How to Work From Another Time Zone

By Tiffany Mast

If you’re traveling for work there’s likely going to be a time change that will effect your working hours. Particularly if your business trip is international. Here are six tips to keep your work schedule running smoothly while you work from another time zone, no matter how big the time difference.

Make a decision about which time zone to apply to your calendar.

If you keep your calendar in your home time zone, you have a good sense of what’s going on back at the office but may make miscalculations when mentally converting meeting times to your local time zone. Especially if you have more than a few hours difference.

Alternatively, by switching to your calendar to your local time zone, you can get a good sense of which meetings you can realistically make. Plus, adjusting to the local time can help to beat jet lag if you have traveled far. Which ever route you go, make a decision and stick with it to avoid silly mix-ups.

Determine the best overlapping business hours.

Depending on the time zone differences, determine which business hours in your local time zone overlap with business hours in your home time zone.

When I traveled to Australia and New Zealand, I stacked all of my meetings in the morning, got some work done before lunch and then headed out to explore in the afternoon. In the evening I’d come back and wrap up any tasks I needed to finish for the day.

When traveling in Europe, our team loves to take the morning to explore, before logging in to work in the afternoon or evening. Whatever works best for you, just make sure you set a consistent schedule so your coworkers know when to find you.

Mark your offline hours on your calendar.

Along that line, it’s really helpful to mark your offline hours and “out of office” days on your calendar so those scheduling meetings or looking for you know you are out of pocket.

Plan ahead to make sure you can call in to meetings.

At one point or another, you are going to have to call in to meetings. If you are traveling internationally, make plans so you either have usable cell phone data or reliable wifi.

If you can’t make calls from your phone, schedule meetings using a video or audio conference. If your company doesn’t have video conferencing set up, Google Hangouts is a good free option. Pro tip: Turn off the video and just use audio if the wifi is weak.

Make clear plans for what you will be working on.

Before your trip, sketch out a plan for the things you will be working on. That way you can identify the things you need from others before you go, or you can prioritize tasks that can be done independently.

Online task boards and project management, like Asana, are really helpful for tracking work when all or part of your team is remote. It also makes it easy to reprioritizing tasks if an urgent item comes up.

Check in regularly.

The best way to maximize productivity and minimize confusion is to have regular check-ins scheduled throughout your trip. Whether that means popping in on slack each evening to give a daily recap or video conferencing every few days, you’ll have peace of mind and a sense of consistency by adding some structure to your work and travel schedule.

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