Challenges and Benefits of Working Across Time Zones
By far, one of the biggest benefits of being a remote company is the fact that you can have staff from near and far working across time zones on various schedules. This continuous coverage means that, in theory, there should be staffers who provide the company 24-hour support.
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That said, there are definitely challenges when it comes to having workers far flung across the globe. If your company is considering expanding its talent pool and crossing the pond (or even ocean), or is contemplating going remote, here are the challenges (and benefits) of working across time zones.

The Pros of Working Across Time Zones

Someone will always be “on.”

For companies that are heavy on customer service, having staff working a variety of schedules means that you can boast 24/7 service. Outwardly facing, this shows that your company is in high demand.

But on an internal level, having employees who are always working means that there will always be someone available should an issue or crisis arise.

It adds diversity to your staff.

Going from having a U.S.-based business to a multinational business can be a great thing for your company.

A multicultural team adds diversity to your organization, and can also boost customer service by offering customers the comfort of connecting with your company in their own time zone, in their own language, and with their own cultural nuances.

It brings in new ideas and fresh perspectives.

Let’s face it: having a homogenized staff full of workers from the same background can mean that ideas might become similar—and stagnant.

When you introduce workers into a team across various time zones or even countries, you provide the opportunity for fresh insight, different perspectives, and new plans that can be put into action based on cultural diversity.

The Cons of Working Across Time Zones

Communication has to be crystal clear—and consistent.

In order for a remote team to work, there needs to be stellar communication. That’s even more the case when workers are on at various times of the day and night.

Understanding an individual’s communication style (and frequency) can be vetted during the hiring process, especially if the job seeker already has previous remote work experience.

And workers should always be encouraged to be proactive in their communication, so that productivity is fluid and seamless.

A lot can get lost in translation.

When you have workers across various time zones, it’s possible that the same diversity that makes your company competitive can also bring it crashing down if you’re not prepared. If workers are battling language and cultural barriers, it’s up to management to reinforce the fact that each employee brings something unique to the team.

Ensuring that the team can communicate well with each other is something that you’ll have to continuously work on, but will ultimately benefit the team—and the company—in increased productivity and stronger bonds.

Your company has to take the time to set up the team for success.

Sure, you have workers covering the planet so that everyone is on the same page no matter what time of day it is. But that isn’t always enough. You have to set up your team for success by implementing the best and most current collaboration tools so that everyone can stay in sync.

This will help workers covering a second shift take over from the first without dropping any proverbial balls. It doesn’t stop there, though. Management needs to offer training to make sure that all employees are well-versed in using all of the collaboration tools.

In life, there are pros and cons to everything, and having a remote team working across various time zones is no different. But knowing some of the potential pitfalls ahead of time can ensure that your remote team works well together, respects each other, and that your company can benefit from having workers all across the nation—and the world.

Readers, do you have an international remote team? What advantages and disadvantages have your company faced when working across time zones? Let us know in the comments below!

By Jennifer Parris | October 12, 2016 

Jane Gonzalez
Associate Editor