How To Solve Time Zone Problems When Managing A Remote Team

how to solve time zone problems managing remote team global employees

Remote working is the future. Recent statistics from Global Workplace Analytics show that it’s what employees want, and studies have revealed that telecommuters are healthier, happier and more productive. For employers, the advantages are reduced costs, and access to the global talent pool; you don’t have to hope the best people live near your offices or are willing to relocate any longer. 

But working with digital nomads is different to managing an office-based team. One of those major differences is that your staff may be working in different time zones. While that can present challenges, here are some suggestions for working around that. 

Working Hours 

At Distant Job, we advise our clients to have set working hours. We think the simplest solution to the time zone problem is the most obvious one; just have everyone at work at the same time. You may think that staff won’t want to work ‘unsociable hours’ just to fit in with your office hours, but great remote workers are flexible by their nature. You might even find that they prefer to work your hours, giving them days free for a better work/life balance. 

Make It Work 

The alternative is to make the time difference work for you. For example, If you assemble a team of remote software developers that crosses multiple time zones, it’s possible to operate a relay system, ensuring that you have staff cover for up to 24 hours a day. Imagine customer service or software development still going on while you sleep, and not waking up to backlogs? Sounds great, doesn’t it? 


Remote teams thrive on great communication, and that’s especially true if your staff are in different time zones. Making sure that everyone knows what they should be doing is vital, here are a few of our favourite tools for making remote 

• Scheduler 

Working out the best time for a meeting when you have staff around the globe can be brain boggling. Tools like make it simple to make sure that you’re not expecting Jerry to miss Happy Hour. 

• Project Management 

There are plenty of online project management tools that allow your team to stay in touch with the status of a project from anywhere in the globe. Tools like Trello, Asana, Wrike and more offer apps for mobile devices as well as access via web browser so there’s really no excuse for anyone to be out of touch. 

What you’re really looking for, for remote work, is for tools that prevent any stalling of the work. If you have cascading tasks, you want them to be added to to-do lists as soon as the first piece is completed. 

• Communication Plan 

It’s important to be very clear with a remote team about your communication expectations. They also need to know which channels are available, and when they should use them. A good communication plan includes the right way for your team to raise urgent and non-urgent queries with others. 

You’ll need both synchronous (all online at the same time) and asynchronous tools. Most teams uses a combination of tools such as; email; Skype, Zoom or similar for voice and video call; and chat applications such as Slack. 

There are even tools to help you run ‘face to face’ meetings such as the daily stand-up advocated as part of the Agile Remote Development Methodology. A Slack chat bot, Geekbot, will manage that for you. 

• Team Bonding 

When you’re looking at communication tools, don’t overlook ways that your team can connect in a more social way. Remote working can feel isolating, so ensuring that there is a strong sense of team identity and opportunities to socialise will help negate that. This can be a dedicated water-cooler channel, a team-curated Spotify playlist or getting together to play online games. 

Manage Your Remote Team The Right Way

Managing a remote team is really no different to managing any other team. Although your staff may be located around the world, it’s still possible to bring them together using the tools available. With advances being made in VR, you can expect remote teams to connect in different way in the near future. But for now? Recruit the right people and use the available tools and you’ll soon see why remote working is the fastest growing employment sector just now.

With nearly two decades of experience running three companies - and doing so 100% from his computer - Sharon Koifman has studied and researched not only how to operate remote businesses but how to create an amazing work culture, one where people love to come to work. These days Sharon runs DistantJob in Canada, a boutique staffing agency specializing in finding full-time remote employees who work from all over the world.

The Lean Startup Life Media Network Newest Blog Posts: