Working across timezones might not be a hassle if someone works at two different timezones, with only one to six hours differences. We can easily find many overlap hours to have virtual meetings. You don’t have to work at unusual times if you work in London or Amsterdam, and your colleague is in Bangkok or Jakarta.
However, it gets challenging to align your working hours with colleagues spread across the globe – with multiple timezones. It is pretty complex how your mind has to be faster in remembering and calculating your supervisor and colleague’s timezone in the United States and the United Kingdom to set up some meetings. Sometimes, you cannot participate in some agenda since it is allocated way past your bedtime. It is what I have experienced during these past one and half in transitioning as a Fellow in Blended Fellowship Program.
Fortunately, I have a super considerate supervisor and a fantastic team to work with in this adaptation process. If you will or are currently experienced in working across timezones, I hope my two cents will be helpful.
Visualize the multiple timezones
It usually takes time for me to start thinking in multiple timezones – especially if I have to schedule a meeting. We also have to be more mindful of our colleagues’ timezone – whether it is inclusive and makes sense to schedule an appointment for other colleagues in different timezones. For someone in Indonesia, with your supervisor in the United Kingdom and the United States, I find planning a meeting would be tricky.
Utilizing tools like a shared calendar (Google Calendar, you save my life!) that can automatically set the timezone based on each person’s timezone would be very helpful. Keep your calendar up to date, so you or your colleague do not need to ask you first if they want to propose a meeting.
To start converting your timezone, use freeconvert.com or everytimezon.com are also worth considering. You can sync it with all the gadgets that you use to work. To keep track of your team’s working hours, you can also use timezone.io. This tool can assist you in proposing meeting times in your colleagues’ timezones; thus, they don’t have to do the conversion.
Set your boundaries
At the beginning of your work as a Fellow, communicate about your working hours – and be assertive about this matter. When you set boundaries, you will be able to set up some times to break, meetings, and focus time. If it’s past your working hours, it is also tolerable for you to decline some appointments, if there are any. Setting some boundaries will help you not burn out from all the workloads quickly.
Communicate clearly about overlapped working hours
Before you start serving the host organization, you should also be communicative with the overlapped working hours with your supervisor and colleagues. From 8 hours working, I usually use 4 hours to focus on my task and brainstorm, whereas the other 4 hours are overlapping working hours to do some meetings and catch up with the team. Don’t also forget to drop your supervisor a message for a heads up if there is an ongoing issue that makes it impossible to catch up in the overlapped working hours.
Keep the notes and maximize project management tools
Notes to manually record the updates and follow-up actions of every meeting will help you if you cannot attend some meetings.
It is also beneficial for me to note down the follow-up actions in the meeting in project management tools – like Trello, Monday, or Notion to stay organized and keep my team posted on the work that has been going on.
Ask for recordings
Some notes are not comprehensive enough without the meetings’ recordings. You can still understand a person’s reaction to some ideas and listen to the actual conversations. So, don’t forget to ask for recordings if you cannot attend some meetings.
Know when to be flexible
Lastly, if there are some crucial meetings or workshops that are organized past your bedtime and you feel fear of missing out (FOMO!), I usually communicate this matter to my supervisor. Then, I take a break to sleep earlier than my working hours and later catch up with the meetings that will happen late in my time.
I hope all the points are helpful, as I am also still conquering the multiple timezones while serving remotely as a Fellow. I am open to discussion about this matter, and you can nudge me at firstname.lastname@example.org.