Aug 31
woman wearing a scarf looking at the different clocks

Proper Etiquette When Working Across Different Time Zones

When you work remotely, there’s a pretty good chance that the team you will work with or be assigned to won’t always be made up of people who live two or three cities over. More often than not, teams usually consist of people from different countries who have a particular time schedule to collaborate.

Now, there are certain things one can and cannot (or should not) do when collaborating with coworkers who live in a different time zone. There are also things one should take into account the obvious differences that working across great distances can bring, not to mention the time differences both sides may have.

Understand Time Differences

a man looking at his watch

First, we will discuss the most obvious issue. The time differences for countries on different sides of the planet is possibly hard to keep track of. For example, the time in Australia is two hours ahead compared to the Philippines, so both parties should consider this difference when making plans or when contacting one another. Scheduling meetings with these time differences should not be too hard due to the small calculation needed to determine the time on either side. However, when organizing meetings, it isn’t a bad idea to ask for your coworker’s availability to ensure that your coworker is indeed within reach of work and not on lunch break.

It may be easy to forget that the person you are collaborating with within Australia may not also be up at 10:30 in the evening, and is, instead, catching up on sleep. Thus, calls should have an agreed-upon time when either side is available. Organizing a meeting may be confusing if the time being used is not specified, a meeting arranged in the Philippines for nine o’clock may go unanswered in another country because they are an hour in advance. Reminding one another of the time difference can help alleviate this and help prevent any inconveniences from moving forward.

Specify Currencies

different currencies

When working with someone from another country, it’s a safe bet that they do not share the same currency that your country uses. The US Dollar is still the most widely used currency, many countries have implemented its use instead of their own currency. However, countries like India and the Philippines still use their own currencies, with foreign money often being changed to their country’s native currency. When the topic being discussed involves money, specifying that a client would be paying 100 dollars would still raise some questions such as ‘American Dollars or Australian?’ Being specific with the currency being used would also help with conversion to a colleague’s native currency.

Be Considerate of Other Cultures

people sitting around the table

Working with a colleague from another country can have a different set of customs that may seem unorthodox by your standards. As an example, in some countries, it may be considered rude to go straight to business without having small talk beforehand.

For example, your culture may value and prioritize speed rather than thoroughness when making decisions, where your culture would like a quick response to the options being presented. Your overseas colleague may take his or her time in making that decision, not out of unwillingness to decide, but rather wanting to think things over so no backtracking would be necessary once a decision gets made.

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