Meeting Deadlines for Teams Remotely Spread Across Time Zones
Digital technology has solved some of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. From increasing productivity to eliminating almost all paper processes, in terms of signing contracts and filling expenses to manage invoices. But more importantly, systematic digital solutions mean we can now get work done from different locations across the globe and across different time zones.
However, while technology brought about the possibility of managing remote teams, it also brought about a couple of challenges. For instance, how do we make sure team members spread out across different time zones can efficiently meet deadlines?
Challenges of Working in Different Time Zones
Being spread across different time zones has its drawbacks. Perhaps the most significant being the difficulty in finding time to collaborate, especially in cases where there’s no overlap in traditional work hours between two time zones. Managing remote employees require consistent and crystal-clear communication and this could pose a problem if workers are battling time differences. For example, where it is noon in one teammate’s location and midnight in their supervisor’s location.
There’s also the challenge of cultural and language barriers. A lot could get lost in translation, plus there’s the risk of miscommunication, superfluous overtime, lack of sufficient real-time information, or even unproductive work. Left unchecked, these can lead to missed deadlines and poor, disjointed workflow.
As a business owner or team leader, ensuring that the team can communicate well with each other is something that you will have to continuously work on. Thankfully, there are lots of collaboration tools today that you can use to make sure that everyone stays in sync at all times and meet their respective deadlines.
Solving These Challenges
Asynchronous communication ensures that remote employees know who is working on what and when enabling projects to flow smoothly and blockers are not left unaddressed. It keeps everyone on the same page in their respective countries, cities, and continents. From discussions related to project planning, to company announcements, weekly and monthly updates, project discussions and general feedback.
Remote Teams Best Practices
The best practices involved in managing a team across different time zones and getting the best from their productivity include:
Setting Fair Meeting Times
This is an essential principle that can be adopted as a best practice to maintain efficiency among team members. If it is simply impossible to create one standard meeting time that is fair for everyone, then remote companies should consider rotating meeting times so that everyone gets a break from the unusual schedule. Though that might not be ideal, it encourages remote teams to sync more with their coworkers and be more attuned to the various work schedules happening within the team.
When setting meeting times, there is no room for ambiguity in conversation with co-workers. Meeting times should be kept consistent and timely. You must pay special attention to your remote team to work as a cohesive unit. Setting a home-time zone can be handy if it works out being the timezone which houses the majority of your team. But if that's not the case, then build on the home-time zone and overlap the rest of your team onto it.
Use Collaborative Tools
The use of collaborative communication and project management tools help in terms of collaborative remote work. Making use of cloud-based document means that multiple users can create, edit, and comment all at the same time despite being in different locations. Changes are tracked for each user and everyone has access to the latest changes. Sharing a cloud-based calendar has also proved helpful in planning meetings across different time zones and locations. The use of project management tools also help managers plan sprints and keep track of the teams progress.
It is not enough to have the right tools and the right orchestration to bring remote teammates together in a productive meeting. If most of the workers see face to face and only a part of the team is remote, those working face to face tends to ignore the people on the screen. Their input tends to be minimized and that can have an adverse effect on the cooperation in the long run. Leading by example and showing that no matter the teammate’s location, their insights have a place on the table. Ensure that everyone feels equitably part of the team.
Have Get-togethers and Celebrate Results
Send a summary review of projects to the entire team once the project is delivered. Congratulate everyone on a job well done, then include an assessment of everyone’s work as well as client feedback, what worked and what can be improved. Even if the whole team is dispersed all over the world, this investment is still worthwhile as it would help newcomers integrate, improve your team's cohesion and morale, and cultivate long-lasting bonds between teammates.
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