How to Collaborate Across Time Zones

By Stella Huang Sep 29, 2020
Sep 29, 2020

It could be challenging trying to work with teammates from different time zones. Let's take a look at some tips to help with this!

More and more teams are now distributed, located in different cities and countries with different time zones. At BeeCanvas, we are also distributed in two different continents with a 16-hour time difference. As you can imagine, there are numerous challenges. For example, it isn't easy to schedule a meeting time that works well for everyone. We cannot get immediate feedback or responses from our peers, so if any miscommunication occurs, it can lead to unnecessary work hours. We've managed to make it work through trial and error, and today we will share some tips on how your team can also collaborate more efficiently across multiple time zones.

Regular online video meetings

Even though it is not easy to find a time that works for everyone, it is crucial to have regular meetings to stay connected. There are many tools online, such as Doodle, HubSpot, Calendly, etc. that can help you visualize overlapping schedules and pick the best time for everyone. When the date and time are set, make sure to schedule the meeting on the team calendar so everyone can be clear about when they should get on based on their time zone. It is also essential to take meeting notes, which you can do beautifully with BeeCanvas, so that team member who couldn't make it can revisit later to understand what happened in the meeting.

Embrace online collaboration & communication tools

While we would all prefer to get responses instantly, asynchronous communication is unavoidable when working from different time zones. Luckily, there are many ways to make asynchronous collaboration more manageable and more efficient. One of them is to utilize the right online collaboration and communication tools.

Each team has its workflow and culture. There is no universally perfect set of tools or tech stack. However, many of the currently popular collaboration tools are heavily text-based and full of text threads, quickly leading to miscommunication and loss of context. At BeeCanvas, visualization is the key. Besides Slack for our day-to-day casual communications, GitLab to manage our detailed development tasks of a project, and Perdoo to keep track of our company OKRs, the BeeCanvas platform serves as our high-level project management tool, primary collaboration tool, and our documentation tool. Click here to learn more about everything BeeCanvas offers.

Connect outside of work

Having excellent interpersonal relationships with your teammates is an essential part of enjoyable working life. If everyone in the team can talk about work and feel comfortable sharing more about their lives, then that's a sign of a close-knit team. At BeeCanvas, we have a "#freetalking" Slack channel, where everyone can talk about anything that does not work. It is also good to regularly have online happy hours, where everyone can grab a beer and chat about life. Finally, if possible, meeting up in person every once in a while will be very beneficial for team bonding.

Having a distributed team is not a bad thing

We might need to be more patient when working with teammates from different time zones, but having a team across the country or even the globe is something we should be proud of. It makes us more diverse and multicultural. Thanks to the 16 hours of time zone difference we have within the BeeCanvas team, we can support our users globally, almost 24/7. With the help of the right online tools, respecting each other's working hours, and building a positive work culture, distributed teams can thrive and succeed just as any on-site team.

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

- Benjamin Franklin -

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