4 Tips To Work Effectively In Different Time Zones
As of 2022, 26% of US employees now work remotely, which is four times the number who worked remotely before. Pre-pandemic, only 6% of American workers were fully remote, but by 2025, there could be as many as 36.2 million Americans working remotely.
Work-from-anywhere policies are life-changing for employees and they can simplify hiring for employers too. But unless everyone is in the same time zone, true collaboration can be tricky.
Here are some of the best tips on how to overcome some of the thorniest time zone challenges.
1. Establish your time zone and preferred work hours
Set your time zone in Slack. Mention your schedule while introducing yourself so that your coworkers know how to reach you.
Also, take this chance to set boundaries. Explain the rare instances where it would be acceptable to message, even after your day has ended. To communicate your schedule more effectively, indicate it on your online profiles.
Aside from specifically discussing timezone-related needs and boundaries as needed, use a shared Google calendar (or a scheduling tool such as Calendly) and encourage colleagues to do the same.
This will give you a better idea of when to schedule meetings, or when you can respectfully send emails, questions, or task assignments to global colleagues. If yours is an entirely remote team, encourage everyone to use time zone converters. Once you and your team establish time zone boundaries and preferred work hours, respect them.
2. Stick to the company communication and collaboration playbook
Everyone should use the same channels (calls or live video check-ins) and shared resources (Slack or email) as it helps to keep conversations centralized, organized and accessible.
Embrace asynchronous work, but do it right. Consider your team’s work hours and the time differences between them before sending messages, making requests, or setting deadlines.
It’s a good habit to explicitly state the deadline in your time zone and your teammate’s time zone to avoid any confusion. Well-written communication is key. People should have everything they need to get started on a task or request ASAP. Leave room for synchronous communication – schedule weekly check-ins or the occasional face-to-face time (live video meetings or watercooler conversations in Slack), especially for one-on-ones and creative collaboration.
3. Set fair meeting times
It’s fair to rotate meeting times between time zones every month or quarter. This ensures no one team is constantly making the sacrifice to stay connected. And it may get everyone to start thinking twice about holding meetings when they’re the one clocking in odd hours.
Tools like World Time Buddy, Time and Date and Every Time Zone make planning meetings easier. If your company works entirely remote, open up an account at timezone.io and you’ll be able to see your entire team on a grid, showing who’s in which zone––and the time it is there.
4. Embrace virtual processes and project management tools
Leverage instant messaging apps and task management software tools that enable your team to collaborate efficiently.
Project managers like Trello, Basecamp, Airtable and Asana and monday.com can keep track of what everyone’s working on, as it moves through the pipeline. Google Docs and Figma for instance can be used to connect everyone in the design process of a creative project.
To explain and show concepts in design, use recorded videos with tools like Loom and Soapbox or work-in-progress (WIP) documents such as Dropbox Paper. Slack continues to lead the way for better communication across time zones.
Additionally some global teams have adapted a standardized set of emoji reactions to their internal instant messages. It’s particularly helpful for checking on the status of tasks at a glance––and also helps when a team doesn’t share the same native language.
Working across time zones is tricky, but it can be a very rewarding experience if your company fosters the right culture and implements processes that follow best practices. If you’re ready for a new way of working, now is the time to fully explore all your available career options. Your first stop? Head to the Tech HQ Job Board where you can browse hundreds of exciting jobs now.
Here are three great roles to consider…
Offering remote or hybrid working options, gaming company Electronic Arts, is looking for an Experience Designer Tech 1 – Madden Gameplay to work on games related to the EA Sports brand. You’ll partner with producers, UI artists and engineers to produce detailed wireframes, flowcharts, prototypes and other product deliverables to communicate product requirements, ensuring UX consistency across the product. You’ll need five-plus years’ of experience in product design or user experience design along with a Bachelor’s degree in UX, psychology, human factors or industrial engineering.
If you’re excited about continuous learning and a culture of automation, look to leading technology and national security solutions company Northrop Grumman which is adding to the team with specific opportunities for an Electromechanical Engineer. As well as possessing a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in mechanical/aerospace engineering or closely related STEM field with a minimum of two years’ experience, and have a fundamental understanding of heat transfer, mechanics of materials, and vibration. Worth noting that applicants must be US citizens with the ability to obtain a security clearance.