Tips for International Teams Working Across Different Time Zones
While some e-commerce teams have the luxury of being located in the same place, there are just as many who do not. International teams come with a ton of benefits, but strong international teams need to overcome the biggest work barrier: time zones. It can take some time for a business to find its stride as an internationally-operating group, but once it does, the positive effects are countless. As an international team ourselves, here are our tried-and-true methods for working from around the globe.
Choose Your “Home” Time
Every company should strive to have one time each week where the company members all meet. This is no different from other companies’ weekly stand-ups, with the only caveat being that picking that time is a little more difficult when everyone’s nine-to-fives don’t line up. Choosing a “home” time is surely optional, but it is a great chance to talk about what everyone is individually working on, what they need help with, and what their week looks like. Opting for a group meeting — even if some team members may need to be a little more flexible in setting it — allows for better asynchronous communication and the ability to continue working through a project, even when a colleague is logged off of Slack for the night. If you need help picking a time, World Time Buddy can help find overlapping hours across different time zones that work for everyone.
Communicate Clearly About Times & Meetings
When setting other meetings or scheduled events, make sure to communicate clearly. Everyone on your team needs to understand when to touch base, which will not be the same time for everyone. Always note what time a meeting is happening with its appropriate time zone, and its corresponding international times and time zones when applicable. It’s advised to try to keep meetings within working hours for everyone, or as close to them as possible. If you do need to schedule meetings outside of working hours, be fair in having them during rotating odd-hours, so the same team members aren’t always working late or waking up early.
Be Mindful of Others’ Time
After establishing work hours and preferred time zone alterations, be sure to respect the working hours of your colleagues. For instance, you can try to save questions until the end of your work day if they’re currently asleep. This can help prevent notifications from pinging them during their personal hours. If an email isn’t too urgent, schedule it in advance to go out during waking hours for as many employees as possible. Doing so gives everyone the chance to reply and see details about a given set of information at the same time. Current communication platforms have recognised that many teams operate internationally, and on platforms such as Slack, will let you know what the local time is for whomever you’re messaging if they’re on a different schedule than you. In addition to being mindful, don’t forget that patience and flexibility are virtues!
Embrace Virtual Project Management
If there’s any time to be a part of an international team, it’s now! With work from home having taken 2020 by storm, virtual project management and communication systems have greatly improved over the past year. We now have access to all of the technology we could need at our very fingertips, all to ensure smooth project hand-offs and effective collaboration. There are time management tools and progress trackers for monitoring employee’s workloads and billable client hours. Slack, Google Hangouts, and similar platforms allow for simple communication and meetings. Proper task management systems will allow international team members to see what’s been completed while they were away. No matter what your needs are, there is likely a virtual management tool that can help. Full Fat Commerce’s International Shopify Team The concept of working between time zones isn’t foreign to Full Fat Commerce; our company may be headquartered in the UK, but our team is located across the globe. We’ve chosen to be an international team because we recognise that, sometimes, the best individuals in a given field aren’t in the same place as us. In order to provide the high level of quality we’re known for, we’ve always kept our hiring open to e-commerce specialists anywhere in the world. While working as an international team has its challenges here and there, we’ve found it to be more than beneficial — and so have our clients. Our wide range of time zones means we’re always working around the clock, which allows us to deliver fast results with the quality you’d expect. If you need a Shopify team to improve how your storefront or site functions, get in touch with Full Fat today. We always reply as soon as possible with the information and Shopify help you need, whether it’s morning, afternoon, or night.