Remote workers must be mindful of carefully checking the time zones of coworkers.
- When working from home, one common time management issue is when you and the people that you work with reside in different time zones. If you've dealt with that before, you've likely experienced one or two occasions when people show up at the wrong time or experienced other confusion. Here are a few tips to reduce these kinds of issues. First, I recommend, somewhere in your office, having a second clock or even a third clock if you're working with multiple time zones. These show the times of the people that you're meeting with.
This simple thing helps you continually be aware of the cycle of your coworkers' day. In a way, having these clocks and showing that you have them to your coworkers, helps them feel that you respect them. I have staff members who do this in their office, and just seeing it when we're video conferencing, helps me feel that they care about their job and they care about staying connected to me. Also, when scheduling appointments, try to do it from their perspective.
When you suggest possible meeting times, always show it in terms of their time zones. Not only does this show more respect for the other person, but it reduces the likelihood of making mistakes. If you want to show your time zone as well, that's fine, but just make sure it's in parentheses, or in a smaller font so they recognize their time zone first. In that same vein, it's a good idea to use a shared calendar that automatically makes those time zone changes for you.
Most modern workplace calendars, such as Outlook or Google, already have this built in. If you're not using those apps, it might be wise to run a test or two to make sure that your group calendaring tool, is automatically accounting for time zones. Last, let's revisit the concept for just a moment, of having a start time and a finish time each day, which I covered earlier in this course. When working with people across multiple time zones, particularly if the time zones are extremely different, it may be necessary and appropriate for me to have more than one start time, and more than one finish line each day.
For instance, let's say that I have coworkers in both Denver and Beijing, China, yet need to interface with them both. I may have a start time at 10 a.m. each day, and work until my first finish line at 3 p.m., where I'm focused on doing work with my more local coworkers. Then, I may start again at 10 p.m. and have a finish line at midnight, giving me a window to interface with people on the other side of the world.
This is just a rough example, but it shows how you can still work with people all around the world, but have boundaries that you both respect. What we're seeking to avoid is the thinking that because we're working with people all around the world, we should be available 24/7. This kind of setup leads to health issues, productivity decline, and increased stress. Take some time to set up expectations and systems with your coworkers around the world.
You'll be able to find a productive pattern to collaborate and get work done.
- Creating a productive environment
- Creating a balanced schedule
- Using virtual meetings
- Staying responsive
- Balancing roles as a parent, caregiver, and professional
- Managing interruptions and emergencies at home