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4 ways to manage a team across time zones

It’s about respecting your colleagues—and having the right tools.

4 ways to manage a team across time zones
[Illustration: Romualdo Faura]
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1. Be extra clear

It doesn’t matter how well-connected people are if they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing. “It’s important to get all the key information out from the start,” says Stephanie Lee, team experience manager at social media consultancy Buffer, which employs a distributed workforce of 85 people across 15 countries.

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2. Select the right tools

Timeanddate.com, for example, “is a handy way for me to look at timing overlaps across the time zones we are in,” Lee says. “I just select the time zones of the people attending a meeting to find a suitable time.”

3. Deprioritize synchronous meetings

When the objective is “to make sure that as many people as possible can attend,” Lee says, offer more than one viewing opportunity. Buffer holds “half-sync” all-hands meetings, which she describes as “an all-hands watch party followed by breakout synchronous discussion groups.”

4. Time-block your days

Having a structure in place means you’ll spend less time looking at the clock and counting forward or back. “For example, 7 to 9 a.m. is for calls [in my time zone],” says Lee, who is based in Singapore. “Late afternoon is for calls with Europe.”

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About the author

Diana is an assistant editor for Fast Company's Work Life section. Previously, she was an editor at Vice and an editorial assistant at Entrepreneur

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