As your company grows, you might find yourself expanding to more locations, often across different time zones. Without a strategy in place, this can lead to inefficiency, miscommunication and lower performance. Here are 5 of our tips for managing your staff across time zones.
Communicate and clarify
Good communication is key for any business, and this need is heightened when you are communicating across different locations and time zones. Making sure that employees in various locations are in the know and on the same page comes down to clear communication. Expectations should also be discussed and clarified on a regular basis. This is particularly important when working hours are not all the same, as it allows employees to be more productive and efficient–rather than having to wait around for clarification during work hours that might not overlap with management.
As your business expands, going virtual becomes a necessity. In addition to video and phone meetings, it is important to establish a 24/7 tool that employees can utilize to keep in touch and share information and files. Even if everyone is not on the same work schedule, relevant information is constantly updated and available to view–when convenient for each individual person.
There is no shortage of virtual communication tools these days, so be sure to take advantage of the ones that work best for your team. The ones we use the most include Slack, Zoom and Dropbox.
Consistency is helpful when attempting to unify teams across time zones. Establishing a consistent meeting schedule makes it easier for employees to be present and encourages greater engagement. We recommend choosing times that best accommodate the most employees, or consider alternating the meeting times to favor each location. This ensures that everyone across locations feels appreciated and accommodated.
Either way, the key is to remain as consistent as possible with your communication schedule–as this will contribute to a more stable and successful company overall.
As important as consistency is, you also need to remain flexible when managing people in different time zones. According to the Balance, “flexibility on the job includes the willingness and ability to readily respond to changing circumstances and expectations.” Having employees in multiple time zones creates a need for compromise and flexibility–in regards to working hours and communication style. Cultural differences may also come into play and should be addressed from the beginning, in order to find common ground and decrease the chances of miscommunication.
Meet in person
Nothing can quite take the place of bringing your employees together IRL, and it is certainly worth the investment. Technology makes it possible to run a business in multiple locations throughout the world; however, it is vital not to forget the importance of meeting in person. At the very least, we suggest an annual get-together in one location. This will contribute to building a stronger and more cohesive team.
Additionally, we recommend including both professional and social activities when organizing these in person meet-ups, in order to foster a collaborative work environment and promote your company culture. Think strategy during the day and informal, social time in the evening.