The Slice

Timezone Tango: 10 Tricks to Synchronize Distributed Teams

October 13, 2023

What can you do to synchronize your distributed team? How can you actually use the fact that your workforce is sprinkled around the planet to your advantage?‍ In this post, we'll look at ten tricks you can use to ensure there's never so much as a snag in your workflow, no matter where your team is located.

In this day and age, distributed teams are increasingly common. It's practically the norm for teams to be signing on from around the globe to work towards accomplishing shared goals.

There are tons of benefits to working with distributed teams, but also a fair share of challenges. One of the most notable of these is being able to fluidly synchronize teams when some employees are just starting their day as others are getting ready to clock out.

What can you do to synchronize your distributed team? How can you actually use the fact that your workforce is sprinkled around the planet to your advantage?

In this post, we'll look at ten tricks you can use to ensure there's never so much as a snag in your workflow, no matter where your team is located.

10 Tricks to Synchronize Distributed Teams

It's possible that any issues you're facing when it comes to synchronizing your distributed team could be solved with a few simple tweaks to your system.

Some combination of the following tricks could mean your team is in tip-top shape in no time.

1. Flexible Working Hours

One trick you can use to synchronize distributed teams is to allow and encourage team members to have flexible working hours within certain boundaries. This allows them to adjust their schedules to overlap with teammates in other time zones, providing real-time discussions, problem-solving, and decision-making opportunities.

Flexibility in work hours can also help prevent burnout, as team members can adapt their schedules to accommodate different time zones without constantly working during non-standard hours. This promotes a healthier work-life balance.

You'll also benefit from improved productivity, as team members are likely to be more efficient and effective in their work when they can choose their most productive hours.

2. Time Zone Awareness

Another important step you can take is to ensure that all team members are aware of each other's time zones. Use tools like world clocks or time zone converters to help everyone quickly determine the local time of their colleagues and promote awareness of being considerate of when team members will be actively working and attentive to their email, chat, and so on.

Additionally, time zone awareness allows team members to schedule meetings, deadlines, and project milestones while considering the most convenient times for all participants. This reduces scheduling conflicts and ensures everyone can participate during regular working hours.

Making it clear that team members are working from different time zones also helps individuals understand the importance of respecting their colleagues' working hours. They will be more likely to avoid scheduling meetings or sending messages during non-standard hours, which can disrupt work-life balance.

3. Common Time Windows

You can also identify specific time windows during which all team members are expected to be available for meetings or collaboration. This generally means scheduling meetings and other collaborative activities during overlapping work hours so individual team members don't have to wake up at midnight to participate.

Common time windows provide dedicated periods when team members can collaborate in real-time. This is crucial for discussions that require immediate input, brainstorming sessions, and decision-making. At the same time, you can reduce scheduling complexity by identifying the overlapping windows, making the process more straightforward.

4. Meeting Roster Rotation

Rotate the responsibility for inconvenient meeting times so team members share the burden of early or late meetings fairly. This promotes a sense of equity and ensures that no team member constantly has to make changes to their personal schedule to participate in group activities.

Rotating meeting times also helps prevent time zone fatigue for any particular subgroup of team members. Over time, everyone has an opportunity to participate in meetings at their preferred local working hours.

5. Asynchronous Communication

Encourage the use of asynchronous communication tools like email, project management software, or collaboration platforms to share updates and information that don't require real-time interaction. This is basically essential when you have a team that is signing on from different time zones, letting your entire team forge forward in a way that transcends time zone barriers.

Team members can contribute to discussions, share updates, and complete tasks at their convenience, making working efficiently despite significant time differences possible. Additionally, team members can focus on their tasks during their most productive hours without interruptions from real-time communication. This can lead to increased productivity and higher-quality work.

6. Clear Communication Guidelines

When you're actively working to synchronize distributed teams, another crucial step is to create clear communication guidelines that address response times, expectations for availability, and how to handle urgent matters when team members are in different time zones.

These guidelines provide a framework for effective communication practices, ensuring that all team members understand how to interact with each other to achieve their goals. Well-defined communication guidelines clarify message tone, format, and response time expectations. This reduces the likelihood of misinterpretation and misunderstandings, which can be more challenging to resolve in a distributed team.

Furthermore, guidelines specify which communication tools and channels should be used for different types of communication. This prevents confusion and ensures that team members are on the same page regarding where to find information.

7. Record Your Meetings

Record important meetings and make them available to team members who couldn't attend in real-time. This ensures that everyone can access the information shared during meetings and get up to speed quickly.

Making a habit of recording your meetings means that team members in different time zones can access meeting recordings at their convenience. This allows them to catch up on discussions and stay informed without having to attend meetings during off-hours.

8. Time Zone Tags

Another thing you can do to help synchronize your distributed team is to use time zone tags or labels when scheduling meetings or setting deadlines. This helps team members quickly identify the time zone associated with a particular event, avoiding confusion and increasing clarity in terms of which time zone is being used to designate a deadline or meeting time.

Team members can plan their work and activities more efficiently when they clearly understand when specific events or deadlines occur relative to their local time. This helps prevent last-minute rushes and missed deadlines and avoids overlapping and conflicting events.

9. Time Zone Buddy System

Encourage team members to have a "time zone buddy" from another region who can help them stay updated on important events and share information when they are offline.

With the time zone buddy system, at least one team member is always available during core working hours. This ensures that urgent matters can be addressed promptly, reducing project delays and bottlenecks.

Time zone buddies can also coordinate handovers of work and responsibilities, allowing for a seamless transition between shifts or working hours. This minimizes disruptions and keeps the workflow flowing smoothly.

10. Regular Check-Ins

Working with distributed teams means going out of your way to connect with them at an individual and group level. Make sure you schedule regular check-in meetings or status updates that are convenient for all team members. This helps maintain a sense of connection and ensures that everyone is aligned on project progress.

