Finance Team Best Practices for Working Across Different Time Zones

By Linda RoperApril 19, 2023

30% of the UK workforce is now working remotely at least once a week, according to recent data, and 1 in 5 Brits wish to work remotely full-time. The rise of remote and virtual positions within finance teams often means managing employees in different time zones. And this can be quite a challenge! From setting up meetings that include all team members to respecting boundaries and working hours, here are some top tips on how virtual finance teams can work together more harmoniously, especially when they are spread across the globe.

LA time clock, New York time clock, London time clock and Tokyo time clockTip 1: Communicate Time Zone Differences With Your Finance Team

The first step in managing a finance team across different time zones is to make sure everyone is aware of the time differences within the team. It is essential to have a clear understanding of when team members are available to work and when they’ve finished and are now offline.

Failing to communicate the different time zones effectively can lead to frustration and issues within a department, as colleagues start to put a lack of response down to poor performance rather than working within a different time zone. Perhaps they’ve sent out an urgent email, but no one has responded. Maybe they have received a ‘decline’ message to a meeting request. This can quickly cause internal issues that can escalate without proper team management.

So rather than wait for things to go wrong, maintain strong team morale by outlining where each member of the finance team is based and how their working hours reflect those in the country where HQ is based. When everyone is fully aware of the different time zones, confusion can be kept at an all-time low.

Tip 2: Schedule Meetings That Work Within Business Hours

One of the biggest challenges of managing a finance team across different time zones is planning and setting up important meetings. While working remotely can certainly be achieved, there will inevitably be times when the whole department needs to get together online to discuss certain topics or provide feedback in real-time. But when working from different parts of the world, this can be tricky, to say the least. With careful planning ahead of time, you can notify the team of an important compulsory meeting coming up and ask if they can please make time in their day to attend, whether it be during working hours or not.

Explain that those who are not ‘working’ when attending the meeting can take the time spent online from their next working day and either start late or finish early, depending on what works best for them.

This level of understanding and mutual respect will help reduce any hard feelings between finance team members and enable you to get everyone on a call or video call, even when working remotely.

Tip 3: Adopt Project Management Tools

Another top tip when it comes to managing finance teams in different time zones is to start introducing project management tools and scheduling software. Project management tools such as Asana, Trello, or can be extremely helpful in managing a finance team across different time zones as the tool will change the time zone depending on the user and where they are in the world. These business management tools allow you to easily assign tasks, set deadlines (relative to various time zones), and track the progress of different projects and users, making it easier to manage teams remotely.

Additionally, they provide a central location for all team members to access and update project information, regardless of their time zone. So whilst some of the team are asleep, the other members can use the tools to update information, leave messages and feedback and deliver work. Then when their working hours come to an end and those who were asleep log in, they can catch up on what their colleagues have been doing and work collaboratively.

hands on laptop with email vectors floating in the pictureTip 4: Use Email Scheduling To Avoid Frustrating Colleagues

There is nothing worse than receiving several emails, one after another, throughout the night, disturbing your sleep and showing a colleague’s growing frustration that you’re not answering them. This is a clear sign that they have no idea that you are not working within the same time zone. It’s also an indication that the management team have failed to communicate the different time zones across the team. While this can often be resolved between colleagues, it should ideally be addressed as a top-level management concern. And if you’re in charge of managing remote finance teams, then it is your responsibility to put this right.

One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is to show your team how to use scheduling software for emails. Boomerang, Gmail’s built-in scheduling feature, can be used to send out emails at a more appropriate time. This allows those working to send out emails, but will only be delivered when the recipient is awake and within their set working hours. This helps to reduce friction internally, meaning work will no longer infringe upon their personal time.

Tip 5: Be Flexible With Schedules

When managing a finance team across different time zones, it is important to be flexible when setting schedules. Finance team members may need to work outside of their regular hours to accommodate the needs of the team, but this should be negotiable.

Encourage everyone to communicate their availability first and consider scheduling regular team meetings at different times to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate. By asking for the best working hours for different members of your team, you are demonstrating to them that you respect their time and won’t be crossing any boundaries when it comes to working hours and meetings.

It is important to establish a culture of respect and understanding, ensuring that everyone can maintain a healthy work-life balance.

virtual team meetingTip 6: Host Virtual Team Bonding Events To Bring People Together

It can be challenging to build a team culture when team members are spread out across different time zones. Hosting virtual team bonding events can be an effective way to bring people together, regardless of their location.

Consider hosting virtual happy hours, game nights, or team-building activities to foster camaraderie and teamwork. This can be done on Teams, Zoom or Facebook Live.

Final Thoughts

To recap, if you are managing a finance team that is based across the globe, the following tips will make it a success:

  1. Communicate Time Zone Differences With Your Finance Team

  2. Schedule Meetings That Work Within Business Hours

  3. Adopt Project Management Tools

  4. Use Email Scheduling To Avoid Frustrating Colleagues

  5. Be Flexible With Schedules

  6. Host Virtual Team Bonding Events to Bring People Together