Working from home comes with several benefits. You have no boss looking over your shoulder and giving your projects you hate. There is no colleague at work to pressure you into getting involved in activities that are questionable or just a waste of your time. You get to kiss the commute goodbye. There are plenty of benefits come with freelancing…and you can probably think of some for your specific situation.
However, as great as the benefits of working from home are, managing time zone differences can complicate two important tasks: finding and winning projects; and ensuring that the project is delivered on time.
I Know a Thing or Two about Working with Different Time Zones
Having worked with clients from the United States, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Ukraine, India, Germany, and other parts of the world, I can testify to the challenges which time zone difference create if not properly addressed.
I remember getting hired sometimes ago by a client who lives in a different part of the world than I do. He told me about his expectations for the project. I understood all I needed to do in order to successfully complete the project. Due to the nature of the project, the client scheduled meetings on Skype so we could discuss the progress of the project.
Guess what posed a serious challenge to our client-freelancer relationship? Time zone difference! While I was still asleep at 3 AM, he’s already up and doing – in the day – waiting for me to come online for the meeting on Skype. I found this to be quite challenging. I almost quit. I’m glad I didn’t because the project remains one of the best that I have done.
Why didn’t I end up getting frustrated? Why didn’t I quite the contract? The answers are here in this post. I’m giving you my tips that will help you efficiently keep up with your clients despite time zone difference.
- Discuss time-zone difference with your new clients.
There is no better way to kill off issues with clients than by addressing them immediately. You must help them understand the time zones difference between your countries. For example, if you live in the United Kingdom and your new client’s location is in Australia, you need to let them know that you are about nine solid hours behind them. This is really easy to do. You can use Google and type in “What time is it right now in [location]?” Then, compare it to your current time.
You and your client must reach a consensus regarding the most convenient times to communicate and submit or review completed milestones. You really don’t want new clients to assume you are always available when in the real sense you aren’t. So, it’s important to let them know about the time zones difference before they eventually hire you. This way, you don’t have to stay up 24/7 to keep up with their demands.
- Complete projects ahead of deadline!
I love completing projects ahead of time. It’s not like it’s a must for me, but completing projects ahead of time often does crucial two things. It helps me to free up my clustered schedule. It impresses my clients (which makes them more likely to return their business to me in the future). And I want to add here that completing projects ahead of time helps you get done even before clients request an update. There have been situations where I didn’t quite understood how time zones work, but because I completed whatever tasks I assigned before the due date, I never worried about the time zone as far as adhering to a deadline.
- Stick to meeting schedules.
Time zone difference can cause a bit of confusion between you and your clients if you do not stick to the time scheduled for meetings. You should try enough to avoid postponing meetings with your clients in different time zones. Of course, you also need to communicate to such clients the importance of keeping to the schedule (including the amount of time allotted for the meeting). Why? Because changing the schedule for meetings may not be convenient for either of you.
Even though time zone differences create challenges for freelancers, using my three tips can help you smooth out this important concept with both new and existing clients.
How have you dealt with time zones differences in the past? Do you have other methods for keeping up effectively with clients living in different time-zones?
Share with us below in the comment section!