Working remotely isn’t a stranger to the business world. Though it used to be an old friend you saw every once in a while, the pandemic made you see them more often, in an ironic twist.
This work arrangement is also beneficial, especially in terms of efficiency. You can operate the business during extended hours or even around the clock and have multiple sources for multilingual communication. This allows you to accommodate more clients and provide them with more options for communication, creating a more positive customer experience.
But as always, there will be downsides. The number one roadblock is not only the distance, but also the time zones, which can be tricky when it comes to scheduling. Another is the participation or presence of the team members, and then task dissemination.
However, leading will always be full of challenges. This one is no different. To help nudge you in the right direction, here are some tips on how to manage teams across time zones.
Team Management Tips For Working With Different Time Zones
- Technology is your friend. Use collaboration tools.
The number one advice for managing teams in different time zones is to use the tools at hand, namely technology and all its wonders. With the milestones it has achieved throughout the years, distance is only a minor worry.
There are a number of collaboration tools you can use to create virtual workspaces you and your team can use in place of a physical one. Applications like Slack and Trello are great for task management and asynchronous communication.
Use cloud-based applications like Google Suite or Microsoft 365 for better documentation and data integrity. You can also control who can and cannot access the files. Multiple people can even work in the same workspace at the same time for maximum efficiency.
One more helpful tool is to use a time zone management application to sync up your and your team’s calendars. If you didn’t know there was one such app–well, now you do.
- Regular and effective communication.
Communication is essential in managing a team, especially in customer service. But with different time zones, scheduling meetings can be tricky. You risk alienating some of the team members, causing dissatisfaction and workplace discord.
To remedy this, arrange regular meetings, but at varying times. The times depend on the time zones you’re working with; some will have to deal with time inconveniences one way or another. With this kind of arrangement, there is less possibility of excluding someone, and it won’t always be the same person who will be inconvenienced by the timing.
And during a meeting, it would be appropriate to acknowledge the presence of those not physically in the room. Even if they are present, the communication channel tends to lessen their presence, and they cannot physically signal that they want to say something. even more so for your recent hires. So, pay equal attention to your team members.
Then set up one on one meetings to check on their work and welfare as well. After all, there are some things that are better discussed behind closed doors. Record every task and maintain accurate documentation so that other members of the team can easily pick them up.
- Set clear objectives and expectations.
Set up a system and a role for each of the team members. Discuss who will do what, where something goes, who is at the start of the process, and who is the endpoint.
Then, using the tools at your disposal, you can disseminate the objectives and expectations you have set for the team. No matter the distance, the rest of the team can regularly track and be updated on the progress of tasks.
Clear up the schedules. Double check that everyone’s calendars are synced, they know the objectives, and they understand the expectations.
- Set one official timezone.
It has already been mentioned that you can synchronize your time zones with an application; however, it is of the utmost importance that you select a single time zone as your default. This is because synchronizing your time zones with an application can be complicated. Maintaining adherence to an official time zone makes it simpler to schedule events, even with the assistance of various tools.
- Keep in mind all the possible cultural differences.
When working with overseas teams, chances are you’ll encounter different social norms. It’s not something you can control or force your team to change.
One of the best things you can do to keep the workplace inclusive and friendly is to be understanding and open-minded. These cultural differences can bleed into many aspects of your team member’s life, whether it is the way they speak, their clothes, their ideas, and many more.
So, know your employees. During the onboarding process, ask them about their culture, practices, and even holidays you have to take note of.
This can help with employee retention and even boost work satisfaction, leading to better work quality. Thus, better service and satisfied customers result.
- Words of affirmation can work wonders.
A “thank you” goes a long way. Show your appreciation for team members and for their efforts in fulfilling the objectives and expectations. Thank them for attending meetings despite inconveniences.
Affirmations also apply to being understanding. Show empathy when addressing their concerns, not just on a cultural level but on a personal level.
- Socialize and Find Time For Some R&R.
We all know about the saying about being all work and no play. The same should be said about managing your teams.
How do you build better rapport with your team? Well, socialize, of course.
It shouldn’t be all about work. Casual chats also lead to better communication and understanding, and you get to know more about your team members.
And if budget allows it, arrange an occasional meetup and spend some time together. For a cost-effective solution, have a get-together through video calls or any other kind of communication channel. Watch and react to a movie together, invite them to celebrate with you on a special occasion, or just simply hang out and share stories.
It’s not always easy to collaborate with others. Distance and different time zones only serve to make things more difficult. You need to be good with people and also be capable of managing the tasks that they are responsible for.
The effort, however, is well worth it considering all of the benefits that come with working remotely, both for the experience of the customer and for the efficiency of the work.