issuing the return-to-the-office memos, it’s pretty much business as usual for teams working across time zones. These benefits aren’t going away with the pandemic for teams operating in international virtual offices.

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Let your clients or colleagues know how soon they can expect to hear back from you, and if there will be any delays due to time zone differences. Before scheduling meetings or setting deadlines, consider the time differences and find a suitable time that works for everyone. Avoid https://remotemode.net/blog/10-tips-on-working-in-different-time-zones/ last-minute changes, as this can cause confusion and stress for your colleagues or clients. Planning ahead will make sure everyone is well-informed and prepared for meetings and deadlines. Teams that span different time zones will likely span different cultures as well.


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Finally, another important aspect is establishing a dedicated workspace and avoiding working from your bed or couch. By creating a physical separation between work and home life, you can help to maintain a healthy balance and avoid burnout. Working across time zones means that you aren’t limited to the local talent market. Companies often get highly specialized talent for less than what the local market dictates. As the sun sets and another workday comes to an end in a one-time zone, coffee or tea is being brewed to welcome the sun and the start of a new day in another. Part of running an effective international team is making everyone feel included.

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To make the story short, I booked a flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles, and, after two years of living abroad in Asia, assumed that my flight was quoted on international 24-hour time. During this time, I was working with a team based in the US, with team members based across the country from Seattle to NYC. I was the only team member working from Vietnam, Taiwan, Ireland, Portugal and Estonia, so a few months in, I offered to use my time zone location to the company’s benefit. In this day and age with working remotely while traveling, it’s less clear than ever before as to where someone is physically located and what time it is near them at a certain moment.

  • Planning meetings across time zones might sound so painful that you’d rather just never have meetings—but don’t do that either.
  • This is foundational to working in a distributed team spread across time zones where quick check-ins aren’t feasible.
  • „Let your team know you’re available over Slack (or whichever tool you use), and build in ‚air-time‘ in your agenda for check-ins or quick chats.“
  • One of our challenges as a team is to strike the right balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication.

„A remote work environment should encourage performance—not presence,“ says entrepreneur Neil Patel. Then, you won’t have to worry about time off and how many hours people are working. „You are simply looking for high-performers who can get stuff done.“

Avoid micromanagement and set appropriate expectations.

That might mean you can move to a city where it’s easier to start a family, or extend your „vacation“ to a few months on the beach each year. You might even find time to visit some of the incredible cities on Nomad List while still https://remotemode.net/ contributing your all to your team. Sometimes you need someone to hold you accountable or just to work alongside you. Jeff Atwood found that when he started Stack Overflow programming on his own turned into a lonely job.

  • When you work from a different country, or a different timezone, you need to sit down with your team and communicate what your acceptable working hours are.
  • When working remotely you might feel pressured to attend meetings at all times of the day.
  • „Be ready to jump on a call/video-call without having to schedule a time for it,“ Ronnqvist Ahmadi advises.
  • Getting familiar with the map can help you visualize time zones before you even get to World Time Buddy in your browser (but, we still recommend using World Time Buddy to perfect your calculations).
  • This means people who were offline can dive into documentation to catch up, rather than having to wait for answers.

You’ll be amazed by how much can be replaced by a written memo or message. This issue can be compounded when you employ a diverse team who come from different locations and cultural backgrounds, many of whom may be communicating in their second (or third) language. It’s tempting to believe that sending someone a fast email will save them time, while in reality, it may end up wasting more of their day. Pick up the phone and talk it out if you need something done quickly or want your coworker to make a choice right away. A value-based culture can be seen in the actions and implementation of the business. It outlines the core vision, guiding principles, beliefs, and priorities of the organization as the essential driving force.

Below are three ground rules to get you started with collaboration across time zones. If you are a regular reader of our blog, you will have realised a common thread which is establishing clear boundaries. Establishing boundaries around work-life balance, around meeting cadence, and in general around your asynchronous communication methods. Managing expectations, especially when working remotely with an international team, is possibly one of the most important leadership skill you can develop regardless of your role or position. Relationships foster trust, increase collaboration and boost productivity in any work environment. Having a social relationship with colleagues does more than just combat isolation.

working across time zones

We often form teams from across these studios to work on a client project. 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. The tool shown above is one that our awesome developer Dan made just for Buffer, and it helps us all a ton to know what’s going on with any teammate at a glance. (If you’re a developer yourself and want something similar, he’s made the code available on Github). When aiming to plan a productive meeting, make sure to get everyone’s input before moving forward with a meeting time.

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