In today’s global work environment, we often have to adjust our work schedules to fit in with different time zones.
It can be a serious challenge to adjust our body clocks as we continue to travel internationally for work, as well as having to deal with colleagues both ahead of and behind us in time.
While there are many different ways to cope with time zone differences, here are five tips to consider when working with people from various corners of the globe:
1. Maintain Regular Check-Ins
While it can be difficult to enforce an exact time at which all concerned are available, scheduling a regular check-in can help to keep everyone on the same page. Collaborative platforms allow for easy task assignment regardless of time zone, but connecting in the same time and space, even digitally, can go a long way in ensuring that there is a consistent workflow. This can require a lot of forward planning but with a variety of digital tools to facilitate cross-continent communication, it’s really just a matter of making the time to connect.
2. Stay Connected
Keeping everyone on the team connected, regardless of the platform, is essential to breaking down any potential barriers caused by distance. Being aware of everyone else’s time zone, and work preferences, can also prevent anyone from having to wake up at 2am on the other side of the world to deal with a crisis. WhatsApp and Telegram groups, for example, are a very easy way to keep a large number of people in the know, although it does help to have a clear focus for each group to avoid being inundated with messages when you’re trying to be productive.
3. Plan Your Day to Suit Different Time Zones
While time zones can cause frustration when trying to get something done urgently, it can also work to your advantage when dealing with clients who are behind in time. With this awareness in mind, it can mean that you are able to get more done in advance, and always stay on top of deliverables with the knowledge that you’ve got some time to play with. However, working with people who are ahead in time can present a different kind of challenge, as you’ll have to plan your work in advance to make sure that you can meet deliverables.
4. Implement Work Cycles
We all have our individual preferences for when we work and are most productive. In a global team, however, it can often be difficult to stick to a regular schedule when everyone works according to a different rhythm and there are urgent matters to address. Instead of trying to cater to all time zones at once, many multinational companies have implemented work cycles into their business structure, which means that someone picks up where another has left off and the workload is thereby shared across the globe.
5. Be Clear about Expectations
It can be challenging enough to motivate a team that works together in the same place, so managing a team that works thousands of kilometres away from each other can be very stressful if expectations are not clearly defined. While task lists, messages and collaborative platforms are useful in making sure that everyone is held accountable, this is the only way to ensure that everyone is doing what they need to do via whatever digital or non-digital means is the most appropriate.