It's also a good idea for morale and team culture to give everyone the opportunity to spend time together frequently, no matter how far away they are geographically. When team members interact regularly, it fosters a sense of camaraderie and belonging, even in distributed teams. This can help build team cohesion and trust, which are essential for effective collaboration. Consider throwing a team pizza party or treating everyone to a virtual escape room challenge!

The Benefits of Working With Teams Across Time Zones

There are plenty of perks that come along with collaborating with individuals that are sprinkled across the globe.

Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • 24/7 productivity: With team members spread across various time zones, work can continue around the clock. This can lead to faster project progress and quicker issue resolution as there is less downtime.

  • Global expertise: Access to a diverse talent pool from different geographical locations allows organizations to tap into a wide range of skills and expertise, which can lead to innovative solutions and approaches.

  • Market coverage: Distributed teams can more effectively cater to customers and markets in different time zones. This can improve customer support, sales, and overall market presence.

  • Time zone specialization: Teams in different time zones can specialize in tasks that align with their local working hours. For example, customer support teams in Asia can handle issues during Asian business hours.

  • Reduced costs: Companies can reduce costs by hiring in regions with lower labor costs. This can lead to significant savings, especially when it comes to development, support, or outsourcing.

  • Diverse perspectives: Teams from different regions bring diverse perspectives and cultural insights to the table, fostering creativity and problem-solving.

  • Enhanced availability: Distributed teams can offer better availability for urgent tasks and support, as there's a higher chance that someone is available to handle critical issues.

  • Improved work-life balance: Employees in different time zones can enjoy better work-life balance by working during their local daytime hours, potentially reducing burnout and improving job satisfaction.

  • Crisis management: Distributed teams can help with crisis management by spreading the load during a crisis or emergency, ensuring that essential operations can continue even if one location is affected.

  • Skill development: Team members in different locations can learn from each other, developing new skills and improving cross-cultural communication abilities.

The Challenges Presented by Multi-Time-Zone Teams

Of course, many challenges accompany working with distributed teams that are spread across different time zones.

Some of the obstacles you will want to be aware of include:

  • Communication barriers: Time zone differences can lead to communication gaps. Team members may struggle to find overlapping hours for meetings and real-time discussions, leading to delays in decision-making and problem-solving.

  • Scheduling conflicts: Coordinating meetings and project milestones can be challenging when team members' working hours don't align. This can result in delays, missed deadlines, and frustration.

  • Reduced team cohesion: Teams working in different time zones may feel less connected, which can impact team cohesion, culture, and morale. Building a strong team spirit becomes more challenging when team members rarely interact face-to-face.

  • Information flow: Ensuring that all team members receive timely updates and have access to essential information can be a struggle. Some team members may miss critical updates or decisions if you don't have a seamless system.

  • Miscommunication and misunderstandings: Differences in working hours and language barriers can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. Nuances and context may be lost in written communication.

  • Increased workload: Team members may need to work outside their regular hours to accommodate colleagues in different time zones. This can lead to burnout and reduced work-life balance.

  • Difficulty in problem-solving: When issues arise, it may take longer to resolve them because the key stakeholders are not available simultaneously to address the problem.

  • Time zone fatigue: Constantly adjusting to different time zones and working odd hours can lead to time zone fatigue, which can affect productivity and well-being.

  • Lack of face-to-face interaction: Building trust and relationships can be more challenging when team members rarely meet in person. Video conferences help, but they can't completely replace face-to-face interactions.

  • Security and data privacy: Sharing sensitive information across time zones may increase security and data privacy risks. Different regions may have varying regulations and compliance requirements.

  • Cultural differences: Cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings or conflicts, especially when team members are not familiar with the customs and working styles of their colleagues from other regions.

  • Management complexity: Managing distributed teams in different time zones requires additional coordination and management effort. It can be challenging for team leads and managers to keep everyone aligned and motivated.

Bring Your Team Together, No Matter Where They Are

Creating opportunities for your distributed team to get to know each other, bond, and create shared memories is essential if you want them all to be on the same wavelength. Synchronizing your team isn't just about making sure everyone can make it to the weekly meeting– it's also about figuring out how to bring everyone together despite their distance.

At PizzaTime, we specialize in creating awesome experiences for teams around the globe. Whether you want to treat your team to a virtual experience or an awesome, remote-catered party, we're here to help. Placing an order takes less than two minutes– get started today!

The Pizzatime Blog

The Slice

Thank you! Welcome to the list.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Some further reading



meals catered to thousands of companies across the globe

and thousands of other leading companies
Our team changed from being in the office to working from home permanently through the pandemic. So Pizzatime gives our team a reason to gather and have social time. We also use Pizzatime to get together for milestone celebrations. Everyone loves pizza, right!?!
Angela T
CL Underwriting Team Lead
Grange Insurance
It arrives at the time of the event, so everyone is sharing the same experience at the same time.
Mariuxi T
Field marketing specialist
It takes away the huge time consumption it normally would take if I had to place orders for everyone manually or if I had to send them all gift cards and expense everything, one by one.
Madison G
Executive Assistant
Pizza and coffee are everyone's love language and a great way to treat your employees, teams, or friends. Plus, Pizzatime makes the entire process SO easy! I couldn't recommend them enough!
Kim K
Administrative Assistant
General Mills
The best option to use when planning a virtual lunch for teams across multiple sites and locations.
Sherry S
Administrative Assistant
Capital One
A convenient way to order pizza for a group and save time. It’s great for virtual lunch and happy hour meetings with entertainment.
Loubna S
Executive Assistant

Mix it up with something new

Remote meetings are boring. Stimulate your team with a unique experience.

Explore Food & Drink