How to work with your remote team across time zones?
In the modern business environment the employers aren’t limited by the geographical location of their company and the local talent pool anymore thanks to the spike of tech development in the past 10-20 years.
People have a chance to be in Kyiv and work for a company in New York, San Paolo or Adelaide no problem. Remote work mode has taken over and given businesses new opportunities, even more so, in the circumstances of a raging pandemic.
Naturally, along with a whole bunch of advantages there are some disadvantages that come with having a team that’s half-way across the world from you and your business. Those disadvantages, however, are possible to overcome and a healthy work balance can be achieved.
What are the pros and cons of working across the time zones?
5 pros of a distributed team
- Hire anywhere in the world
At this point in time, all one needs to be able to work in a non-manual labour job is a computer and a stable internet connection, so you as an employer can find your perfect match of an employee anywhere across the globe and not even worry about creating a physical space for them.
- Boost productivity through freedom
Flexibility has shown to motivate people more than a tight schedule imposed by the employer. This doesn’t mean a total chaos in the schedule of your offshore team, but finding an optimal schedule to work on projects individually and in a group with your offshore team. This creates a calm and positive environment for the team and reduces workplace stress.
- Someone is always online
When your team is scattered around the globe, at least someone is working at any given time and if any issues arise, there’s a good chance they will be solved much faster than if everyone in the company was on the same schedule and a big chunk of the day was a blackout in terms of an online presence.
- Fewer distractions
This way there’s “quiet time” for everybody, when colleagues from different locations are not yet online or have already finished their workday. The majority of people are the most productive in the hours where no one else is there and they’re focusing on their task and experiencing no distractions.
- Productivity value based on actual results
There’s a certain thing called a desk-time trap when the productivity in the office is measured by the amount of time the employees spend at their work desk which in most cases is in no way a realistic indication of productivity.
Even with working remotely, employees can fall into this trap by assuming the “they are logged in, hence they are productive” rule. But working across time zones, there might be no one to actually see if you’re online at a certain time due to the time difference, so the only indication of your productivity becomes actual tangible results you can offer to your team.
6 cons of a distributed team
- No constant collaboration
When your team is sprinkled across the world, sometimes it’s hard to find overlapping times to work on something together. It’s not impossible, it just means that collaboration time will be cut to a couple of hours a day instead of the possibility of dedicating whole working days to collaborative work on something. Discussing flexibility with your team will be a solution to this issue though.
- Meeting time might be off the standard
Stemming from the above-mentioned problem, the disadvantage of working across time zones is that everyone working on a given project will have to agree on team meeting times which will sometimes be outside of a normal 9-to-5 time slot and a little inconvenient for some. Nevertheless, this issue is also easily solved with communication and compromise. Almost no one is ever against flexibility at their workplace.
- It takes more effort to stay in sync
Given that you and your employees won’t have the option of just popping into each others’ offices to check in and get quick updates on everyone’s progress, you and your team will have to make more effort to sync your work and keep everyone informed on the tasks in progress. Thankfully there is a large variety of apps and online tools to help you with this issue.
- Socializing isn’t as natural
Everybody is familiar with the problem of text message misinterpreting and how everyone reads messages and even emails in their own way in their head which often leads to misunderstanding and even conflicts.
Video calls have solved some of those issues and given us a chance to communicate live despite our geography, but it’s still isn’t as natural as just talking face to face. So, the online interaction might take some adjusting and extra effort, but recent experience with quarantine has shown, people adapt fast.
Plus, there are more and more teambuilding activities created specifically for remote teams that will help you soften the socializing issue.
- Some work can be overlooked
If your remote communication system is not well-established yet and the way your team reports on their tasks and results isn’t fine-tuned, some of your employees’ work might get lost in the general flow of information dumped on you as an employer.
Don’t let this happen by figuring out the best way for your team to update each other on progress, issues and questions right away. Again, there are plenty of tools that can help you in this endeavour.
- Know your time zones
Knowing your time zones when working with a distributed remote team is crucial. You might be in Japan while your developers are somewhere in Eastern Europe and knowing their schedule and the time difference between you is just as important as knowing your own daily agenda.
Based on where each of your departments or teams are, you should have certain expectations of what kind of tasks to deal with at which time of the day and when it’s appropriate to call/email your employees. It’s ok to rely on apps in this, too. Technology has got your back in this.
Balance Between Asynchronous and Synchronous Communications
It’s essential to maintain the balance between interpersonal and text-based communication. Having synchronous communication means that you should conduct calls at least once a week with updates and questions. Asynchronous communication means having a chat (Slack or Telegram) where you give daily updates despite the time gap factor.
Do not go overboard with meetings – limit them to when they’re absolutely necessary, but keep them consistent. Encourage autonomous work on everyone’s part and clear well-written communication.
Make a team calendar
Set certain working hours for international employees and manage them in a team calendar. Share this calendar with all the team members. Everyone across your virtual office should know the time when the exact team member is working to avoid disturbing anyone in their free time.
Project management tools
Take advantage of all the tools available for remote team management. Trello, Asana, Jira, etc. are there to make your remote teamwork effective and easy. You can read more on that in our article on How to Effectively Communicate with the Offshore Development Team for Best Results.
You should be ready to be patient
From technical issues to personal circumstances, hiring offshore means, you have to be prepared to stock up on patience and respect for your employees’ schedule. Communicating your expectations and limits for compromise clearly will be a helpful touch to keeping a good professional relationship.
Discuss the possibility of urgent tasks
Working across time zones requires flexibility not only from you, the employer, but your employees, too. Warn your team that sometimes they will have to be flexible with schedules and participation.
Learn how to work autonomously
Implementing higher autonomy and asynchronous communication can be difficult at first because it’s a switch from the standard way of working for some. But there are more and more companies doing this. Letting your team learn to get work done without help means putting more trust in them and their talent. This increases motivation, boosts productivity and is beneficial for you and the company all around.
Hire offshore software development company
The good news is: you don’t have to struggle with all of the aforementioned on your own. Qubit Labs, an offshore software development company, is here to make the process of hiring developers and maintaining effective collaboration smooth and painless. Qubit Labs can help you manage a remote team by assembling one for you first.
This Ukraine-based software development center offers teams of top-tier developers to join your business remotely and build up your company digitally.
Qubit Labs will also help you establish a stable and efficient system of communication and collaboration with all of your teams, solve issues during the working process and employ all the tools necessary to establish an environment set up for success. We help companies all over the world build offshore software development teams and set examples of easy and cost-efficient outsourcing models for businesses of any kind.