Business is no longer a local game. The internet allows businesses and freelancers to work with clients from around the globe. While that comes with massive opportunities to tap into bigger markets, it also comes with several challenges.
In this article, we will focus on the significant challenge of streamlining communication in different time zones to optimize international business. We will share some practical tips on how to manage projects and people effectively.
Implement Schedules That Are Synchronized
This tip is for clients and people working on your team. If you have either these scenarios present in your operations, it is best to reach an agreement on particular meeting times and adhere to it.
For example, with clients, let them know that you can meet weekly or monthly (depends on the project needs) at a specific time. You might want to make the time convenient for them, even if you have to stay up late or wake up a little earlier.
If your goal is to streamline your team, then it is best to decide on a time zone and set all meetings and deadlines according to the same time zone every time.
As more people are moving into remote schedules and working from home, it is not very hard to coordinate and find a middle ground. Everyone is in charge of making their own schedules, so it should not be a problem.
Keep some basic guidelines in mind. If you are in the US and your client is in Europe, you should probably count on speaking with them on a set schedule, which is after 3 pm your time.
The great thing about technology is that you usually do not have to worry about your calendar or their calendar showing the right time. Google Calendar, for example, will adjust automatically.
Remember to keep everything clear and in your communication only refer to one time zone, either your or theirs.
Do Not Forget Daylight Saving Time (DTS) Changes
DTS is a tricky one. Not only do we tend to forget each year that it happens, but the day also is never the same. Moreover, DTS in Europe and DTS in the USA takes place on different dates.
Then, of course, you might have clients or team members who work in DTS free zones.
The easier solution is to spend a few minutes and note down when DTS happens for your clients or your team members. The good news is that there are plenty of alerts you can set to remind you of DTS changes in any location you choose.
Use Project Management Tools
Project management software is a game-changer. This software will change the way you communicate with clients and team members.
If you have not used any project management software, you are likely relying on instant messaging, emails, and phone calls. Which works, but it is far from optimized.
There is free and paid software. Some of the most popular are:
There are over 100 highly rated project management tools. We just included some in our pose to get your research going. These tools are globally known, which makes them an easy solution for everyone to use.
It might be best to use one tool for clients and another tool for managing your remote team. Several tools excel in different areas, so do your research and pick accordingly.
Once you get on board with these tools you can expect and all of the following benefits:
User-friendly task delegation
Quick and easy file-sharing
Central storage area
Project management tools eventually start feeling like your ‘virtual office.’ Everything you need to get things done is in one place, and everyone you need to communicate with is a click away.
These tools automatically adjust their setting for time zones as well, so they are a great help when you are trying to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Use Time Zone Apps
You certainly do not want to do math daily and look up the time difference from here to there.
Even if you are good at math, you can easily make a mistake. Also, if you make a simple mistake of adding an extra hour….poof, you missed the meeting!
There are many fantastic time zone apps you can install on your phone, so you never have to worry about this.
Check out any of the following:
Every Time Zone
Meeting Planner Time Zone App
The Time Zone Converter
Learn How to Structure a 24-Hour Work Day
We certainly do not mean that you will never sleep and that you will be working 24 hours a day,
But working with international clients, and having team members spread around the globe will undoubtedly bring a ‘new normal’ into play.Depending on what type of business you have, you might need to have people on your team from every time zone to make sure everything runs smoothly. Alternatively, you might need to schedule three shifts for your local team.
If you are selling products online, then you might need to live customer support available around the clock. Generally, it is best to outsource customer service to wherever your customers are located.
Set Some Boundaries
It is extremely easy never to switch off and always be working when you are dealing with a global operation. You cannot do this for long, though. You will burn out.
You owe it to yourself and family to switch off, place work on the side, and spend time enjoying life.
So long that everyone is on the same page, there is no reason to worry.
Make sure your team and your clients know that you are away on that given day, so you are even tempted to respond to messages and emails.
Working with clients and team members from around the world is exciting and full of opportunity.
Navigating the time zone challenge is not as challenging as it sounds. Always try to accommodate your clients and team members to the best of your ability. Do not request super early or super late meetings.
Enjoy your international adventures!