Tips For Working With Teams in Different Timezones

Gimena Aguerreberry
May 13, 2021

If you've ever experienced jetlag, you can thank timezones for the feelings of fatigue. But, you should realize that air travelers aren't the only victims.

Professionals who work with teams in different countries must also deal with time zones. They have to figure out a way to coordinate various schedules on top of their already busy itinerary.

Of course, you can avoid time zone delays by working with people near home. However, everyone can still collaborate and schedule meetings across several time zones with these tips.

Choose the Right Team From the Get-Go

When you want to produce exceptional work, you outsource. Hiring an offshore team can give you access to the talent you need that might not be close to you.

Unfortunately, your offshore team might be halfway around the world, and it can be tough to coordinate meetings.

So, when you outsource, you want to eliminate these challenges from the get-go as much as you can. One preventative measure to take is choosing a nearshore company. You'll still get top talent and cost savings, just in a closer time zone. It'll be much easier to work with your new partners without disrupting everyone's schedule.

Establish a Team Agreement

Even if you work with a team that is only one time zone away, you still need to be intentional about your partnership. An excellent starting point is establishing a team agreement.

This document doesn't have to be anything fancy. But it should cover everything all members could need to know about your collaboration. This way, expectations are clear and available for reference.

When creating your team agreement, ensure you get input from team members of both parties. The document could cover essential information such as:

  • Which time zone everyone should talk in

  • Which collaboration tools your in-office and remote employees should use

  • Expected response times

  • How everyone will share files (Google Drive, etc.)

  • The project management hierarchy (who reports to who, etc.)

Develop Awareness of Time Zones

As a member of a dispersed team, you need to develop an awareness of time zones. Realize that your remote employees aren't operating when you are.

By adopting an empathetic approach, you will prevent misunderstandings and work more efficiently with your remote teams. Time zone visualization websites like can help you adjust thinking in multiple time zones.

Create a Shared Calendar

When you need everyone to meet, it's easy to drop a time/date in your communication channel. But, when your employees work remotely, it's a recipe for disaster. Some people will forget, and those who remember may put it on their own calendars using the wrong time zone.

Your best bet is to create a shared calendar for your distributed team.

Collaboration tools like Google Calendar allow everyone to view and add events, mitigating the risk of misunderstandings. The calendar is also the perfect spot to add other crucial information such as deadlines.

Schedule Meetings

Consistent meetings are crucial to the success of a distributed team. They go beyond your communication channel by being much more comprehensive and allowing team members to ask questions, build relationships, etc. With consistent meetings, you'll clear things up and make project management more efficient.

While consistent meetings are essential, don't just schedule them for the heck of it. Time is precious to global teams, so use it wisely. Make every second count and only discuss what's relevant.

Use Overlap to Your Advantage

In most cases, global teams will have at least an hour or two of overlap during their normal business hours. Use this overlap to your advantage by scheduling meetings or otherwise collaborating during it.

Record Video Calls

Even when you have consistent meetings, you should record your video calls. Remote employees can rewatch the video calls, preventing the need for other team members to constantly fill them in.

Meet Face-to-Face

It's not always possible, but especially when you work with a nearshore software development company, you should try to meet up in person. A face-to-face team meeting can have significant impacts on morale and communication.

Keep Things Fair

Throughout all of your proceedings, try to keep things as fair as possible. Tensions might start to build if your remote employees constantly have to give up their early morning sleep to attend meetings.

As per usual, communication is key to preventing problems. Ask everyone what their preferences are — you might realize that they line up perfectly. If not, you can adjust accordingly to at least no one is always getting the short end of the stick.

The Bottom Line

Thanks to globalization, you no longer have to settle for local talent. Technology lets us scope out and collaborate with the best global teams the world has to offer. However, working with people in several time zones brings inevitable problems to work out.

Keep these tips in mind if you decide to partner up with collaborators in different time zones, but remember that you can also work with people in the same time zone remotely through nearshore services. A nearshore company can help you outsource important tasks to people in the same time zone with fewer hiccups.

"Tips For Working With Teams in Different Timezones" by Gimena Aguerreberry is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez.

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