Working Across Time Zones

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. 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. Even still, odds are you’ll be working with someone who’s not online at the same time as you.

working in different time zones

If you have to communicate with someone about something that’s not urgent and you know they are offline, consider scheduling an email to avoid pinging them with notifications about non-urgent things. As more and more companies are going remote, there’s a whole new wave of companies who are working on perfecting the art of working as a globally distributed team. If you’re already working remotely, why not tap into the enormous global talent pool to find the absolute best people for the job? Well, the answer for some people is that they don’t know how to work across different time zones. Of the departments most likely to operate using global teams, human resources and sales top the list at 63 and 62 percent, respectively, followed by IT and operations and marketing .

Stay Awake If You Can

Tap the corresponding entry on your phone or the web, and the time of the events in your calendar will automatically adapt to whatever time zone you’re in. If your event happens to fall out of office hours for any guests, you’ll get a notification letting you know so you can modify it accordingly.

  • Another element of globally distributed teams is working across different countries and cultures.
  • 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).
  • Be willing to sacrifice for their comfort and ease of working with you.
  • You can set your own time zone, and save the time zones you work with most to have an easy way to switch between them.
  • Ideally, these virtual spaces would inspire teams to add to the informal chat thread, regardless of the time they logged in.

Of course, for organizations working across time zones, this type of effort would involve coming up with creative ways to have everyone on board and involved in the conversation. It takes really getting to know your team members and tapping into their shared interests to get the casual conversation going. “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.” Timezone messages like the one above can help you be mindful of what to send when to send it, and if your message is urgent enough to send as soon as possible.

Try Different Collaboration Tools

This becomes important when scheduling meetings, waiting for responses and generally being aware of colleagues’ working hours. Instead of trying to do this manually all the time, use a time zone tool like Figure It Out to help you keep all of your time zones straight. It is often cited as one of the benefits of virtual technology but practically this is impossible. If you have teams across different time zones it is not logical to manage your team around the clock. The times when you’re all together with your team become a lot more sacred when you work remote. Confidence in the connection of your internet will give you confidence in connecting with your colleagues on video chats.

  • Successfully resolve time zone challenges as a distributed virtual team with these tips and best practices and keep your team collaborating productively.
  • Flexible work hours also give team members a chance to work when they’re most productive, whether that be all morning, all afternoon, all night, or a mixed schedule.
  • 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.

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. If a teammate requests feedback from me, I record myself and my screen to save time typing long, convoluted paragraphs. Plus, that enables my team members to see what I’m referring to directly and takes the guesswork out. At first, it was an opportunity that was important for me to experience personally. In the end, it was a great remote learning experience for me professionally. I’ve carried many of those learnings into the remote work I still do to this day. Try pinning important messages make it easy for team members to sort through a mountain of messages to see what content is most important for them to catch up on.

Communicate Clearly About Timezone Boundaries With Your Team

With regular earbuds from behind, how will people know you’re in the zone? This tip also applies to block out chaotic family members at home or even for those moments on Friday when everyone is feeling chattier at work. If you’re feeling like you’re always reacting, then here’s one change you can make. Those blocks of time are going to be crucial in helping your work and team in the long-term. Check out our menu of Career Services provided by our team of certified professionals, including resume and career coaching services for remote jobseekers. JoiningVirtual Vocationsgrants you access to our hand-picked remote jobs database. Before sending a resource to your international teammates, read through it from their perspective and ask yourself what questions they might have.

working in different time zones

If the receiver had any questions, even trivial ones, they had to wait several hours to get an answer. Given these time delays, the people preparing hand-offs felt like they needed to complete a significant milestone to make it easier for the next person to be able to build on top of it. Given that after my day, the other person’s day would start, there was no room to skip a beat. The pressure to be consistently productive each day on one’s own tired out members of our team. You may be wondering how to hold team-building exercises when your team is scattered in different time zones.

Tip 3: Find A Good Video Conferencing System

Finally, a successful asynchronous collaboration calls for a set of functional tools to seamlessly tie all autonomous teams and operations together. Using a single, multifunctional tool such as Pumble, to streamline diverse conversations and collaborative projects across time zones can increase overall productivity by 30%. Teams operating across time zones require a unique set of functionalities specifically customized to meet the needs of the asynchronous workforce. When assessing team chat and collaboration apps for your distributed team, look for features that allow flexibility, autonomy, seamless collaboration, and transparent availability status options. At Culture Amp, we have offices in San Francisco, New York, and London with our headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, and remote employees across the world. On Fridays in the US, the Melbourne team is already gone for the weekend, and on Mondays in Australia, our US folks are still wrapping up their Sunday dinners.

  • Be a master of knowing which countries change clocks, and which don’t.
  • Options could include one or more days per week on which employees work a half-day in the office, then remotely at night or early in the morning.
  • For example, teams can create shared calendars showing their availability across different hours in a day to ensure no time zone boundaries are crossed.
  • Working with clients and customers in different time zones is challenging.

Software engineer Kevin Furbish found this to be true about his remote team at Intuit. “Many of us tend to work crazy hours, which mitigates being in different time zones.” 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. Sure, a team brainstorming session is most effective over a video conference, however, a general weekly update doesn’t necessarily require a 5 a.m.


You’ll need to know which times of the day your colleague in London will be awake, and the times you’re most likely to get support tickets from your Australian customers. The Couchsurfing team has a similar schedule to make sure everyone’s connected. “We have a bi-monthly full company meeting to make sure we all know we still exist,” writes designer Ben Hanna. At Zapier, we stay connected with our team in a number of ways. We post thoughts and updates about team projects on Slack, regardless of who’s online. Plus, each department has a weekly video call to map out that week’s work, and every Thursday we’ll have an all-hands call in order to get everyone together.

  • You may be wondering how to hold team-building exercises when your team is scattered in different time zones.
  • Our advice for future teams is to design an intentional strategy and process to facilitate team alignment.
  • I lived right on the border between eastern and center time zones.
  • Since you will not always be able to manage your employees in real-time, it is ideal that you clarify your expectations from your workforce at the very beginning.

This can make it easier for employees to quickly know what the time difference is for their location. When we ruled out flying in 2020, we adjusted by working remotely across time zones, cultures, and homes. We sometimes treaded into new projects not knowing how hard it was going to get with this new arrangement. We’d like to share our learnings and tips so that future teams don’t have to feel as much growing pain as we did.

Productivity Boost

The visual time zone converter helps you easily find the exact time difference between locations. Gone are the days where you just need to know Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones. Aside from calendars, it also just takes more effort to stay connected with the team in general. This is especially true the smaller your team is as it may be more uncommon for members to be in the same time zone. There are widely accepted benefits to distributed work, and anyone who manages remote team members is well aware of them. Expanding the talent pool, running operations 24/7, and valuing deliverables over seat-warming are just a few.

working in different time zones

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. Record or take notes during the meeting to share with those who couldn’t make it.

They’ll also get notified if they’re reaching out to you outside of office hours, which can be helpful if you don’t care for your phone buzzing in the middle of the night. You can do this on the web by clicking on your profile picture , then choosing Edit profile. If you’re on mobile, select You, View profile, then working in different time zones Edit profile. In this day and age, offices seem to have no barriers, so you may have colleagues or clients living in different time zones. This is great (and almost magical—thank you, internet!), but it can also lead to headaches when it comes to staying in touch or when projects and deadlines are involved.

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