How to manage teams in different time zones
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How to manage teams in different time zones

12th August 2015
By Admin

Do you dream of global expansion, but fear the managerial implications of an international team? We’ve got the hottest tips for helping your team grow, without hitting those long distance relationship barriers.

As start-ups become increasingly competitive, sometimes the best way to make your mark is through a 24/7 service, which international teams can provide.

To quell your fears, there are a few steps that you can take to help develop your business into the next big international success story.

Respect cultural differences


It’s a bank holiday and you’re enjoying the freedom of a three-day weekend with friends and family. Suddenly, your phone lights up with endless emails, transporting you from the beer garden and back into the office.

Irritating, isn’t it? One of the most important steps you can take for running a happy and, therefore, productive international team is to ensure that everyone is respectful to cultural differences. This means understanding what a “weekend” means in different countries, what national holidays should be observed, and even the standard working hours.

Managing Director of Stone Junction, Richard Stone, knows the importance of cultural understanding: “Most Arabic countries rest on Friday and Saturday and work Sunday to Thursday. You should time your own communications to respect this.

“Expats in Dubai won’t be offended if you send them an e­mail on a Friday for instance, but save your e­mail to the CEO of a large Arabic business until Sunday, out of respect.”

Communicate clearly

Conversation between colleagues

Time zones: what a hassle. They are a fact of international life, though, and much like the ways in which you have to adapt when flying long haul, it’s important that you take the same considerations when communicating with your team.

Know that 0900 hours UK time is vastly different to 0900 hours in any other part of the world. To ensure nobody misses a call or a deadline, be very clear in the ways in which you communicate with your global team when it comes to the clock.

Raymon Girard, President of Content Marketing from Spafax Toronto, has this simple but hugely effective piece of advice: “Spell out the time in long hand on diary appointments: e.g. 7am Toronto – with a link to the world clock website. Don’t trust digital calendars to always get it right!”

A simple step, but get into the habit and you’ll find you’ll have a team that spends less time waiting for meetings and more time actually having them.

Treat your team like a team


It’s a curse of remote working, no matter where you are in the world. There’s a fear amongst many remote workers that they could miss out on the big wins, simply because they’re not in the office with the boss.
To ensure that your international team feels appreciated and remembered, be inclusive in company celebrations and make a point to acknowledge their input when it comes to the work itself. This will help to unify all of your workers, and ensure they feel as though they’re moving towards a larger goal collaboratively.

Other steps include adapting the physical elements of a working day. For example, allowing your international workers to hot desk when they’re in your head office will help them get to know team members by face, rather than by email signature.

These are all pretty small steps in managing an international team, but by taking the time and consideration to apply them to your business, you’ll show you’re a company that not only cares, but takes its international expansion seriously.

It’s important to sweat the small stuff.