Working in consulting, I experienced the first hand need for clear time tracking and time zone troubleshooting. Some consultants wear a watch with 2 or 3 time zones on it. Some aren’t so organized. But either way, we can’t spend our time counting hours on our fingers to decide whether or not it’s acceptable to call Cali at that moment.
I only spent a few months dealing with this time zone troubleshooting, but with experience with clients in every American time zone plus the UK and Australia, I found out quickly how important time zone troubleshooting can be, and even if it isn’t for you right now, I hope you’ll take something away from these tips:
- Set Clear Boundaries. Having a British client and an Australian client meant wakinge up to emails from the UK (their business day begins at 2:00am Central) and I went to sleep with emails from Australia (their business day begins at 5:00pm Central). I needed to be clear with these clients when they can and cannot expect a prompt response. For instance, I welcomed Australia calling me until 8:00pm, which is 11:00am their time. This wasn’t unreasonable for them or for me. And it made our exchanges easier and more direct.
- List everything in two zone language. Never send an email or calendar invite that says 4:00pm. Make sure you are explicit to say 4:00pm British Time, 10:00am Central Time. This will save a load of headaches for everyone.
- Understand each other. Working across time zones is all about relationship building. Talk via phone as often as possible so your emails don’t seemingly get lost in the abyss. Your open communication will save a thousand heart attacks when people think you’re not responding when in fact, you’re asleep.
I’ve yet to see how I’ll like this time zone issue years down the road. But it can be an exciting challenge to navigate in a career. And with my aspirations being to work heavily abroad, I’m going to have to learn it and learn it well.