Timezones can often be seen as a barrier, as something to work around when managing your career as a digital nomad, rather than an asset or a unique selling proposition for you as a small business owner or freelancer.
However, Wesley Cude can share some elements of how his own experience working in different time zones has actually helped him, what working in different timezones can offer, and how to make it work.
Wesley spends the majority of the European winter working from Asia while managing his WordPress web design company based in the UK. These are some of his findings from both his own work in different timezones, as well as insights from other digital nomads in other timezones.
Working in the UK and Europe
Travelling from the UK to other countries in Europe, digital nomads are likely to have their first experience of working in different time zone. In the case of working somewhere like Spain, working with UK clients can allow you to get an hour’s head start in the morning, allowing you to organise and address high-priority items. This, in turn, may mean that you could deliver to clients much more quickly, surprising them with prompt deliveries.
However, once they begin travelling to North American and Asia, digital nomads are more likely to realise the full potential of using timezones to their advantage. As such, working in the UK may start to feel like they don’t have enough time, no longer having that buffer of 1-2 hours to get that early start.
Working in North America
Many who try working in North America may find that it represents one of their biggest challenges, such as being so far behind the time that UK clients operated on, finding their inbox filling by the time they go to bed, and others usually closing up the office by the time they woke up. As a result, without proper time management, digital nomads might even adopt unhealthy habits like waking in the night to check emails, which will make it harder to recover from jetlag.
One benefit some do discover while working in North America, however, is that working after normal business hours may actually allow you some peace to catch up with correspondence and work without any further interruptions.
Working in Thailand, S.E. Asia
Thailand and S.E Asia, in general, have become majorly popular spots for digital nomads across the world. These locations can allow professions to fully discover that the time difference can actually be an asset. For instance. working in Asia can get rid of the sense of urgency that you have working in the UK. Being six hours ahead may mean you are able to work ahead of the curve and able to schedule calls for later in the day without much issue. What’s more, it can allow you to achieve a much greater work-life balance, opening up more time to relax and work on personal projects.
While you may encounter the stigma that some clients worry you’re spending more time on the beach than working on their projects, many actually find the opposite to be true. The better work-life balance and personal time can allow them to actually be much more motivated, productive, and the time difference can offer a significant advantage when it came to being organized.
Working with Remote Teams
Digital nomads don’t always (or even often) work alone. While many business owners use remote workers in order to better afford the labour and skills they need, having workers in timezones ahead of your business can actually be a big advantage.
Since discovering this advantage, digital nomad business owners have worked with contractors from all across the world, from Mexico to the Philippines and beyond. Doing this can allow them to find their “sweet spot.” In some cases, Mexico may prove too far behind their timezone, pushing projects back a day, while the Philippines might be so far ahead that they were completing work as the UK team just started.
In the above case, their best result was working with those 2 hours ahead in Central Europe. Much like when working in Asia, nomads can find that this difference allowed client requests to handled much more promptly, often by the time they got to their desk in the morning. While you may find certain barriers and advantages informed by the kinds of skillsets and work cultures found in different parts of the world, it may end up being timezones that affect the relationship with remote teams more often than not.
Using Google Boomerang to Work Across Time Zones
One tool that remote individuals and teams can use to better manage their time, especially while travelling, is Google Boomerang. This Google Extension works with the email client, Gmail, and other software, allowing you to better manage your time.
If you’re dealing with clients who like to send a huge load of emails, always answering immediately and expecting an immediate response in kind, Boomerang can help. Rather than sending emails immediately, it allows you to schedule a time that they go out. This way, you can make sure you’re sending emails at a time where it’s more likely your client will be able to receive it and read it without inconvenience. Furthermore, it allows you to train clients in other timezones that they shouldn’t expect immediate replies
Boomerang can also help if you’re working abroad but don’t want clients to know this fact. Some clients are concerned about the barriers that different timezones can bring but, if you can work around those barriers, there’s no need to even let them know they exist.
Not every timezone is going to work to the advantage of every worker. However, finding the timezone that works best for you can help you really unlock your productivity. It can help you not only work to a schedule that better suits your clients, but it can also improve your own work-life balance, allowing you to actually enjoy being a digital nomad.