Best team practices when working across time zones

This is foundational to working in a distributed team spread across time zones where quick check-ins aren’t feasible. Meetings, and other forms of synchronous communication, have their place. This is probably the most obvious challenge of working across multiple time zones, and rightfully so. It can get overwhelming trying to set up a time that works for the entire team.


You don’t want coworkers or employees getting up for a 5 a.m. Consider everyone’s time zone when setting meeting times and try rotating times if needed. If it’s not possible to make meeting times fair for everyone, your best bet could be to rotate the start time so that the same people aren’t inconvenienced every time. On many HubSpot marketing teams, if we schedule a meeting that requires people in other timezones to wake up early or stay up late, we try to be empathetic to those colleagues in some way. While you still want to be cognizant of others’ time zones, setting one official time zone for your company can help alleviate confusion. If each manager is setting meetings according to their own personal time zone, that leaves everyone else scrambling to translate it to their own. Adopting an official time zone means everyone will set and communicate meetings or deadlines with the same time zone, regardless of where they’re located.

Mind the cultural norms

Instead, create a buddy system with a designated point of contact in the different time zones that updates, informs, and gives meeting notes to other team members. Does this need to happen – First, think about whether real-time collaboration is worth the time. Ask yourself, “Does this meeting require a video recording, or can it get emailed?

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While remote work has its benefits, time zone differences can make the employee management difficult without the right tools and processes in place. However, more people than ever before desire to work remotely these days. Therefore, team members working across borders and time zones may become the norm soon.

Make use of virtual coffee meetings

This can leave employees feeling their work is being overlooked, and potentially affect their career advancement as it doesn’t allow enough insight into their effort and contribution. If teams don’t experience any overlap in work hours, there’s bound to be some time wasted as one team is waiting for the instructions or the input from another one, working at a later time. And, as team communication is directly correlated to productive collaboration, it can lead to unnecessary delays, missed messages, and an overall drop in productivity. Diversity and inclusion drive innovation and positively impact overall business targets within remote companies that span across time zones. Understandably, this approach largely supports innovation and ultimately leads to more profit in the long run. In fact, one prediction by Gartner shows that 75% of companies employing diverse decision-making teams can expect to outperform their business objectives in 2022.

best practices for working across time zones

By opening up and express your working hours, your colleagues may also start expressing their preferences. “Remind me” nudges make it easy for you to keep an eye on messages that are incoming during your off-hours so you make sure to reply to messages that come in the next time you’re online. One-off videos and screen captures shouldn’t be the only place that teammates can turn for information and context in real time. Building an internal wiki that documents best practices and processes is critical, and there are a world of tools out there to help including Notion, Confluence, and even Google Drive. If the issue is complex or there are dependencies involved, you might find yourself drafting a paragraph and editing your message for clarity and tone that can get lost in translation. The future of work is remote, which means negotiating different time zones is an inescapable reality.

Benefits of working across time zones

Customer service – Virtual tech support teams often employ global staff for the simple convenience of covering diverse customer demographics across time zones. Sales – Simultaneously, sales teams that heavily rely on social media for lead generation, working across time zones are more likely to employ international teams that operate across time zones. Working during one chunk of the day caters to your timezone, followed by another shift that caters to another team’s timezone, is often called a split shift.

Next, use these suggestions to help your team communicate more effectively while working remotely. Always maintain a discussion regarding work-life balance and communication windows.



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