Thanks to technology, working global is the norm. Not only do we sell to customers around the world, even our colleagues can live thousands of kilometres away. While this arrangement offers many benefits – cost savings, scalability, around-the-clock productivity, global talent pool – working across out-of-whack time zones can lead to inefficiencies and frustrations. But if you manage it well, it doesn’t have to be an issue.
Be world clock aware
Do you know what time it is right now in the UK, the Philippines, India, or wherever your overseas colleagues are based? Keeping up with the time zones your organisation operates in is the first step to making sure things run smoothly. Apps and tools such as Every Time Zone and World Time Buddy let you set up locations and toggle to see what time it is in any place at any point in the day. Asking for delivery by EOD when it’s already 8pm where your colleagues are is never going to go down well.
Schedule meetings in advance
When it comes to calls and meetings, finding a convenient time for two or multiple parties can be tricky – especially if there’s more than a couple of hours difference. No one wants to get up early or stay late in the evening but, if you pre-arrange a regular slot and stick to it, it can feel like less of an inconvenience. Before you send the calendar invite, make sure it’s location-based so each person has the correct time and date.
When you have teams working in different time zones, they won’t always be working to the same schedule – even though they might be contributing to the same project. This can make it difficult to have discussions, share information and stay up to speed. To make things easier, consider using collaborative communication tools such as Google Docs or Basecamp as opposed to email. Teams will be able to send requests, share files or contribute to a conversation at a time that’s convenient to them, facilitating workflow.
Consider cultural etiquette
Understanding the little idiosyncrasies of the different countries you’re working in can be extremely useful in ensuring things run smoothly. For example, some cultures expect speed in business, others accept longer processes. Some value small talk, others don’t. If there’s a language as well as a time zone difference, consider cutting back on slang and business jargon which might not translate. Keep things simple and straightforward to avoid any unwarranted confusion.
Connect your finances
It’s not just communication that can be difficult to manage when working across time zones. Staying on top of business finances isn’t easy when money is spread across countries. There’s also things like expenditure in other currencies to consider. Cloud-based accounting software, QuickBooks Online, makes managing multi-currency transactions and businesses simple. Not only does it enable teams to access and update their financial information anytime and from any device, it can also be set up to accept input in any currency.
Working across time zones doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right processes, tools, and awareness in place, you can enjoy all the benefits of a global team, without the unnecessary hassles.