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The Timezone Struggle


HOW TO: COMMUNICATING WITH DIFFERENT TIMEZONES AT WORK

Eight hours of sleep, doctor’s orders -- well, that doctor clearly never had to coordinate with multiple timezones. As much as you try and respect that bed time you’ve assigned yourself, working with people in different countries who are on different schedules can get a little tricky. It often comes down to a battle between work and sleep -- and in most cases, work wins. Between staying up until midnight and waking up at the crack of dawn, it’s no wonder mid-day cat naps have become a daily routine at the office. The down side of sleep deprivation? Constant fatigue and increased chances of getting sick and sluggish. But what choice do you have? Chances are, you accepted this job knowing exactly what you were getting into. Tip -- just keep reminding yourself that when times get really tough and the exhaustion levels are at an all time high, there’s always coffee.

The truth is, when you’re passionate about what you do, the crazy hours and inconsistent schedules all become part of the fun. Regardless of whether you’re working in a corporate office, a Startup or even a small, family-run business, sometimes skipping out on some well earned zzz’s is necessary.

Long distance work relationships getting in the way of your beauty sleep? Here are the top 5 secrets on how to successfully manage timezone conflict. 

  1. New school calendars. If you’re working in a Central timezone, dealing with Pacific and Eastern ones, you’ll have to make yourself aware of the time in all areas. A great way to ensure you’re accommodating everyone’s timezone efficiently and effectively would be to have all timezones in sight. Perhaps by decorating the office with multiple clocks, or simply having a digital version of the different times displayed on your desktop background. With this, setting up phone calls or Skype meetings becomes a lot easier to do and a lot less time-consuming -- rather than trying to rack your brain about what time it is on the other side of the world, you simply look up and have the answers in plain sight. With the common courtesy of taking everyone’s time into consideration, they will never feel neglected or underappreciated as a business partner. A startup trick that really helps is having a common shared calendar (like Google Calendar), where they can immediately see when a meeting has been scheduled, and can change it on their end if need be. With such an integrative tool, the calendar displays the meeting in all different timezones. This way, everyone remains in the loop, and all times are taken into account.
  2. Face-to-face communication… sort of. With the help of a shared calendar, setting up the imperative Skype or Facetime meetings are easy and effective. This helps create consistency and ensures that everyone is on the same page. Being able to discuss with partners across time zones like that is almost as good as the real thing! You’d be surprised just how much you could accomplish via virtual meetings compared to in-person meetings.
  3. Boundaries for a cause. Everyone knows you’re not a robot, so don’t even try to be. Set up boundaries for yourself so that you’re never truly overworked. Don’t be a hero -- no one expects you to work 24/7. Pulling out from a 3 am meeting every once in a while isn’t the end of the world. It’s simply not worth the excessive sleep deprivation or, in turn, missed deadlines. Instead, get briefed on the meeting the next day and do as much as you can to catch up.
  4. Quick and fun internal communication. Put group iMessages in the past and forget about being CC’ed on emails, technology has moved on and upgraded to more instant and inclusive messaging. Introducing Slack, the smartest and most efficient messaging software out there. With all of your conversations, tools and attachments in one place, a day at the office will run more smoothly and with great ease. Trying to contact someone in China? Send them a quick slack message, they’ll see it as soon as they wake up and reply promptly. They will never miss another group conversation again -- being apart of every channel, they can simply scroll up and see everything they missed while they enabled their “do not disturb” feature and were sound asleep.
  5. Patience. The last, but possibly the most important tip to communicating across continents is being patient. Without this attribute, you will quickly lose tolerance and your composure. Your partners want to be able to trust you and rely on you -- the ability to remain calm and accommodating will reinforce just that. 

Oh, and did we mention coffee? Working with third party partners overseas may seem like a headache at times, but it’s all worth it! It’s all about getting the best of the best to work with your team, no matter where they live and what implications that may have on your schedule. If succeeding is your goal, you’ll do whatever it takes to make your long distance work relationships work. 

Just got off a conference call and it’s 2:00 am? It’s bedtime but you can’t seem to disconnect and unwind? Revolmusic’s Need Sleep playlist on Spotify is just what you need… Sleep tight! 


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