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Seven ways to work effectively across time zones

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 6 Dec 2022

Virtual Meeting

Working across time zones can feel like a juggling act. It’s not easy to collaborate and keep team spirit high when one colleague is signing out as another starts their workday.

A key challenge for remote companies is finding ways to foster an inclusive work culture. Being spread across time zones with extreme time differences can create obstacles to collaboration, communication and productivity, such as insufficient social connection and limited opportunities for employees’ work to be recognised.

But despite these challenges, most organisations in surveying will find the benefits of working across time zones outweigh the limitations. These include access to a global talent pool, with the potential for increased innovation and profitability and productivity, as distributed teams can work around the clock.

As a global organisation, RICS has offices and employees around the world. Moreover, RICS Recruit is global job site, so make sure to check out the different opportunities available in surveying internationally.

To ensure you work effectively across time zones, you can follow RICS’ seven top tips.

1. Prioritise effective communication

Emphasise the use of clear, efficient written messages and asynchronous communication styles. Misunderstandings can seriously affect processes and lead to delays, so always assess documents, guides or messages for clarity. To avoid hold-ups and the need to reschedule, ensure that everyone can access these documents too.

Using flexible, secure channels such as team chat apps can help to remove the time constraints of a synchronous approach, while keeping a record of communication on project details and processes to hand.

2. Embrace asynchronous collaboration

This is key for promoting inclusivity across time zones and making sure everyone is getting enough time to focus.

Embracing digital tools and apps can allow employees anywhere to log work they’ve done or are doing in real-time, and leave comments or questions for other team members to read on their own schedule.

To synchronise performance across time zones, clearly define roles that fit an asynchronous work model. A successful global team should operate autonomously, with minimal instruction to support maximum productivity. By being clear about their expectations, managers can more easily exhibit flexibility around employees’ work needs.

3. Be mindful when scheduling meetings

Being aware of team members’ time zones sounds simple, but can very easily slip our minds. Always ask employees which time zone they’re in, so these are part of your thinking from the outset.

Search time zones by city when scheduling meetings, especially in countries with multiple time zones. Also consider sharing a document detailing team members’ respective time zones, which all employees can easily consult.

4. Clearly state project deadlines by time zone

With clear deadlines set in their respective time zones, employees can better plan to complete their contribution to projects on schedule.

5. Meet in smaller groups

Scheduling time for a face-to-face check-in can better align teams on projects, improve social connection, and foster an awareness of each other’s lives and schedules. Whether these are daily catch-up calls, weekly coffee chats or fortnightly sessions to conceptualise new ideas, it’s much easier to find a time that works for everyone in groups of two or three.

6. Encourage virtual hangouts

Proactively create more opportunities for remote team members to connect. This requires more inventive ways to involve everyone in conversations, tapping in to your team members’ interests: a good example is encouraging them to join company-wide chat groups for shared interests, such as books or gaming.

7. Mind the cultural norms

Pay attention to learning and optimising for different cultures, as these affect employee communication styles, collaboration methods and work schedules. Take note of holidays specific to individual cultures so no one misses meetings or group work sessions. Providing space for diverse cultural representations creates a productive, inclusive environment in which employees can innovate.

Read next: Ten Ways to Work Effectively Across Cultures.

Thinking of working abroad? RICS Recruit is a global job board – check out the range of available opportunities across surveying worldwide.