Tips for Working in Multiple Time Zones Around the Globe

Working well with a team and clients distributed worldwide can open up doors for your company and help you scale.

With the rise in popularity of remote work and virtual assistance, managing working across multiple time zones has become par for many companies. Statistics show that 16 percent of companies with global operations are fully remote, meaning their employees may often have to consider time zones before settling into work with clients or colleagues for the day.

Juggling different time zones can be challenging, but it is certainly not impossible. Working well with a team and clients distributed worldwide can open up doors for your company and help you scale and reach new heights of success if you are a startup.

Here are some tips for working in multiple time zones with a global workforce:

1. Be Open to Both Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication

When time zones are an issue, companies must be open to communicating synchronously and asynchronously. Synchronous communication is in direct, real-time contact with people, such as through a live video conferencing call. Companies must set up this type of communication considering everyone’s time zones. For example, a call happening at 4 pm EST (Eastern Standard Time) may work well for some but count 13 hours ahead for people who may be on GMT+9 (Japan Standard Time) time in Japan, and you’re asking them to pop in at 5 am. Embracing asynchronous communication is critical to successfully managing a workforce in different time zones. This may mean that live, real-time meetings happen less frequently, but it does mean that everyone can participate on their own time and when it is most convenient for them.

2. Give Workers Time to Adjust (Especially with the Graveyard Shift)

If your business guarantees 24/7 support, someone will work when others are sleeping, otherwise known as the “remote graveyard shift.” Though those “graveyard shift” workers may be in an area of the world where it’s daytime, if you are on an opposite schedule from them across the globe, it can be challenging to manage those workers.

The right tools, software, and scheduling approaches can help ease the pain points of opposite time zones and graveyard shift employee schedules. Having management or points of communication in those opposite time zones can help address any issues that may arise while the rest of the company is asleep. It can also help to have monitoring software that will let people create schedules, log the work they are performing, or create help tickets that can be addressed when the plans shift.

Companies must give their remote workers time to adjust to working in multiple time zones. It is a blessed that there will be some hiccups along the way. After all, there are 24 time zones globally. That’s a lot of different times to coordinate.

3. Encourage Team Building

When a part of your team works in a one-time zone, and the rest are in another, it can be challenging to feel like you’re all in this together. Companies should prioritize having team-building activities, such as calls where you all gather to discuss non-work-related things or any issues that may arise. Planning yearly in-person events can even be an option with large enough companies with the financial means to make that happen.

Teams that are scattered amid different time zones promote diversity and a myriad of ideas and schools of thought. This diversity can work to build a strong team foundation for companies.

4. Set Strong Boundaries & Strong Schedules

All remote workers, whether they all work within the same time zone or are spread throughout the globe, need to have a robust set of boundaries and know how to schedule well. Managers and HR leaders must clarify that time zones should be considered when scheduling meetings. Team members need to set their boundaries as well. Strong boundaries help companies retain talent, promote productivity, and build trust within the team.

Time-blocking is also essential. Many tools are available to help remote workers block their time and schedule around multiple time zones. Simple tools such as time zone calculators can help avoid snafus in scheduling. When leaders respect the time and schedules of their workers, they build a more robust remote working environment.

There are many positives to remote work and a global workforce. It can be complicated working with the various time zones. However, companies can navigate this winding road successfully. With time and attention given to scheduling, space for employees to acclimate to this working environment, and firm boundaries, remote workspaces across various time zones can be advantageous for companies and employees.

Shiela Mie Legaspi
Shiela-Mie Legaspi is the President of Cyberbacker, the leading provider of world-class administrative support and virtual assistant services from anywhere in the world to anyone in the world. Legaspi empowers growth-minded business owners with world-class, economic leverage to fulfill their greatest purpose. She is an expert in career coaching and teaches others how to lead with integrity, purpose, and passion.