Whether you realize it or not everyone is affected by time zones. Some people are directly impacted through work. For others, it just affects the time of the Monday night game. But time zones really shouldn’t have that great of an impact on our daily work.
Working from home and working for someone in a completely different time zone has zero impact on my work. Personally, I think it makes me more effective. I always see myself as having more time to get things done. Being three hours ahead of my client allows me to get more tasks done during early morning hours. The work that needs attention during “normal” business hours in their time zone, I just save for later in the afternoon.
You may be thinking sure that sounds great in theory, but what happens when your client contacts you during your non-working hours? This can happen because it is still normal business hours for them. I take the glass half full approach. I respond to my client acknowledging that I have received their message or assignment. Then I let them know that I will get it completed first thing in the morning. Nine times out of ten that solution works because first thing in my morning, my client is still sleeping. When they wake and start their day, the completed task will be in their inbox ready to go. Now in the very rare case that they need it completed immediately, I get it done as soon as I can.
But, there are still a few key factors that make working together in different time zones possible.
Communication – In all relationships communication is key and that is especially true with virtual relationships spanned across times zones. Make sure you set a specific day and time once or twice a week to check in and regroup with one another. If you or the other party know that the specific meeting time won’t work that week make sure you offer to reschedule to a different time so that you don’t go weeks without communication. This weekly check-in will clear up any questions, allow you get to know one another, and give you a sense of team and continuity when working together.
Guidelines – You and your client need to set specific work guidelines that work for you and them. This way there will be no misunderstanding when they contact you and you’re at your child’s school play. The same goes for them. My client enjoys their mornings and really wants things scheduled for late morning or afternoon. I also know that if I need to reach them for something urgent text messaging works way better than email. My client’s inboxes tend to be flooded hourly with emails and things can go unseen. Having guidelines will elevate stress and frustration down the road and make for a better work relationship.
Time Zone Tracker – If you are still not convinced about working with someone in a different time zone, then consider the many tools available that help track times zones. They can make you feel more prepared and comfortable. Every Time Zone allows you to mark the time zones so that you always know your client’s time zones.
World Clock Meeting Planner – The main reason we care what time zone people are in is to schedule meetings or plan the best time to contact them. This tool allows you to plug in the city and day where the person you need to meet with is. It then suggests the best times for the two of you to meet and breaks the time down further.
Time Zone Converters – There are many free time zone converters. All you have to do is use Google or another search engine. This is a quick and efficient way to triple check the time zone in a pinch.
There are many tools that will help you fight your time zone fears. Read this article 15 Beautiful Tools For Managing Time Zone Differences from I Done This Blog. It should give you more tools that will make you more comfortable working across time zones.