The Slice

8 Tips to Coordinate Remote Teams in Different Time Zones

June 30, 2023

There are a number of challenges that go along with remote teams in different time zones. With the right tools, processes, and policies in place, though, managing a team across time zones doesn't have to mean endless frustration or interruptions in workflow. Stick with us to take a look at eight tips to follow to help coordinate your team, no matter how many time zones they're signing in from.

When you open up your hiring to individuals across the globe, you're accessing a tremendously larger talent pool than you could in one city. Beyond that, teams composed of people in various locations worldwide can mean that your organization is actively working towards its goals 24 hours a day.

If your team is logging in from different locations around the planet, it can essentially mean that your team can get more work done without any loss of quality. Teams can fulfill deadlines together without the need for late-night shifts or overtime.

Of course, there are a number of challenges that go along with remote teams in different time zones, too. With the right tools, processes, and policies in place, though, managing a team across time zones doesn't have to mean endless frustration or interruptions in workflow.

Achieving success when working with remote teams in a number of different time zones is possible! Stick with us to take a look at eight tips to follow to help coordinate your team, no matter how many time zones they're signing in from.

1. Set Up Reliable Channels of Communication and a Clear Policy

Communication is key in any workplace, but nowhere is this maxim more true than in the remote work environment.

The last thing you want when you are working with a distributed team is for there to be confusion about how to get a hold of one another. One person sends emails to their teammate only to feel increasingly frustrated when response time is slow, while others use the chat feature in a collaboration tool and never receive any word back.

This simply won't do. One of the most important parts of coordinating remote teams in different time zones is choosing your communication tools and ensuring everyone knows how to use them. Beyond that, you'll need to have a crystal clear policy regarding communication specifically and remote work in general.

The more information you can give your team about how and when to communicate, the more smoothly things will go. Setting clear expectations is always important for efficient and effective teams, but it's particularly key when everyone is signing in from different time zones.

2. Identify Overlapping Hours

No matter how spread out your team is, you'll want to make sure that you can identify overlapping hours every day. Even if the most overlap you can find is two hours, this is enough to keep your workflow in sync.

For instance, let's say that half of your team is in France while the other half is in New York. You can identify a two-hour overlap from 10 am to noon for your New York team and 4 pm to 6 pm for your team in France.

During this crucial time, the team that is ending their day can communicate any necessary information about the work they did that day. On the other hand, the team that is still in the first half of their day can let their teammates know what they will accomplish during the rest of their working hours.

You'll want to consider how many working hours of overlap your team will need to stay in sync. Depending on the nature of your industry and your team's goals, you might find a longer overlap period necessary. This means that some team members might have to sacrifice their desired work schedule some days to ensure the overlap is met. If this is the case, make sure you rotate who is required to work outside normal hours to make sure the burden is distributed.

3. Utilize Shared Calendars

Shared calendars are an excellent tool for helping everyone know when their teammates are working and available. Of course, this is only useful if employees keep the calendar up to date, so you'll also want to encourage them to make changes whenever they need to alter their schedule.

Not only is it useful for team members to see their colleagues' work hours, but they can also be made aware of holidays that their co-workers might be observing.

Going the extra mile to ensure that everyone is clear about work schedules can help you plan meetings and avoid conflicts within your team. It's amazing how a little communication can go a long way. In one situation, a team member might start becoming increasingly frustrated when they haven't received a response to their email in three days. With an up-to-date shared calendar, a conflict and work slowdown could be avoided by being able to see that their co-worker is simply on vacation.

4. Take Advantage of Available Tools

Asynchronous collaboration and communication become the standard when a team is distributed across time zones. As remote work has become more commonplace, so have tools that help teams communicate asynchronously in an efficient and effective manner.

Whether you use Zoom, Slack, Trello, Google Suite, or other tools, you'll also want to take the time to set clear guidelines and expectations about how communication occurs using these tools.

Beyond collaboration and communication platforms, you can also use timezone tools to maximize efficiency.

The last thing you want to do is spend several minutes every working day trying to calculate the time difference between you and other team members. Time is money, and this is a task you can easily hand off to technology so you can save your precious mental energy for more essential matters.

While there are a lot of time zone management apps out there, two popular ones are and Timezone will actually visualize the local time in the cities where your team members are through an easy-to-use interface. Spacetime can be integrated with Slack to automatically translate time zones in chat and lets each team member set their location as well as their work hours.

5. Stay Flexible

When you're scheduling team meetings, it's easy to operate as if your own time zone is the standard. However, you'll want to keep your whole team in mind when deciding what time to hold synchronous communications.

