Saving time, money, and effort while adding diverse expertise to your software projects are just a few of the numerous benefits of offshoring (or expanding) your software development department. However, working across different time zones can also be challenging for some businesses, as it may create a barrier to effective communication and collaboration. With the right strategies and approaches in place, this challenge can easily be turned into an advantage. In this blog, we will explore how to overcome time zone differences and present them as an opportunity for successful collaboration.

Povio has been in the market for almost a decade now and has worked with companies from Auckland, New Zealand, all the way to San Francisco, USA. Despite our rich experience, new clients are sometimes skeptical of how we can make it work. They are usually worried about the communication flow, if they’ll be able to manage the project, or how we’re going to resolve any potential issues when our working days overlap just for a couple of hours.

Povio brings to the table nine years of experience working in different time zones, including how to communicate efficiently, set up clear processes, define workflows, be flexible, keep records, and a lot more. So here’s a breakdown of some of the strategies we use to deliver the best services while being 6 to 9 hours ahead (or behind) of our clients.

Strategies for Overcoming Time Zone Differences

Setting Clear Expectations — When starting to work with a client in software development who is located in a different time zone, it's crucial to set clear expectations from the get-go. It's essential to establish how communication will work, including what channels will be used and when and how often meetings will occur. Additionally, it's vital to clarify project milestones, timelines, and any other pertinent information. At Povio, we prioritize delivering results no matter the time zone, so we focus on working with our clients to find a communication and workflow strategy that works best for all parties involved.

Flexible Meeting Times — To accommodate different time zones, it's important to be flexible with meeting times. This means being willing to schedule meetings early in the morning or late in the evening to accommodate different time zones. To do so, we make available our working hours, time off, sick leave, national holidays, and any other kind of occurrence on our Google calendars, which we share with our clients. This makes it possible for everyone involved to see overlapping times and plan around them.

Regular Communication — Regular communication is essential for successful collaboration across time zones. This means setting up regular check-ins and keeping lines of communication open. There are a variety of scheduling tools available that can help with coordinating meetings across different time zones.

In the IT world, we’ve mastered asynchronous communication - working without direct contact with people. And this can be done by utilizing tools such as Slack or Meet and planning through Notion, Jira or Trello.

When it comes to proactive async communication, the best way to do so is via a Slack channel. The clients can get daily updates directly from the team so that they always know what's going on firsthand.

To ensure that communication remains effective and efficient, our team has a dedicated Project Manager who is the main point of contact between the client and the team. The Project Manager is always available to provide updates, answer questions, and address any concerns the client may have. Additionally, the Project Manager coordinates with the rest of the team to ensure that tasks are completed on time and that feedback is provided in a timely manner.

Agile Planning and Preparation Techniques — The idea of a 24/7 workflow can be a tad bit overwhelming. But when you collaborate with teams across different time zones, that comes naturally through agile planning and preparation. Some techniques we use for this are:

  • Grooming sessions (groom tickets) - doing sprint planning with the client (for two or more upcoming sprints),
  • Creating a confluence page in Jira to add the ticket’s ID,
  • Block planning - i.e. dealing with frontend tickets only,
  • Dummy data (test data) allow developers to test their code and functionality without relying on real data, which may not be available during the early stages of development,
  • A yearly roadmap based on milestones - setting major quarterly goals

To address potential clients' hesitation about the time zone difference, it's important to provide them with tips and advice for preparing for calls with our team. This includes what to expect in terms of scheduling and how to optimize communication for success.

Finally, it's essential to build trust and maintain clear communication. This means establishing a regular daily connection with clients in different time zones and being proactive in communication.

The takeaway

Working across different time zones can be challenging, but with the right strategies and approach, it can be turned into an advantage for successful collaboration. By adopting a mindset of openness, flexibility, and continuous learning, businesses can develop a successful culture of remote work that enables them to effectively collaborate with teams from all around the world. Thus, we can overcome time zone differences and achieve success in our collaboration.

Ultimately, the key to success in working across different time zones is to prioritize effective communication and maintain a strong sense of connection with your remote team. With the right approach and a commitment to ongoing learning and improvement, businesses can harness the power of global collaboration and drive innovation and growth in their organizations.

What's your tip for collaborating with remote teams across different time zones? :)