With technology at our fingertips, team members no longer have to work in close proximity. Technology has made it possible to collaborate with individuals spread across different time zones and still have projects completed in a timely manner.
One big advantage of having people from different time zones is heightened creativity and innovation. Each person is exposed to different things, so the sources of motivation and inspiration are diverse. You can only imagine what magic this can do when each person brings his or her ideas to the table.
However, managing such a team can be challenging. The differences in time zones make it difficult to have everyone in sync. Nevertheless, there is always a way out. Here are six ways that you can use to manage a remote team across different parts of the world.
1. Respect time zone boundaries
Different time zone means that every employee has different working hours. Most remote employees feel obligated to accommodate work issues even outside their working hours. While it can go well for some time, having to work at odd hours slowly frustrates individuals, and can lead to job dissatisfaction in the long run.
The best way to handle this is to allow everyone to discuss the hours he or she can be active. You can then alternate odd hour shifts to ensure each gets a share of it. In addition, practice patience when it comes to communicating with your employees. Unless an issue is extremely urgent, it is better to wait until regular hours for an individual to discuss it.
2. Set clear expectations
Burnout is real, and you can’t really commit to working around the clock to accommodate your workers in different time zones. Give yourself a chance to breathe by setting clear expectations and goals. You can allocate time at the beginning of the week to set weekly objectives and to explain what needs to be done for each of them in a clear way.
Clarity is also important when setting dates and times. Ensure that when you state a deadline in your time zone, you also state it in the employee’s time zone to eliminate confusion. The idea is to limit the need for employees to call you for clarification.
3. Provide what they require
It can be very frustrating trying to complete a task when some bits of information are missing, and the person holding this information can’t be reached. Worse still, such scenarios can lead to delays and missed deadlines.
Just as it is important to be clear on expectations, it is equally important to ensure that employees have everything they need to get the job done. Give them access to all the information they need, and send any additional updates in a timely manner. And, not just information, ensure that the employees have all the technology they need.
In addition, ensure that they are trained on how to use every tool they use for work. It can seem obvious that an employee, for instance, knows how to unzip files, but you should never assume. Go the extra mile to discuss everything around such technologies to ensure they don’t run into problems using them.
4. Utilize technology
Technology has made it easy to collaborate and keep communications channels open for teams working near or far from each other. Choose communication tools that suit your needs as a team spread across multiple time zones. You can opt for a tool that supports instant messaging and file sharing. This way, employees can leave messages for others to act on them when they get active from where they are.
In addition, you can use project management tools that allow everyone to edit their progress. That way, anyone on the team can tell which tasks are completed, in progress or pending. This ensures that everyone is working on the same page.
5. Hold regular meetings
When teams work apart from each other, it can be easy to detach themselves from the bigger picture. We all know that employees thrive when they feel like they belong to an organization. That is why holding regular meetings is crucial in bringing teams together. However, inclusivity is paramount, which can be challenging in teams spread across different time zones. Ensure that you schedule meetings when every team is active.
6. Meet in-person often
Virtual meetings are good, and they help save time and money traveling across the world to meet with your employees. However, they can never replace the value that is in physical meetings.
Set aside a budget for you to personally meet with your teams at least once or twice in a year. In addition, you can have yearly events to bring everyone together in one venue. Such meetings are crucial in building workplace relationships that are key in improving teamwork and collaboration.
Managing a team with members spread across different time zones boils down to having time zone etiquette. This means respecting time zones boundaries and finding ways to include everyone. When you get the hang of these two, managing such a team ceases to feel like an uphill task.