Entries in "time zones"

July 27, 2007

how to work across time zones

As a followup to my entry from last year about "how to use voicemail productively", I offer this entry about how to work productively and professionally with colleagues in other time zones.

1 - Inform your colleagues of your normal work hours, and if you anticipate the possibility that they may need to reach you outside of your normal hours, leave a clear message on your office voicemail about how to reach you outside of your normal work day.

2 - Be aware and respectful of your colleagues' normal work hours. For instance, do not leave a message after the end of business hours in your colleague's time zone, asking him or her to accomplish something by the start of business the next morning in your time zone. If your need is that urgent, you will already have your colleague's cellphone number. Keep calling till you reach a live person, and then apologize for intruding on their non-work hours.

3 - Be especially careful about calling a colleague's cellular or home phone in the wee hours of the morning. Aim to avoid this except in the most dire emergencies.

4 - Do not send emails about routine issues in the morning in your time zone, and then call three hours later asking why no reply has been sent to your email. It may still be the beginning of the work day for your colleague!

5 - Keep careful track of appointment times when you are tele- or video-conferencing. Make sure that each confirmation email lists the correct appointment time in all relevant time zones.

Without identifying the relocation company that has "helped" us "manage" our cross-country move, let's just say that they need to train their employees to follow these rules. Calling me at 7 pm my time to inform me that movers will be at my house the following morning at 8 am, and will expect payment in the form of a cashier's check -- that's *just* *not* *professional*. Likewise, calling my home number at 6:30 in the morning -- *promotes a *negative* *association* with your corporate brand.

You can read more of my rant about our moving experiences, focusing on the drama of dealing with "professional" unpacking assistance, over at Relocation: The Bane of Balance at Work-Life Chronicles (my new blog).