Managing Teams Across Different Time Zones



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There are pros and cons that come when you have staff members working in different areas of the world. Managing teams across various time zones can be challenging when it comes to maintaining organization and engagement, though it comes with so many pros, the upsides of having diverse teams across the globe makes it worthwhile.

Vernon O’Donnell, senior VP of data operations at STATS, notes that people like working for global companies as it not only makes them feel as if they’re connected to something bigger, it provides exposure to global practices to enhance their careers. With staff on various continents, it also brings different points of view and new ideas to solutions.

The key is knowing how to best manage teams across different time zones.

Take Advantage of Communication Tools

One of the most important things you can do is to take advantage of the many communication tools available today thanks to modern technology. As former CEO Andrew Miller of Polycom has spoken of time and again in interviews and keynote addresses, collaboration is key, communicating through the use of video conferencing as well as instant message apps and other tools is a must for successful long distance working relationships.

Keep an eye out for new collaboration tools as well, with advancing technology bringing better ways to communicate all the time. To date there is no one technology that does everything, so you’ll likely need many for various purposes. Be adaptable when it comes to switching out tools as necessary, even in the moment. If for example, if in one office location the video connection is unstable, you may need to switch to a conference call due to latency in bandwidth. Effective use of technology will help you to create more open channels of communication between you and your teams despite various locations.

Stick to a Consistent Meeting Schedule

It’s important to make sure meeting times are consistent so that remote employees are more easily able to connect. Depending on how many different locations you’re working with and their particular time zones, most likely someone is going to have to sacrifice, but it’s important to have one time where everyone can meet in real-time. While some team members may have to stay up late or wake early, generally that’s a small price to pay for working remotely. Of course, if it isn’t necessary, avoid it.

Having consistent, regular meeting times that include both casual and more formal ways to “meet” helps to foster cohesion among all employees. You may even want to consider a monthly virtual social hour, where everyone across the globe is invited to get to know each other more personally as well.

Plan to Travel at Least Occasionally

When you’re forming a new team in a new location, it’s important to get to know everyone, professionally and personally, which means traveling at least occasionally is a must. It will help develop stronger rapport and allow you to communicate more effectively too. When you’re able to form relationships in personal initially, it’s easier to make remote working relationships more efficient in the long run.