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How to Manage Time Differences with Multiple Office Locations

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 14 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
How To Manage Time Differences With Multiple Office Locations

Managing multiple office locations in overseas countries will mean having to deal with the time differences between the UK and the rest of the world. Time zones are not a great issue if your overseas office is in locations within Western Europe, but could be a major problem and require advanced planning if your overseas office locations are in the USA, or the Far East. In these cases managing your whole enterprise can be challenging as staff, suppliers and business partners will be at their desks at vastly different times of the working day.

Managing Global Business

Overseas office locations presents a challenge when managing your international business. Often, your teams will be working very different hours based on the time zone your overseas office is based in. There may be a few hours when the normal working days overlap, but generally, you will have to become adept at managing your business with little direct or instant communication with your overseas offices.

Time Management Tips

Managing time zones within your UK and overseas businesses isn’t a surmountable problem. Use the tips below to help you better manage your business across multiple time zones:

Arrange meetings
If you must have a meeting in real time, look for instances when your offices working day overlaps. This may mean scheduling meetings at the very end or beginning of the day.

Automate your business
To ensure all of your overseas office locations are operating efficiently, look at your internal business processes. Can these be improved and automated in any way to avoid the issues that working across different time zones can create?

Flexible working
Your business may have to have personnel available to handle some aspect of your overseas operation. This could mean night working or other unsociable hours. Introducing a level of flexible working into your business can help you support your overseas office locations and manage time differences with ease.

Business travel
It may be necessary to visit your overseas office at some point. Planning is the key to ensuring your business trip is as stress free and productive as possible. Jetlag is still a problem for many business travellers. Moving your sleep patterns to the time zone you will be flying to a few days before you travel can often have a beneficial effect.

Time Management Tools

Many of the tools that you use to manage your business in the UK can be set-up to include office locations overseas. Calendars within programs like Outlook can be modified to show multiple time zones. You can then see at a glance when meetings are scheduled, in which office and within which time zone and plan your time accordingly.

Managing your office in the UK and your overseas locations will often mean collaborating with your staff. The Internet and web based applications are now available that can bind together the teams in all your offices at home and in your overseas locations.

Online applications that you could use to create your own virtual technology office include: Backpackit, Basecamp, Writeboard and Ta-da List that all come from one innovative company that is placing a number of desktop utilities online. Many of these applications are designed for collaborative working that ideal when you are managing multiple office locations overseas.

Your desktop or laptop computer can also be turned into a dashboard that can be used when managing multiple office locations. World clock applications, Internet based telephony via platforms like Skype and shared server resources can all be set-up to allow the managing of your offices to be as efficient as possible.

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