My oh my. Someone please pass me the dusting brush and get the cobwebs off this blog! I’m hoping to pick up my efforts in checking in here more frequently. Not that it’s been that long since my last post, but It has been a crazy 5 months of growth and changes. I hope that things are cracking along nicely for you.
In the constant search for ways to make the lives of my clients easier (and me, I guess), I thought that it might be valuable to post about working across different international time zones and encourage people to chime in and discuss.
The foundation of collaborating effectively internationally is most certainly communication. When you start working with a new client, don’t assume that they know the timezone you are based in. If they’re international, I try to let my contact know what sort of clock I operate on. I don’t worry too much about Eastern/Pacific unless it is absolutely necessary. Should I?
Make sure you refer to at least one time zone when you mention a date or time
For the love of GMT, make sure you in some way specify the time zone (UK time, “my” time, “your” time etc.) you are referring to when you tell someone that you will have a project or part of it delivered by a certain time.
Have like, 20 clocks on your wall
Nah, not really. Instead…
Use this website
Timeanddate.com is a fantastic resource for dealing with different timezones. Not only can you establish what time it is somewhere else at that very moment, but you can also type in a future time/date, and find out what time it will be for you or the other person.
Sign-off for the day
This isn’t always essential, but if you’re working with a client on a project and you’re leaving the studio or hitting the hay for the night, let them know that you’re done for the day. They may still have 5 working hours left. It’s a nice courtesy so that they know not to expect any work from you until tomorrow.
Yeah, communicate like crazy
If you have limits, make them known. It’s great if you are a 24/7 business and can help out your clients any time, but not everyone can do that. If you are only available until midday their time, let them know. It’s much better to be honest than to have someone assume that you can deliver at 4 a.m. I can, but only if I’m playing a zombie suffering from laryngitis.
So. What works for you?
Good topic and good tips! I have clients in Malaysia, Australia and the Eastern United States. I use the timeanddate website too, it is great for converting in a hurry and it is easy to cut and paste the time conversion into an email to my clients. They always seem to appreciate knowing what time it is for me. I also recently realized that if you right click on the time on your computer you can actually add clocks there. So convenient to have all three clocks at my fingertips.
I’ve also found that now that I’m working in all three time zones it actually lets me liven up my schedule instead of working 9-5. For example, I can take the morning off and begin my work day later. Working in several time zones actually creates flexibility!
Yes, I know on Mac you can also add multiple clock faces to your desktop and most smartphones have a ‘world clock’.
That’s a good point about the flexible schedule. I find that sometimes it is equally important to take a big break in the middle of the day if you have appointments/bookings in the morning and then something late at night. Don’t want to burn out that candle!