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How to Manage Clients in Different Time Zones

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When I started working with CVA, I knew that I needed to work 2-10pm GMT. Being in a different time zone allowed me to have a flexible day and I don’t need to stick to 9-5 routine. Lovely!

Week by week, I have started to realise how fresh my head is in the mornings, rather than in the evenings. And clients, too, were happy to wake up and see that most of the work has been done while they are asleep!

Since then, I try to do as much as I can in the morning and in the afternoon, and then I leave evening just for communicating with them if any tasks arise. Communication is the key when your clients are in different time zones. You might receive an email at 10pm GMT with an important or urgent task, and you must acknowledge it, it does not matter if you are ready to go to bed. You need to realise that client trusts you and expects you to respond.

Of course, some of the clients might not be happy about time difference. They need a VA available during most of the day. Some clients love it. But to get it right, there are few steps to consider when working with the client in a different time zone.

Firstly, I consider if the time difference will allow me to build a relationship with the client. Will we find time to speak, get together for a Skype call during the same time? I love my job, so I don’t mind having some conference calls at 8pm, but what if the client wishes to have many unscheduled meetings during the week with not much notice time? We will not have a fruitful relationship. The huge time difference might work with the client who is passive, does not have any urgent tasks, and loves email communication. But it might not work for someone who is looking to hire a proactive VA to support all day-to-day activities.

Secondly, with more planning and discussion communication is not much more difficult. I just carefully plan tasks ahead and very often try to finish the tasks before the deadline – leaving some time for feedback, review and any further updates if needed. I know then, that I and the client will not be stressing out about time difference and not being able to communicate properly.

Thirdly, I am always being honest and make my client aware of the time difference. I ensure, that I will be able to find the way how to communicate with them and just trying to ensure, that as long as both sides are willing to make the relationship work, it will.

photo credit: woodleywonderworks

Posted on May 2nd, 2011 by Team CVA

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