5 Tips to Handle Time Zone Differences with Outsourced Offshore Teams

Managing outsourced offshore teams can be challenging, especially with
time zone differences. Learn five practical tips to handle these challenges and improve communication and productivity.

In today’s global economy, working with outsourced offshore teams has become commonplace due to its significant advantages like cost reduction, increased flexibility, and access to talented teams. However, managing these teams comes with its own set of challenges, one often sighted challenge with offshoring is dealing with time zone differences. 

Different time zones can make it hard to communicate and work together, which can slow down projects and make them less efficient if it’s not handled properly. How can you ensure seamless communication and maintain productivity when your team is spread across different time zones? Here are five practical tips to help you handle time zone differences effectively. 


5 Tips to Handle Time Zone Differences 


Tip #1 Set Clear Expectations and Define Requirements 

First and foremost, you should set clear expectations around responsibilities, communication, and availability. Define and communicate objectives, and long-term goals to your offshore team to keep them on the same page as your in-house people. Make sure tasks and responsibilities are allocated clearly and appropriately, so everyone knows what they should do and when they should be doing. This prevents the need for clarification, and potential duplication of tasks. You can schedule regular check-ins with your offshore team to ensure that everyone is on the same page and any updates are communicated clearly. 


Tip#2 Establish a Robust Communication Plan 

Create a plan that outlines daily, weekly, and monthly communication schedules and deadlines. This helps align your offshore team with your expectations and ensures everyone is aware of their responsibilities. To help in easing communication and collaboration, try organizing a small time overlap between time zones to be used for critical meetings, work sessions, and performance reviews.  

Use communication technology to facilitate communication between team members from different parts of the world. Consider using tools like email, video conferencing, and instant messaging software to keep everyone connected and on the same page. You can also use scheduling software like Connecteam and TimeClock Plus to help sync all your team member’s availability. 


Tip#3 Utilize Project Management and Collaboration Tools 

Several collaboration tools in the market can help boost productivity and reduce timezone-related communication issues. There are different types of tools ranging from project and task management tools like Trello and Asana, online whiteboard software like Miro, file sharing tools like Dropbox and Google Drive, and many others that can fit your specific needs or niche in your industry. Having a solid set of these collaboration tools will make your offshore team members more productive and less dependent on your in-house team. 


Tip #4 Encourage Flexibility and Set Realistic Deadlines 

There are some limits on your access to your offshore talents and being okay with these limits is the best way to deal with them. Be willing to adapt your working hours to overlap with your offshore team’s schedule. This flexibility can foster a harmonious work environment and better collaboration. 

Deadlines should also be adjusted in consideration of the time differences with your offshore team. Plan and allocate enough time for communication and planning to minimize delays and disruptions. 

illustration showing Asynchronous Work

You might also want to consider asynchronous work. Asynchronous work allows team members to work on tasks independently and at different times. This flexibility can be particularly useful when managing outsourced offshore teams. 


Tip #5 Understand and Respect Cultural Differences 

It’s essential to be understanding of offshore staff and their surroundings. Recognize that your offshore team may have different holidays and cultural practices. Being considerate of these differences when organizing work commitments and communication schedules can improve team morale and cooperation.  


Wrapping Up 

It can be hard to manage an offshore team that works in different time zones, but it can be done well with the right method and best practices. By following these tips, you can tackle these challenges and even enhance the productivity of your offshore team and integrate them more effectively into your company’s culture. For expert assistance in optimizing your offshore development team’s productivity and integration into your company’s culture, contact us today!