Make Working Across Time Zones Work for You

Let’s be honest. The thought of taking meetings at 5:00 in the morning or 11:00 in the evening is not a concept many are accustomed to. But the traditional “9-to-5” work schedule is on its way out the window, thanks to smart online meeting tools and an increased focus on hiring the best of the best, no matter where they are in the world.

After working with teams that span the globe, I’ve learned to be flexible when connecting across different time zones. I mean, can you get any more global than team members in offices in Bulgaria, Boston, Houston, London, Australia, Hong Kong, and Germany? Thankfully, building a strong rapport with my global co-workers has been simple since we all use WebEx for video conferencing, reviewing formal presentations over screen share and brainstorming marketing campaigns.

For those who are new to this kind of work arrangement, I’m sharing a few tips that have helped me along the way.

Keep time zones in mind

It seems obvious, but keeping time zones in mind when scheduling meetings with global teams is your best bet. While a meeting at 8:00 p.m. is not too bad in your time zone, it’s not quite fair if this means a 2:00 a.m. meeting for your co-worker. Selecting a good time for everyone can be a logistical pain, so tools like timeanddate.com have been a life-saver for me personally.

Also, keep in mind the different holidays, cultural events and local observances global teammates observe which may affect their availability to meet.

Getting to know you

When teams are local, it’s easy to take a break to connect over a cup of coffee or stop by for a chat about the news of the day. And relationship-building with global teams is just as important.

A team that feels connected almost always works better together. Make some time at the start of your online meetings to share your weekend plans, ask questions about your coworkers’ families or have a quick laugh over a funny video together. Over time, you will form bonds that strengthen your team and understand each other’s work styles better.

Prepare to be flexible

Working with a global team means you should expect to be flexible and accessible. For me, it’s nothing to make strategic decisions from the line at a grocery store using WebEx mobile. At the same time, my co-worker across the country in London could be preparing to share meeting notes after tucking their kids in for the night.

While you do need to be flexible and considerate of others’ availability, making yourself available every moment of the day is not realistic. Blend in block of times to take care of yourself to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Working on a global team can be challenging, but collaborating with talented people from all over the world can also be a very rewarding experience.

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