Collaborating across the time zones

By: Hannah Speck Categories: Culture & engagement, Learning, development & personal growth, Team News

Written on the 7th March 2024

I really enjoy working with people from different backgrounds and cultures, so it’s great that our work at Juniper involves several international clients. It’s always fascinating to join a virtual meeting with a global or regional team and hear what’s happening in their part of the world. While it’s incredibly rewarding, this can also come with its challenges. For example, coordinating with a project team across several time zones takes additional consideration and I always try to be mindful of different working hours.

I’ve listed some of my key learnings and observations below:

  • It can be helpful to use planning and scheduling tools where multiple time zones are involved. For example, I’ve always used this World Clock Meeting Planner from which allows you to quickly and easily see the suitable times that fall within reasonable working hours.

  • In my experience, it is best to be as specific and exact as possible when agreeing times. This includes confirmation of the start and end time of a meeting, ideally in a 24-hour time format, and with the time zone(s) clearly stated.

  • I’ve also learned it’s important to be aware of holiday dates so we can plan around them. This includes national holidays from the different countries involved, as well as asking if the team has annual leave that we need to be aware of.

  • When working with people from different cultural backgrounds, I try to be aware of the impact this may have on their working styles and preferences. For example, some cultures tend to communicate more directly, while others can be more implicit. Where possible, I aim to adapt my style accordingly.

  • In conversation, we often use colloquialisms that might not be understood by someone who is not a native speaker. I try to be aware of this and use ‘International English’ as much as possible. During our regular project calls with one client, if we use a word or phrase that is not understood we turn this into our “Word of the Day!” and will offer to share the meaning or definition.

In summary, working with international teams is a continuous learning experience. It helps to be open to new ways of doing things; to consistently think ahead, and to remain aware of the potential challenges and opportunities to collaborate to solve them.

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash