With all the recent technological advances society has to offer, working across different time zones has become a relatively accepted and manageable practice.
This doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for confusion and dissatisfaction, however, and so excellent project management is needed. Here are our top tips for making all those disparate circadian rhythms work in unison.
1. Plan accordingly
Clear communication is one of the pillars of successful teamwork, but what happens when opportunity for regular discussion is limited? One solution is to try to have individuals or teams in separate locations work on self-contained activities. This means assigning clearly defined responsibilities prior to the project’s get-go.
2. Have a common clock
Switching between different time zones in your correspondence is a sure-fire path to confusion. Agree on a master time zone for everyone to work from (e.g. Central European Time) and stick to it. Some people still like to note their colleague’s local time alongside the master, which is fine as long as you get the time difference right. Use a reliable site like timeanddate.com to avoid slip-ups.
3. Be reasonable
5 a.m. briefings or midnight emails are likely to grate if experienced repeatedly so make sure communication and deadlines are organised on a fair and/or alternating basis. If a meeting or call needs to be at a set time each week, make sure it’s arranged for a time that’s mutually acceptable, even if that means some people having to divert from their usual routine.
4. Use it to your advantage
If managed well, dovetailing between different time zones can be an effective strategy for stretching out the workday. For example a team working on a draft or project outline in London are well placed to hand over to someone five hours behind in New York for reviewing or final touches. Again, it all rests on strong planning and organisation.
While splitting teams or organisation between time zones may feel like a challenge at times, remember there is help at hand. From DropBox, to Google Plus, Skype and various project management tools, there is technology out there designed specifically for this type of work environment, so don’t be afraid to use it.