Tips for Working Remotely in a Different Timezone

One of the advantages of working with a remote team is that everyone can work in different timezones. But this can also be a problem if the team works in several different timezones. With the following remote job tips, you can alleviate some of the pain that comes with working in a different timezone.

1.) Understand the Work Expectations

Some companies make it clear from the start that there’s an expected “timezone overlap”. Some companies tolerate a 3 hours timezone difference while others tolerate more or less. Generally, most companies prefer that you work in the same country, but there are exceptions. Before you take on a new remote job, you should be aware of what the expected timezone overlap is.

Working with a team always requires some synchronous communication. This means that there will be video calls and chat discussions in which you’re expected to be “online” so that you can communicate with the team in realtime. While most activities are performed asynchronously- by leaving messages for team members to view later at their convenience- weekly meetings are generally held through a video call in which most team members participate.

2.) Internalize your Team’s Timezone

Being aware of the team’s timezone is important. Remote teams usually operate according to one timezone.

For example, if team calendar says “Monday at 10:30AM EST”, everyone knows exactly when that meeting will take place. It’ll be according to Eastern time. People in New York will attend the meeting at 10:30AM while those in California will attend the same meeting at 7:30AM. Ideally, you should be able to mentally convert from the team’s timezone to your own local timezone with ease.

Working internationally

This can get pretty interesting when you’re working on a different continent. For example, if you work with a US team while you’re in Asia, the schedule might be almost entirely flipped. 10AM New York time would convert to 10PM Bangkok time. You’ll also need to be cognizant of daylight savings time as that will offset your work time by an hour in either direction.

Observed holidays is another interesting facet of remote work. If you work for a US company, then they will generally observe US holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, even if that’s not celebrated in your home country. Likewise, if you live outside the US and there’s a national holiday in your home country- it won’t be officially observed by the US company, though you may be granted holiday if you ask.

3.) Structure Your Day Around the Team’s Timezone

It’s not just about having a good mental grasp of the timezones. It’s also about structuring your daily life around that timezone difference. These next remote job tips can help with working in various timezones.

Working in an earlier timezone

If your local timezone is a few hours earlier than the team’s timezone, that means your work day will start earlier and end earlier. If you’re not a morning person, it will be tough to maintain this schedule. You’ll need to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. Social activities should be scheduled earlier in the afternoon and evening to help reduce the chances of staying up too late and missing your morning meeting.

Working in a later timezone

If your local timezone is several hours ahead of the team’s timezone, then you may end up working at night, and possibly into the wee hours of the early morning. In this case, you should make sure that you don’t tire yourself out during the day. Take a 2 or 3 hour nap before you start work so that you’re refreshed during work hours.

4.) Be Consistent and Courteous

When working with a remote team, it’s good to pay attention to how you and your team utilize time. These next remote job tips will help to explain why.

Be consistent in your work hours

Your team will want to have a good idea of when you’ll come online and when you’ll go offline. It’s good etiquette to be consistent in when you log on and off. That way, the team can know when is the appropriate time to engage a conversation with you, and when to postpone it for the next day.

Be courteous towards your team’s work hours

On the other hand, it’s good to acknowledge the work schedule of your team members too. For example, if Jane usually logs off at 2PM EST, then you should schedule any meetings with her accordingly. If you ask to hop on a call with her at 1:58PM, then the conversation may end up dragging on and she’ll have to stay online longer than expected. It would be especially unfortunate on a Friday. Be kind and communicate early.

5.) Stay Healthy

Working remotely from home in a different timezone than the rest of your team means that your day will be structured differently than most people. When working a non-traditional schedule, it will quickly become important to pay special attention to your health.

Maintain a Schedule

Maintaining a healthy eating schedule and squeezing in social activities can be challenging when you work different hours than your friends and family. But those are things that you have to work around in order to maintain good physical and mental health.

How you handle this depends entirely on what your work schedule is like. Whether you start work early in the morning or later at night- make sure that your sleeping patterns are consistent. Sleeping and waking up at the same time each day will help to regulate your body’s internal clock.

Protect your Eyes

Working on the computer at night for long hours can be detrimental to your eyes without the proper precautions. For example, you might have noticed that if you’re in a dark unlit room while the computer screen is set to a bright setting, then it causes strain on the eyes.

It’s recommended to turn on some lights in the room so that it matches the brightness of your screen. Or you can reduce the brightness of your screen to match the room. However, you’ll find that a higher screen brightness is more comfortable because the contrast of text makes it easier to read.

You also may want to consider purchasing computer glasses. A pair of good computer glasses reduces the amount of blue light that enters your eyes, increases contrast, and reduces glare- which helps to reduce eye strain.

How will you deal with timezones?

Differing timezones is a problem that’s unique to remote work. It can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. By following these remote job tips, you should be able to overcome the challenges that come with working in a different timezone.

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