As the #WFA lifestyle spreads into the mainstream, the once-foreign concept of working with colleagues on opposite sides of the globe doesn't sound so out-of-the-ordinary (even better, it no longer requires an 8- to 18-hour flight). In fact, as the remote revolution continues, nearly three-quarters of companies have employees in multiple time zones.
In the post-pandemic world, we may never get back to "business as usual," but we get something even better — business without borders. Here at FPS, we've had a location-agnostic perspective on hiring since we started, and we feel our team has flourished because of it.
Of course, before you see the silver lining, you have to weather the storm cloud. In this case, as the rate of cross-time zone hiring continues to rise, so too do those reporting it as a major barrier to remote work.
As you can see above, working across time zones was noted as one of the top struggles of remote work. Even more concerning, that number is up more than 10 percent over the previous year.
We'll explore why we believe hiring across time zones is best for remote teams, but first, let's push through that storm cloud and tackle the downsides of managing a globally distributed team.
Challenges of Hiring Across Time Zones
Whether you're a digital nomad seeking a job that allows you to travel the world or a hiring manager ready to tap into a global talent pool, you're sure to experience some of these unique challenges of hiring (or being hired) across time zones.
The success of an international team hinges on effective communication and collaboration, but when one colleague is just starting their workday while another is getting ready for bed, that becomes a major challenge.
It doesn't help when distributed companies haven't instituted an asynchronous communication policy.
Async communication is critical to working across time zones, and having a process in place will ensure employees know how and when to communicate.
Syncing Meeting Schedules
Honestly, this is more of a pro than a con for us, as we think most meetings could have been emails (or video recordings, or voicemails, or scheduled DMs...you get the idea). But the fact remains that meetings are sometimes a necessary evil, and though video conferencing platforms like Zoom have made it easier than ever, it's still a hassle. Throw in several team members across incompatible time zones, and it can be a nightmare.
The workaround is only scheduling meetings when they're an absolute must, only requiring attendance from those who are essential, and then recording and distributing the meeting for anyone who isn't able to attend live.
It's not a revelation that remote workers are lonelier than their in-person counterparts. But when you add in a barrier like a 12-hour time difference, it becomes an even more significant challenge. Coworkers who never get to chat in real time can feel disconnected, not just from one another, but from their work as a whole.
To counter this, work on building a solid remote culture. Encourage video messaging when possible, and set core hours for those in similar time zones, so they'll know who's on at the same time they are. If that's not possible, you may also consider adding in a perk like a membership at a local coworking facility so they can be around other professionals and stave off the remote work loneliness.
Remote workers can feel as if they're "always on," especially when they're receiving messages, work requests, and emails from colleagues in other time zones during their downtime. This can lead to professional burnout, which takes a very real and often severe toll on their mental and physical health.
There are many ways to prevent burnout, but you first need to be aware of the signs. It's also important to help employees manage notifications, working hours, and expectations so they aren't feeling strained during their off hours. You may also want to offer mental health support and resources as a benefit to employees.
Hopefully, by understanding how to prevent many of these challenges, you can focus on all the perks of hiring across time zones. And trust us, there are plenty:
Benefits of Hiring from Different Time Zones
First, let's look at some of the benefits to the remote employees you're hiring. Because you aren't just widening your talent pool, you're allowing them to expand their own horizons. In fact, location freedom is reported as the number two benefit of remote work. When they can work from anywhere, they enjoy more flexibility, more autonomy, and more job satisfaction.
But what about hiring managers? Why should you be looking past borders when seeking new talent?
Get the Best of the Best
You aren't just looking at a talent pool a few miles (or even a few hundred miles) wide — you're looking at the entire world of experienced professionals in the role you're trying to fill. So you'll have greater opportunities to get the best — not the best in your state or the best in the U.S., but the best talent across the globe.
Diversify Your Team
Diversity in the workplace is more important than ever, and there's no better way to get it than to hire candidates that represent different cultures and backgrounds. In fact, a diverse team of global employees can contribute significantly to your remote work culture, and it can improve feelings of collaboration and community.
Bolster Your Brand Perception
Having a global team means that no matter the time or day, someone is nearly always available. That gives clients or customers the impression that you're a robust and thriving brand (which you are!). In fact, some companies have even used international phone numbers in their contact information to give exactly that same impression. They do it as a marketing tactic, but when you actually have employees in those locations, it's legit.
Get More Out of Your Employees
Async communication fosters productivity, as it allows for times of deep focus. And when your employees aren't hampered by meetings, constant notifications, and worries about being instantly available, they'll likely get more done. Best of all, they can do it while maintaining better work/life harmony, which leads to healthier, happy employees. Additionally, you'll get more ideas, creativity, and innovation out of a more diverse team.