Q&A with Paola: Working in a different time zone from your team

Paola shares how she learned to communicate better, why she believes getting your zzz's is a must, and her advice on making remote work "work".

January 16, 2021

Meet Paola

  • Currently lives in Illinois, USA

  • Originally from Arequipa, Peru

  • I'm an SEO & Content Marketing Specialist

  • I started at The Remote Company in July 2019

  • Why I love my job: The freedom to work from anywhere and the opportunity to create amazing products with an awesome team. Oh, and not having to deal with the typical “office drama”. Also, my border collies get to be my assistants. 🐶


Most of your direct team members work in Europe, that’s a 7 to 8-hour time difference!

Yes! And one of my content writers, Sean, is all the way in Singapore. That's a 14-hour time difference! When I start working in the morning, he’s heading to bed.


How does this time difference influence your day-to-day? Did you adjust your schedule?

Surprisingly, it doesn't really affect my day-to-day!

Of course, I'll adjust my schedule whenever we have a team meeting (which is quite rare), but otherwise, I'm given the freedom to work the hours that I pick, which is everything!

People at The Remote Company are encouraged to schedule their day and work when they feel most productive (as long as you get your hours in).

For me, those are the mornings and evenings. My peak-performance hours vary by the season. During summer, I'm an early riser. During winter, I stay tucked under the sheets just a little longer because I get so cold!


What are some great and not-so-great things about being in a different time zone?

Let's start with the not-so-great stuff, though I can't think of many. Not being able to talk in real-time can be a challenge, especially when you prefer to get an answer or reply fast.

However, since we plan everything in advance, nothing is that urgent that we need people to instantly reply. Plus, when my day starts, most of my marketing colleagues are still online for a bit.

The good thing is that when I log into Slack, things are normally pretty calm. Since I'm behind in hours, most channel discussions have already happened while I was asleep. I just need to go through the conversations to make sure I didn't miss out on anything. Then during my workday, I also receive fewer notifications, which lets me focus better.


How do you build relationships with other team members?

The nice thing about working with a worldwide team is that there’s always someone online to start a conversation with, especially in support.

Communication-wise, I think asynchronous communication is key when working remotely. At The Remote Company, we all understand that everyone is focused on their tasks and has their own workflows, so people answer messages at a time that's best for them. Therefore, I don't expect immediate replies.

Personally, asynchronous communication fits me much better because I can take time to better think about what people are asking, and how I will reply—rather than replying with the first thing that comes to mind. Unless, of course, it's a simple yes or no question.


How about team meetings, any tips on successfully managing video calls in the early AM?

It's actually nice to see your teammates in the early morning. For me, it's like getting greeted with a very warm "Hiiii" when you get into the office.

Luckily, our company has a "less is more" mindset about meetings, so if I do have an early meeting, it's an important one. My teammates are also very considerate of my time zone. They always ask what time works best when coordinating a meeting.

My best tip is to sleep 8-9 hours or however many hours you need to fully recharge. As simple as it sounds, monitoring your sleep quality is very important.

No matter what your work schedule is like (night owl or early bird), I believe you should rest for eight hours and try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.

When I don’t get in my full eight hours, I feel very tired and foggy the next day. Caffeine then surely helps, but a good night's rest is key!


What’s been your biggest learning so far about working remotely?

I have learned so many things here! My biggest learning so far has been to focus a lot on how I communicate. As our team grows and we launch new products, it's essential to keep each conversation simple and straight to the point.

I tend to write long essays (like these answers). Whenever I reply in a work situation, I've learned to ask myself "Is this really relevant?" I have to remind myself to keep it simple :)

Another important lesson I've picked up along the way is to not be afraid to ask questions! I didn't do this in the beginning, but as others encouraged me to ask more, I realized that it's so helpful. Your teammates may already know the answer to something you’ve been trying to figure out for hours.

Megan

I’m Megan, Content Writer at The Remote Company. You can find me in Berlin, NYC or somewhere escaping winter in Asia. I have helped many start-ups grow their online visibility. Blogging has always been my thing—from running artist fan pages as a teenager to now discovering upcoming talent on Sign This Kid.

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