Overcoming the Time Zone Challenge When Working with VAs
Bringing a VA into your remote team mix can sometimes mean working across time zone. That’s part of the beauty of remote work, after all. You — and your team — can work from anywhere! But this also creates a few challenges, namely in the way you communicate.
When several time zones separate you and your VA, any misalignments in collaboration become amplified. What’s more, it’s easier for both sides to feel disconnected from each other.
How can you set the stage for successful international collaboration? Here are some of our best tips for overcoming the time zone challenge.
Calculate Your Time Zone Deficit
Know your starting point. If you’ve hired a VA, find out what time zone they’re in and figure out the difference between you. If you’re in New York and your VA is in the Philippines, then you have a 12-hour time difference.
Something else to keep in mind is the date. Not only are you working across different time zones, but also different dates (sometimes). Keep the date challenge in mind when setting deadlines for tasks and projects.
Decide on Blackout Hours
Both you and your team of VAs should have boundaries when it comes to time. No one on your team should feel pressured to attend every meeting, especially if meeting times are set outside of a person’s local business hours.
The best practice here is to keep an open, honest dialogue about what’s feasible for real-time collaboration and what’s not. Some VAs keep different working hours than the typical 9-to-5, so get to know each other’s schedules and preferences. In some cases, you might record a video or take notes to share with VAs that can’t sit in on a meeting.
This is also an important factor when expecting responses to questions or communication. For example, if you send your VA an email at 12 pm your time, you might not get a reply until you’ve left the office for the day. Plan your communications accordingly and keep your expectations reasonable.
Choose a Common Time Denominator
To avoid confusion, pick a common time denominator when setting meetings and deadlines. This lets everyone know the designated time zone so they can calculate accordingly. This is especially helpful when you have a team of remote workers scattered around the globe.
For example, if you email your team and ask for a report by 5 pm, make sure they know whether you’re talking about 5 pm your time or 5 pm their time. Don’t leave this open to interpretation!
Expect and Prepare for Delays
Time zone challenges are common with remote work. Even with good processes in place, nothing is ever completely foolproof. To avoid confusion, go ahead and expect that there might be delays in communication and turnaround times at some point. Build a little extra time into your projects so that if a delay occurs, you still have a little wiggle room.
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