Time zones can be tricky. Even after all the efforts that have been put into reinventing time zones, people still couldn’t reach a universal agreement on the topic. While it isn’t much of a problem for people who understand the time zones in their region, it can get trickier when you are working on a remote team that’s scattered around the world. For instance, you may have difficulty remembering what time it is for your colleague in India and another in Germany.
Remote teams and employees in different time zones are becoming increasingly popular. This new workforce era brings many benefits, from flexibility for employees to the geographical extension of talent for businesses. However, it isn’t devoid of challenges. Typically, these challenges revolve around a lack of in-person supervision, the existence of silos, and at-home distractions. But beyond these challenges lie numerous benefits.
Here are a few tips for managing workflow across various time zones, so you can efficiently tap into those benefits in a productive and non-intrusive way.
1. Utilize Technologies
As everything happens virtually, the right tools and technology are vital to managing workflow across your remote team. Invest in tools that are best for your teams and specific areas of business, such as client management software or task management platforms. There are a lot of technologies available to manage projects and tasks for teams, so identify the best tools and whether the tools you currently use require an upgrade.
Ideally, you will require a centralized platform or a virtual collaboration tool that allows you to track and manage a project’s status. A great workflow automation tool enables all internal and external parties to stay up-to-date, share materials, and communicate with other team members effortlessly, so it can run smoothly regardless of where your team members are located.
2. Outcomes Over Activities
When managing workflow for remote teams, consider your role more as monitoring than managing. While in-person management allows for a hands-on and real-time approach, managing a remote team from a different time zone does not allow such interactions.
Hence, it is important you accept that your employees will likely set their own ways of working, which will in some ways be out of your hands. Accept this and care more about the outcome of your employees than how that outcome is achieved.
3. Asynchronous Meetings
A great way to disregard the clock and be mindful of the various time zones is by leveraging asynchronous communication. Asynchronous meetings are meetings that do not occur in real-time. Instead, one party records what they want to share, sends it, and then awaits a recorded response or acknowledgment of receipt when the other party gets to it. While it isn’t the best of options for urgent matters, it is an excellent way to get regular updates while seeing the other person’s face.
What’s more, by making it clear that communication won’t happen synchronously, you are taking the pressure away from your remote team to always be “on-call.” These can also be done as email updates or non-recorded formats. The rule of thumb is to give regular updates in an in-person meeting but spread out over a longer time to accommodate time differences.
An asynchronous communication style can be quite beneficial for remote teams working on a single project from various time zones. It makes everyone take a step back before ringing their co-worker and put extra thought into their updates to make up for the communication gap.
4. Create Clear Agendas
As remote teams work somewhat autonomously, it is important you have clear agendas in place. Assign due dates for specific tasks, even if it’s something as small as wanting other opinions on a small piece of text. As you set this deadline, ensure you consider your remote team members and account for the delayed responses due to various time zones.
Set specific deadlines along with descriptions of tasks when you create agendas. Also, make sure your expectations for remote employees are clear to them regarding how they should communicate and execute their roles.
5. Allow Flexibility
When you are working with remote employees or clients in different time zones, flexibility is the key. You won’t turn to them to make conversation or ask a question, which makes it harder to communicate and develop a relationship. To overcome these hurdles associated with remote work, try to have a flexible schedule, at least during specific points of the day.
Additionally, come up with processes that allow for grace periods to accommodate delayed responses. Also, hire employees who can provide the necessary work and don’t require hand-holding or close monitoring.
Master the Time Zone Etiquette
With the market going global, so should your team. The best way to manage your remote team is by making sure you are always in the know of what is happening. If you know the right tips and tricks to manage remote employees effectively, you are already halfway to creating a successful business with your remote workers.