How We Successfully Manage Teams Across Time Zones

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Does your team consist of individuals who are scattered all over the world? That’s awesome! Whether you’re a part of a small organization or a huge corporation, having international team members can boost productivity, creativity, and cross-cultural understanding in the workplace. However, having team members across time zones comes with many challenges. One of them is the risk of communication problems.

Don’t be afraid of this risk! AIESEC has tons of experience regarding international team management. We have people from all around the world working in several teams that work virtually across numerous time zones.

From our own experience, we have gathered these tips so you can keep your team on the same page without having a headache.

woman smiling waving in front of her tablet, in an online meeting

1. Prepare the collaboration tools

The first step to managing a successful international team is to prepare the collaboration tools you need. There are several platforms you can use for free: Google Drive, Zoom, Slack, Telegram, etc are here to help your international team to operate. Whichever you decide to choose, make sure that it’s accessible for all your team members.

2. Conduct an onboarding meeting

An onboarding meeting is a perfect time to make sure that all your team members understand their responsibilities. This is also the chance for your members to get to know each other. Ask about your members’ expectations & concerns regarding their role and even their hobbies, birthdays, and other fun facts.

3. Have your members put their schedule on an online calendar

Make sure that you keep notes of each member’s time zone. Furthermore, ask your members to put their daily schedule on an online platform like Google Calendar. This way, you know what time they’re off-limits. It will be easier to plan meetings and O2O sessions when you have their schedules in hand.

person holding a tablet, opening their schedule

4. Schedule consistent meetings

After you acquired your team members’ schedules, it’s time to analyze the perfect day and time for a routine meeting. This meeting can be held weekly or bi-weekly, depending on your team’s needs. Consistent meetings are crucial to a successful team because it’s the space where your members can share their ideas and concerns while everyone is present.

5. Remember to respect others’ time zones

You know how time zones work: when it’s morning for you, it could be midnight for your members. Therefore, do not expect your members to reply to you in 5 minutes. Avoid contacting at the last minute. Give your members ~24 hours time window to respond to your messages.

6. Team Bonding Days

If possible, try to schedule one day each month for your team to have fun. You can conduct virtual bonding activities such as playing online games, watching movies, or having quiz sessions about various topics. This way, your team will grow closer and work more efficiently together.

business woman casual clothes working in front of laptop

How do you manage your team so far? We hope these tips can help you to be an effective international team leader. Want to learn more about the future of work and leading virtual teams? Register for our flagship event dedicated to youth leadership – today – it’s free!


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