5 Clever Hacks for Working Across Different Time Zones

If you find yourself working from home (or even working in an office at a company that has a distributed workforce) you’re bound to work with people in different time zones at some point.

I’ve dealt with this in my last two jobs and it is becoming quite common.

In this blog post, I want to cover some practical tips I’ve picked up over the years to cope with working with coworkers in different time zones so you can achieve the work-life balance you need.

Tip 1: Schedule your messages in communication apps like Slack 

If you use  Microsoft teams, Slack, or any other messaging app, some allow you to schedule messages to deliver at a certain time.

I’ve used this feature in Slack when working with coworkers in Europe and New Zealand. I like this feature because I find it helps you receive a response a lot quicker.

In my experience, many coworkers seem to send messages to coworkers at 9 to 10 AM local time…as soon as they log on. Scheduling messages to coincide with a local time more appropriate for the recipient is a tip that may get you a few more timely responses. Try it!

No one wants to get bombarded at the end of their workday with a ton of requests…or wake up to a bunch of messages. This could be very stressful and even important requests can get lost in all the noise.

It’s simply a better experience to receive a message when your brain is fresh at the beginning of the workday.

Tip 2: Use Google’s World Clock feature on your calendar

If you use Google’s Calendar you can actually select another time zone that will appear on the left side of your calendar. I found out about this functionality after learning to work with coworkers located in New Zealand as an American.

I use this feature a lot, especially if I’m booking meetings and want to ensure it’s not too early or late for the person in another time zone.

To enable this feature, check out this article

Tip 3: Consider flexible hours

If you are 100% remote, consider working nonstandard hours in your time zone if you are able; it’s much easier to get work done in many collaborative roles. I have several colleagues in California that begin work at 6 am, so they can make 9 a.m. meetings on the East coast.

I’ve even had leaders pull all-nighters in New Zealand at someone’s house just so they could work our own hours and be available.

Tip 4: Use communication tools at the end of each day

At the end of the workday, I try to create a few emails or assign tasks to team members in different time zones. This is a good habit to embrace for information that doesn’t really require face-to-face communication.

10-minute Zoom calls are ideal to help everyone get on the same page, but working across different time zones makes email or messaging apps a better option oftentimes.

You can also create Slack or Teams channels to keep the flow of communication open. Most people create channels named after marketing campaigns, trade shows, or strategic initiatives; it all depends on your team’s preferences.

Tip 5: use project management software to plan out your week

If you manage anyone in a different time zone, it will be important that you plan out tasks or work— This is essential if there is very little overlap of working schedules. Daily standups are pretty common nowadays, but quite difficult for people several hours ahead or behind.

It’s hard to communicate daily priorities if you only have an hour or two of face-time with someone in a different time zone.

My favorite tool is Asana, although Monday.com is a pretty good project management tool for marketers like me.

Let me know in the comments what other tips or advice you have for working with people in different time zones!

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