Team Management

How to Better Manage Timezones on Your Distributed Team

Managing a distributed team comes with a number of challenges, one of which lies on the differences of timezone. With your team members working on different timezones, it will be a little difficult to get a number of things done all at once. So to help you handle this challenge better, the following details might come in handy.

The Benefits and Challenges of Different Timezones

Apart from the difficulties that timezone differences might possess, it can also be beneficial to your distributed team, depending on the nature of your work and the demand for manpower availability. First, let’s look at the benefits:

1. You can always have at least one team member available at all times. 
This is essential, especially if your company operates 24/7. With a distributed team, you can always assign a team member a time slot so as to make sure that the team is manned at all times.

2. Your company benefits from fresh perspectives and bright ideas. 
With a diverse team, you can benefit from the new ideas that your team members can bring in. By hearing the different perspectives of your team members, it can help you create better decisions that can be beneficial to the company.

3. You can benefit from a broader recruitment pool. 
You can hire the right person for the job, without having to consider where they may live. Location dependent hiring is becoming more and more challenging. Language and culture considerations may also be appealing for your customers or team. 

Key Considerations

1. Availability, language and culture can become a barrier
Once you decide to work with a diverse team, you should already expect that the differences in life and language can have an impact on the team’s productivity. This is why productivity tools are essential for distributed teams. Setting deadlines that are clear across all timezones are essential. 

Given that you can’t always have everyone available at the same time, you have to make sure that you get to notify everyone of what tasks need to be done during their work hours. On the other hand, if you want everyone to work within the same time frame, this is something that you should clarify even before hiring your team.

2. Communication and expectations must be clear and consistent at all times. 
It’s easy to get lost in translation, especially if your team is made up of people from different places. It is one of your many tasks as a leader to make sure that everyone is clear with what they should do. To get past this hurdle, it’s best to have a project management software in places, such as Trello, Basecamp or Wrike, to help you assign tasks and monitor them.

If you have deliverables, make sure to clarify every single detail and expectation that you have so that you can avoid misunderstandings. If you want your team to work together or be available during the same time at least once a week, or if you need frequent updates from them, these are some things that you should always clarify when assigning tasks.

A distributed team will require your constant guidance. Timezones can sometimes be burdensome, but it should not stop you from helping your team prosper and be productive. By knowing what you are up against and by implementing the right tools and techniques, you can get past this challenge without breaking a sweat!