Collaboration and communication drive mobile workers and global business
For most companies, business is no longer restricted to a single time zone.
In fact, it is common for even small companies to have some type of global footprint, be it a global support team for technological issues or an overseas manufacturing plant. Even when a company’s operations aren’t global, it’s extremely common that they have clients around the world. All of these things are great except when you have to deal with scheduling meetings with employees and clients living in 24 different time zones.
Be aware of the time difference
This is the probably the simplest and most fundamental way to look at your dispersed teams. I’m sure managers of global teams accidentally ask teammates to dive into meetings, only to realize they’re at the end of their workday. Moreover, it’s particularly important to remember the time zones of all involved when scheduling and confirming appointments or setting deadlines. A slip can lead to missed meetings, missed deadlines, and overall communication confusion.
Encourage seamless communication
Quick responses to emails and queries definitely keep our businesses going, but what happens when part of your team lives on the opposite side of the globe? You can’t expect them to email you back in the middle of the night or at the wee hours. However, there will be times you have to communicate an urgent update or other information they need to know and understand before they can complete that day’s tasks. A simple way to ensure visibility in their cluttered inbox is to schedule your emails to be sent at a later time, closer to when their day starts, making it among the first few emails in their inbox.
Better yet, work out a time that’s comfortable for the maximum number of people on your team. If that means leaving out one or two teammates whose times zones are way too different to be accommodated in one slot, let it be. Create a second slot with these people and those who need to communicate with them. Ensure everyone knows about these “optimum time” windows, to help keep your entire team on the same page, no matter where they live.
True digital collaboration starts with communication
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Use the right collaboration tools
Collaboration is no longer confined to the boardroom. It’s where we are. However, many generations still rely on first generation collaboration tools, like email or conference calls, and miss out on the better productivity features of newer solutions. Video collaboration is one of the best ways to save time and money while preserving the ‘human’ element necessary for clear, concise communication. Mobile-based collaboration also allows traveling employees to connect seamlessly using voice, video and instant messaging from anywhere. Use the right tools to plan your team’s schedule, and provide ample wiggle room for flexible hours, especially when dealing with multiple time zones. This way everyone gets to make the most of their workday.
It’s no longer just big corporations doing multinational business; even small businesses and start-ups collaborate from every corner of the world. With the right planning in place, and through the use of effective collaboration solutions, businesses of all sizes can leverage a widely dispersed workforce to create and support a global business network.