If one employee constantly has to sign on at midnight to participate in team meetings, there's a good chance they're a burnout risk. A better tactic is to alternate your meeting times so that some individuals don't have to work after hours repeatedly.

Working in different time zones will require some sacrifices, and it's best to distribute the inconvenience inherent in the work structure.

Of course, how you choose to go about this is going to depend on how your team is distributed. Maybe your employees are sprinkled equally around the globe, but maybe the bulk of your team is in the same time zone, with just a few stragglers in other locations.

Either way, you'll want to be mindful of whether a small handful of employees are bearing the brunt of ill-timed team meetings. If it is very difficult to get everyone together in a reasonable way every week, you might consider holding two team meetings during the day to allow everyone the opportunity to join in.

Additionally, you can record your team meetings so those who can't participate can watch them later on. While it's ideal for all individuals to be present, this can take some of the pressure off if some employees are otherwise expected to get out of bed and join a Zoom meeting at 3 am.

6. Respect Work Hour Boundaries

Encouraging a healthy work-life balance for your employees is essential to avoiding burnout and maintaining a strong, positive company culture.

There are so many benefits for employees and employers alike when it comes to remote work, but one of the major challenges of having a distributed workforce is the fact that team members will be doing their work at different times.

In order to ensure that employees are able to maintain a good work-life balance, you'll want to have a great deal of clarity regarding each worker's work hours and schedules. Everyone should know when other team members are "on the clock," so to speak, so they can know when they can expect others to submit work or respond to communications.

Giving employees the space they need to communicate their work-hour boundaries with one another can help avoid conflicts, miscommunications, or slowdowns in workflow.

7. Schedule Time For Synchronous Communication

For many of the day-to-day tasks of your team, asynchronous communication will be key for distributed teams located across time zones.

However, it's important not to rely solely on asynchronous communication.

Without some face-to-face meetings (virtually, of course,) it can be really difficult for individuals to feel like they're fully a part of the team. Remote work can allow people a great deal of freedom in both their work and their life, but it can also be isolating. Not only do you not want your team to feel totally cut off from each other at a personal level, but it's also important to recognize how damaging this can be to productivity, efficiency, and overall success as a team.

When employees feel isolated from one another, they can start doing sloppy work, miss deadlines, skip meetings, and otherwise seem really disengaged.

By holding team meetings with some regularity, you can help reinforce the fact that you're all in this together. A powerful reminder that no one on the team is working in a vacuum; even quick check-ins can go a long way.

Creating a healthy work culture is more difficult with remote teams, but by no means impossible. If your team is only ever interacting with their co-workers through chat, it's difficult for them to build relationships, learn how to best work together, and get to know one another.

8. Make Time For Team Building and Bonding

While scheduling team meetings where everyone can interact in real-time and talk shop is very important for distributed teams, you'll also want to set up team building and bonding opportunities.

In a regular office setting, team members organically have opportunities throughout the day to get to know each other better, chat about their personal lives, and blow off some steam. Whether they share a cup of coffee in the break room, grab a beer after work, or talk around that oft-mentioned water cooler, relationships are built naturally in a healthy in-office environment.

For remote employees, however, this type of interaction doesn't emerge spontaneously during the work day. If you're not careful, your team could work together for years without knowing much more about their teammates than their names, roles, and time zones.

This is why it's so important to deliberately set up team-building and bonding experiences for your remote team.

When you offer your employees a chance to spend time together in a more casual, fun way, you'll find that there are countless benefits, including:

  • Enhancing creativity

  • Increasing productivity

  • Boosting morale

  • Encouraging creativity and innovation

  • Increasing confidence

  • Improving motivation

  • Promoting health and well being

  • Contributing to a healthy work culture and environment

  • Building relationships among teams

  • Inspiring collaboration

As you can see, scheduling time for your employees to take on a fun and challenging task together, engage in some healthy competition, or even just hang out can seriously affect your team and the whole organization. When employees feel like they are a part of a team and not just isolated remote workers, the whole machine can start running a lot more smoothly.

At PizzaTime, we recognize just how important it is for remote employees to get to know each other, have a good time, and reduce stress. That's why it's our mission to help distributed teams build a sense of camaraderie through delicious food and thrilling experiences.

Whether you want to throw a pizza party to celebrate a completed project or put on a weekly happy hour for your team, you've come to the right place! If you want to really take things to the next level, you can host a team-building virtual experience and send food and drinks to all of your remote employees at the same time. If you're ready to get the party started, begin your order today!

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