Remote working has increasingly become common, with businesses discovering that worldwide teams can be incredibly beneficial for an organization's culture and ability to hire from a diverse talent pool. Remote working has given companies access to a massive pool of talent that can be hired from anywhere in the world. The diverse set of talent accessible to businesses can provide a new and unique set of ideas.
Of course, this fresh access to talent only works successfully if a company can manage employees scattered across the world. In a recent article, Gartner has stated that by 2022, 75% of companies with diverse frontline decision-makers will surpass their financial targets. Technology has managed to advance far enough to allow companies to hire overseas since employees are no longer required to work in a single location or at the same time.
If business leaders fail at managing their employees working remotely from various locations around the world, it can lead to difficulties in the growth of a business. It can disengage the workforce and reduce work productivity. Remote working environments can cause a sizable communication gap between employees, Which leads to issues in developing relationships among employees.
To have your teamwork successfully while under different time zones, companies need to concentrate on developing excellent company culture and remove the barriers that are caused due to differences in time zones. If your remote working staff is incapable of remaining on the same wavelength, there is a good chance that your remote employees will become frustrated and cause disorganization. That will eventually cause people to become disconnected and potentially leave the company.
If you are thinking about hiring people outside your time zone and want to retain those valued employees, you need to make sure that you manage their respective time zones and make them feel appreciated. While it may seem hard, it can be easily managed. It takes an exceptional leader with organizational skills to effectively manage a remote team. Here how you can oversee different employee's time zones in a remote environment.
When it comes to working across varying time zones, managers need to place their trust in remote employees. Every one of these employees needs to be competent to work under minimum supervision and handle their time efficiently. However, not every person you onboard is going to be the ideal remote employee. This is why managers need to be careful when it comes to putting a remote team together.
Take the time to hire reliable and professional individuals who are self-managed and self-motivated. That hire should be willing to remain flexible when necessary to sync with team members and complete a project.
Communicate time zone boundaries
With your employees located far away from each other and the company office, it can be challenging to decide on proper meeting times. Furthermore, it could be tempting to find yourself saying no to specific time meets and suggest other times instead, since these meetings could be scheduled outside your usual working hours.
That said, it is necessary to mark your standard working hours in a team calendar along with your time zone. Doing so will prevent any confusion from occurring or request for meetings during awkward times. The remote team should also follow your example and label their working hours and time zones. That way, confusion about work availability is prevented. Using management tools that display the timeline with crucial time zones can assist with keeping track of work schedules and updates.
Furthermore, managers need to be specific with time zones when setting up schedules for meetings, deadlines, or any project discussion. That assists your remote team in other areas of the world to adjust the outlined time zone with theirs. Managers who do not clarify their expected time because of time zone boundaries will have problems on their hands. It will lead to confusion on due dates, meeting times and potentially damage the remote working strategy.
Establish asynchronous communication
Asynchronous communication is an excellent way for managers and remote employees to be mindful of different time zones. It needs to be established that not every communication attempt is going to happen synchronously, and it's up to you to take the pressure aware from people living in different time zones of having to always be on call in case of someone messaging them.
A remote team that manages to achieve asynchronous communication can be remarkably beneficial when it comes to working on projects with people in varying time zones. This type of communication method can make everyone take some time to step back before messaging a colleague. It also places extra consideration into their written communication to account for the gap between replies.
Set clear expectations
Since it is not possible to always remain on and manage your remote team in real-time, it is necessary to clarify your expectations from your workforce at the very start. Scheduling and assigning a list of tasks during the beginning of each week gives your remote employees a chance to analyze the target work beforehand. If they encounter any issues, a suitable time can be decided on for a meeting to discuss them. Hence, setting weekly goals can help keep the workflow seamless, irrespective of varying time zones.
Check of overlaps
Take some time to make sure you know the times when your remote team members are available. Even if you have a sizable time difference, you can always discover at least two-hour of overlap daily to keep everyone in concurrent.
For instance, if half of your remote team is located in the US and the other half in Europe, you can still have some hours of overlap between the two remote teams. The team that is based in San Francisco could be online from 10 AM to 12 AM, while the team in London is from 6 PM to 8 PM. The San Francisco team could explain their task for the day, and the Londoners can discuss what they did during the mornings.
It is up to the company to decide how many hours a remote team needs to overlap to remain in sync and feel closer to each other. While it may seem challenging, it is essential to have an overlap. These overlaps can be used to hold necessary meetings, daily standup, and video conferences to maximize your remote team productivity. Chances are, the overlap may require your remote employees to make some sacrifices, but it’s necessary.
Time zone management tools
Depending on how scattered your remote team is, it could be strenuous to remember what time it is in certain areas of the world. Think about it, do you remember how far ahead Amsterdam is to Los Angeles?
To not waste any more time attempting to figure out how time zones work and converting time, you should consider setting up some time zone management tools. Time zone management tools are an excellent way to know which employee has already headed off to bed and which one is available for communication.
There are several of them to choose from, and they all come with some fascinating features. One of these is Timezone.io. It’s an excellent tool that comes with an easy-to-use user interface. It visualizes which cities your remote employees are in at the moment and see the local times in those cities in chronological order.
Attempt for less urgency
It can come off as inconsiderate on your part if you are not respecting your remote employee's off-hour value. If it is not necessary, try to avoid sending out any urgent work emails to your employees while they are off working hours.
During the time you are sending out emails or assignments, make sure that the time matches the receiver's hours before doing so. Taking a moment to plan ahead of time and maintain a worklist according to urgency should help you handle task deadlines, despite the current gap in time zones. However, emergencies can be considered an exception, as both parties should understand the need of the hour for a company's workflow.
Set some time for new employees
When it comes to a traditional physical office environment, it is much easier for a newly joined employee to adapt to the working culture. That is mainly due to other team members guiding them as they adjust to the climate. However, when it comes to a remote working environment, you need to dedicate some time to help the newly hired employee understand and adapt to a remote culture. Letting them get to know their fellow employees with icebreakers and team bonding activities are excellent ways to help them adjust over time.
Working from different time zones can lead to many issues along the way, and it will require some sacrifices from your remote employees. There will be times when someone needs to remain up later than usual for team meetings. Other times, they may need to wake up earlier than normal. To prevent potential burnout in your employees, attempt to switch meeting times weekly and make them more convenient for your remote team.
Another option is to have two different meetings in one day at two various times, so everyone has a chance to join. These meetings can also be recorded and captioned to ensure any team member that did miss out on them can still receive that essential information.
Time Zones are a subject that every business leader needs to remain highly aware of when dealing with remote working. It is something that will severely impact the productivity levels of your team and company. If you want to ensure your remote teams remain in tip-top shape, then you need to keep these tips in mind. Make sure you take careful consideration of everyone's different availability hours.