Time zone Tips for Long Distance Business Relationships

This video from Scatterwork is about time zone tips for long distance business relationships. There are many complicating factors: time zones and also cultures which we cover in a separate video.

Regarding time zones, one of the things that we can do is to set Ground Rules. For example, if we’re in Europe and we have colleagues in Asia and we have meetings in the middle of our day, it will be their evening, maybe when they are trying to go home at the end of the day. It makes sense to agree what each other’s time limits are. The same applies if you’re in the Americas and you’re dealing with Europe.

So work out what the windows of overlap are which are acceptable to all the parties and stick to them.

Another tip is to know each other’s schedules, for example people have different starting and finishing times depending where they are and the local habits.

One example is that in Spain lunch doesn’t usually start until three in the afternoon. The further north you go in Europe, the earlier it is. In Norway for example you might get your lunch at 11 o’clock and they’re actually in the same time zone. So so if we know each other’s schedules it makes it easier to match people’s comfort.

Another thing we can do is minimize the need for time overlap. If we have to share data maybe we could do this through a shared document or a wiki, so that we don’t have to be online at the same time. That means that the time that we are on line is used for things that can only be done face-to-face or at least on online together.

And that brings us to the fourth tip: get the best out of every meeting. When we have meetings online, let’s not waste them by turning up late, microphones that don’t work, chat that’s off topic and so on. It really is hard for people to get time to work together so probably time together should be respected.

So if you want to discuss these or any of your own project issues, please connect with me. I look forward to talking to you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

Avoid Virtual Team Mix-Ups

Hello! This short video from Scatterwork is about avoiding virtual team mix-ups.

I’m talking about the sort of situation where the team is carrying out some work, maybe a project, and the participants are not all together all the time; in other words some of the work is carried out virtually.

And any work requires coordination so not only does the work need to be done but we need to communicate:

“OK I’ve finished this bit; you can do the next bit now”.

And if the communication is poor or if the communication is wrong or if it’s misunderstood or if indeed the thing that should have been delivered isn’t delivered – all of those situations lead to people at the other end getting annoyed or upset because they’re not getting what they expect.

My personal experience is that if there is communication, for example a telephone line between participants in different parts of the world, and it doesn’t work, the person who speaks thinks that the person at the other end is the problem even though the problem maybe somewhere in between.

Instinctively we think if we talk to somebody “well if they don’t understand and I’m talking properly then it’s their fault”.

But it could be the system in between. So we can get into really mixed up situations that can be very hard to get out of.

So the question is “what’s a possible approach to solving that” and here we’re talking about personal skills. They’re often called soft skills but I could mention many of them.

One of them is active listening, for example,

“tell me exactly what the issue is and I’m going to listen and interact with you until I understand what you’re talking about. I’m not going to do emails at the same time or be doing some of the work in the background you looking over your shoulder. I’m just going to listen.”

Another skill is presentation skills.

I’ve seen so many projects where you get spaghetti type PowerPoint slides saying we’re doing this, that and the
other thing.

And they might be visually wonderful but it’s very, very hard to understand what they doing so another’s personal skill is to sift out what the real issues are and to present them very, very clearly in some sort of graphical format.

And other personal or inter-personal skill is negotiation because if we discovered that what we wanted and what the person gets is not the same then we have to work out “what are we going to do now?” and negotiation is it what happens.

People say “could we do this or could we do that?” and so on. So competence in negotiation is also very useful in that sort of situation.

And there are others, so the summary is to avoid mix-ups in virtual teams, it can make sense to invest in personal skills of the individuals involved and of course then they get the benefit of having those skills for use elsewhere in life as well so it’s something that everyone wins from.

Thanks very much!

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.