Remote work is probably the best thing that came out of this pandemic. It has made people’s lives easier in many ways, but it comes with a few challenges. One of them being navigating different time zones. 

From meetings to deadlines, if your team is spread out across the world, time zones usually tend to get in the way of productivity. And if you don’t learn how to navigate them properly, things could get tricky. 

My team at Product Gym is spread across the globe and over the last few months of working there, I’ve had to learn how to navigate time zones effectively. When it comes to time zones, I’ve learned there are a lot of important things to keep in mind, like effective coordination and a bit of sacrifice from more than one party.  

But I find that the most important aspect to mastering time zone navigation is planning. 

As an overthinker, planning comes naturally to me and it’s proven to be very helpful since a few of my co-workers live in Asia. That’s about a 15 hour time difference from Guatemala. So we’re not just talking about managing East Coast to West Coast time zones here. 

From delegating tasks to syncing up for meetings; everything takes a bit of extra planning to run smoother. 

For example, when I’m scheduling tasks on Asana to our Graphic Designer who’s located in Asia, I have to schedule everything days ahead because I know when his Tuesday is ending, mine is just beginning. The same goes for reviewing posts. I need to schedule them ahead of time so that I have enough time to review them and he can implement feedback if necessary while he’s still awake. 

It’s a complex mechanism and if you or your co-workers aren’t considerate of each other’s time, there will most likely be a decrease in productivity.  

One thing that helps me stay aware and considerate of other people’s time zones is the world clock on my iPhone, believe it or not. It’s a quick way for me to know the exact time and date of my co-workers. But this is the bare minimum. 

It’s utterly important to keep a calendar with you at all times to be able to schedule meetings and plan ahead. This is helpful even if you’re not dealing with 15-hour time differences! 

Whether it’s delegating tasks, team meetings, or 1-1 meetings; you always want to make sure you pick a (mostly) reasonable time for everyone. I understand that isn’t always possible, especially when the whole team is super spread out. That’s when communication comes into play. 

Check-in with your co-workers and employees to see which time frames work best for them when it comes to deadlines and meetings. And have an honest conversation around how much of their sleeping schedule they’re willing to compromise to make meetings work. You’d be surprised about how much people are willing to sacrifice for a job where they feel passionate about what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. 

If you’re not constantly communicating with each other (which is already a challenge in and of itself) then you won’t be able to pre-plan and pre-schedule. And if you don’t, things won’t run smoothly. So communication is an absolute must. Make it a priority if it isn’t already.

Once you find a schedule that works for the team: be it meetings, deadlines, or tasks; everything will start running relatively smoothly and everyone will get into a work routine that works for them. This might take weeks or even months. It all depends on your team’s willingness to collaborate and ability to be considerate towards others. 

Time zones can make or break a company if not handled well. So make it a priority to learn how to navigate them. It’s a challenge, but it’s not impossible. 

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