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Remote Working & Time Zones

Remote Working Across Multiple Time Zones: Best Practices 

Time zones can be trickier and sometimes confusing. There have been attempts to redefine time zones to make them uniform for everyone around the world, but a consensus is still elusive. In general, everyone who needs to be aware of time zones understands it and these days digital apps and tools help manage it seamlessly.

But, time zones become cumbersome when coordinating a remote team that’s dispersed across the globe where the teams from different regions - say colleagues in the USA, India, and England -  have to meet, talk, and collaborate. The challenge here is to figure out a convenient time for a work meeting with teammates from regions lying in varying time zones. Calendar tools come to help in such situations by giving a comprehensive view and bringing a consensus on the time suitable for all the participants.

 

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Collaboration among employees located in different time zones has now become a new normal. This allows companies to work 24 hours a day enabling the availability of the top-notch talent anytime, anywhere, in the world to help teams meet deadlines without needing overtime or multiple shifts. In other words, remote working teams can achieve more work without compromising quality and missing deadlines if the suitable collaboration and communication processes and tools are in place.

We will go over how remote working across various time zones can be carried out in the best way possible.

How to Collaborate Remote Teams Across Multiple Time Zones

The following best practices allow companies with a central corporate office or highly decentralized structure to embrace remote working in their organizations:

1. Establish Team Working hours

In a remote working set up across various time zones, employees expect empathy and respect from the company without feeling forced to work during a time that is not convenient for them. To accomplish this, companies must allow the employees to create their work zones and prefer compatible time zone, in such a manner that the teams’ productivity, creativity, and collaboration are not negatively affected. 

The company and remote teams must respect the preferred work hours of everyone in the team and the equivalent of these time zones in their time zone. The company must provide access to message apps for all teams to update their time zones, off-days, vacation, status updates, etc. to help plan collaboration sessions smoothly. These features can be used when not in the office or online to let team members know they can expect a delay in response. Google calendar or similar tools can help you know the national or religious holidays, festivals, seasons, etc. in the regions where other members are located.

2. Communication and Collaboration Guidelines

Companies that follow remote working must have a well-defined playbook that explains the company communication policies and collaboration tools in place and the employees must be oriented about them during onboarding to let them know what the company expects from the teams. 

The guidelines should include, among others:

  • What and when to use the communication channels and tools. Everyone must use the common channels and tools to keep communications organized and accessible to help an effective collaboration.
  • Likewise, what project management tools to use and when and how should be used for team leads to keep track of teams’ work, assign tasks, add resources, and as well let team members know their responsibilities, help pick up tasks smoothly, and update comments/updates for their team members to take care of them during their shifts. 

3. Asynchronous Communication 

Communication that does not happen in real-time like Email, video recording, project management tools, etc. is a standard process in remote working. In this communication process, teams share offline messages without interrupting the team members allowing them to respond when it is convenient.

You should consider the following elements to enable remote teams to perform well in asynchronous communication:

  • Plan the team collaboration and communication well in advance by considering the work hours of each team and the time differences between the teams 
  • Clearly and explicitly communicate the deadline in your time zone and the equivalent time zones in the location of other teams to avoid confusion
  • Messages must be clear, complete, and concise. All team members should have all information and details that are needed to get started on a task

Providing the team with all information, details, and clarity about the tasks facilitates the team to complete their tasks independently without the need for any help.

4. Synchronous Communication 

Real-time communications like video chats, online meetings, shout-outs, instant messages, etc. are essential elements for team collaboration to deliver the tasks in time with the expected quality. These interactions will help your team collaborate productively. The synchronous communication reflects the essence of your company culture. 

In remote working across different time zones, there are chances that certain employees have to work outside their preferred work hours and time zones because of the time differences. To avoid this, companies adopt a roster system to rotate meeting times between time zones at some frequency, say every month or quarter. This ensures that only a few teams are not always made to sacrifice for team collaboration.

5. Stick to This Meeting Protocol

Too much of meetings, particularly online meetings, are tiring and you should try to follow this protocol when scheduling another meeting:

  • Contemplate if it is really necessary to have a meeting in the first place and the topic warrants the presence of everyone
  • Ask yourself if the information can be conveyed through channels other than online or real-time channels
  • Share the  meeting agenda with all team members in advance for them to have an idea of what’s on the itinerary 
  • Where teams from multiple time zones are involved, it is highly impossible to accommodate everyone in the meetings. One solution for this is to record or take notes during the meeting to share them with those who couldn’t drop in for the meeting

Summing Up

Making collaboration across different time zones happen is painless if you observe the multi-time zone remote working best practices. Following the protocol will enable the teams to contribute well, work harmoniously on tasks with multiple teams, and reach the common goals of the team and company.

Need the best remote talent from anywhere on the globe for your company? Explore Talent as a Service platforms and you will find resources that perform tasks autonomously without the need for any supervision to help your company to the next level.

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