Effective Collaboration Across Time Zones

Effective Collaboration Across Time Zones

Working with a remote assistant on the other side of the world can be quite challenging, but don’t let that stop you from expanding your talent pool. With a global team, you create more diversity of thought and innovation. 

Depending on your business needs, you can schedule them to work during the same hours that you do or have them cover your non-office hours for round-the-clock operations. 

Here are some ways on how to deal with the time difference when working with a remote assistant:

1. Set a schedule that works for you and your virtual assistant

While Pineapple is based in Arizona, which follows 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM AZ admin office hours, all our BVAs are located in the Philippines. Even though they are accustomed to working at night to accommodate US time zones, most of them work with other clients and cannot accommodate on-call arrangements. So, it is essential to set proper expectations in terms of each other's availability.

Below are the available options that would best suit your demands and ensure that you can utilize their service to your advantage:

Flexible Schedule: It will be at the virtual assistant's discretion when they render the hours set per week. You are, however, free to set deadlines for them to meet. This type of schedule may be ideal for tasks that are not too time-sensitive and can be performed independently.

Fixed Schedule: You can set up the time and schedule for the virtual assistant following your business hours and time zone. This is suitable when synchronous communication and real-time interaction are required for the BVA to be successful in his/her role. However, it may take a while to match you with a VA, especially if the hours are minimal.

Semi-Flexible Schedule: Your virtual assistant will be available during the US daytime. However, it will still be at the virtual assistant's discretion when they clock in for that day as long as it is within your business hours.

2. Schedule weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your virtual assistant

With the current time difference between the Philippines and the United States, a morning shift for a U.S.-based client means a night shift for a Filipino virtual assistant.

Working on a flexible schedule means it can take 12 hours from when you push send to get a response from your BVA and vice versa, so make every communication count. We suggest meeting at least once or twice a week to ensure everyone is on the same page with projects and deadlines, no matter what the set schedule is.

Just like how you spend time training your team members, you will also need to schedule meetings with your virtual assistant to monitor their progress and provide the necessary feedback to help them become more successful in their role in your business. This may seem daunting at first, but it will cut down on the necessary back and forth over menial details. 

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3. Respect your virtual assistant’s time to rest

According to research, working outside of our regular system can put a strain on our physical, mental, social, and overall health. While the virtual assistants are genuinely dedicated to providing you with the support you need, it is also essential to maintain one’s health.

Depending on the arrangement you have with your BVA, please remember that days off are time set aside for them to get a much-needed break, so they may not be available to accommodate last-minute tasks.

Additionally, you could allow your BVA to take paid or unpaid time off during the holidays at your discretion. However, while leaving on a long vacation or out-of-town trip, it is advisable to delegate back-office tasks that your BVA can accomplish independently, so you have peace of mind that someone is covering priority projects while you are gone. This is also so we can retain your BVA in your account, as they are paid on an hourly basis and a week of downtime will significantly affect the flow of their finances, which may result in us needing to free them up from your account to keep their opportunities open.

4. Set up a calendar management system for monitoring

There are a lot of free tools available online that could help you achieve the steps mentioned above. With Google Calendar, scheduling kickoff meetings or checking someone’s availability is easy no matter what time zone you are in. Our virtual assistants use Gmail, and if you are also using the same tool, this calendar app makes things well integrated and easy to access.

The great thing about working with Pineapple is that you will be provided access to your virtual assistant’s time tracker to allow for better monitoring of all their tracked hours. Additionally, we require our virtual assistants to send end-of-day reports to their clients, which allows you to keep on top of their productivity for the day. 

Regardless of the time differences, we believe that proper communication is key. So, it's important to set rules on communication, such as how to reach you, the best time to exchange messages, any regular meetings to attend, and deadlines for each project. A good understanding of how to work as a distributed team will tie everything together and ensure a successful working relationship! 

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