The internet has opened up a global market for freelancers. You can work for clients in different parts of the world. However, time zone differences have the potential of creating challenges in the successful delivery of a project. Read on for some tips on how you should be working with clients in different time zones:
1) Synchronize your schedule with your client’s:
Communication in real time can be tricky if your customer is in a different time zone. However, at times you will need to communicate in real time rather than depend on emails. Agree on a schedule which works for you and your client. Most employers will be reasonable if you give them an option to touch base at some point during their working hours. While doing this might mean late nights for you if you are on the other side of the world, it is imperative to be flexible to ensure smooth communication.
2) Use a single time zone for communication:
Whenever you schedule meetings, do so in one particular time zone and refer to that time zone for the entire project. Clients will love it if you use their time zone as that saves them from having to do calculations each time. But, you can also consider using GMT as that is acceptable universally.
3) Use tools to track timezone differences:
Keeping track of different time zones is not an easy task, especially if you have clients in multiple time zones. You can use any one of numerous tools which help you with timezone conversions. EasyClock, TimeZone Convertor and Time Trade are a few examples of such tools which will make your life easier.
4) Use calendaring tools in an efficient manner:
Google Calendar allows you to set appointments in your client’s time zone as well as yours. Doing so will allow both parties to stay on top of time zone differences in the case of meetings. Other tools which are helpful are World Clock Meeting Planner and Calendly. With technology out there to help make your life simpler, you can tackle time zone differences in a smooth fashion.
5) Set boundaries:
When working as a freelancer, one of the most challenging aspects is setting boundaries. But it is important to do so for health reasons and to ensure your productivity does not suffer. You can make an exception by working late once in a while to meet a client deadline if he is in a different time zone. But don’t do so on a regular basis. At times, you may have to say “no” to a customer if he is unreasonable and expects you to work late regularly to meet his deadlines. You should always set expectations at the outset and manage your workload and deadlines to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep.
Working with customers in different time zones may seem challenging. You should put in the correct processes in place and manage expectations. You never know, clients on the other side of the world may turn out to be some of your most valuable ones.