There are many reasons for an organization to go global, including increased competition, new markets, and a diversified customer base. And to move into international markets, you’ll need an international team.

Ever thought about expanding your workforce beyond your city or country? You’ve probably run into a common barrier: time zone differences. But with strategic thinking and modern technology, you can time zone stack your remote team. This can turn those challenges into competitive advantages.

Managing a global, virtual team is more complicated than managing one in the same office or even the same city. You’ll not only need to adjust for different time zones, but for secure data sharing and modes of communication. 

With knowledge management and AI, a hybrid team across different working hours can be an asset rather than a barrier. This is where time zone stacking comes in. Time zone stacking management is essential in finding synchronicity across your asynchronous communication.

An illustration shows how workers at the same organization don't have to be online at the same time to communicate effectively.
The idea that all employees must be in the same place — let alone the same time zone — is quickly shifting.

What is Time Zone Stacking?

Used to having daily team video calls? Expecting immediate communication from all staff? These expectations are simply not possible when work hours barely overlap. Take advantage of a national or even international workforce by strategically creating teams that span different time zones. “Time zone stacking,” where employees have overlapping work hours, increases flexibility, responsiveness, and innovation.

Hiring staff across different time zones requires creative solutions. Some examples are split shifts, task management platforms, communication software, and email scheduling tools. 

If this sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve likely encountered this situation in the last two years. These methods of dealing with a global workforce and distributed team are similar to the adjustments businesses have made during the COVID-19 pandemic to accommodate a work-from-home or hybrid workforce. With a unified approach and integrated tech stack, employers can empower workers to do their best work, no matter if they’re in the office, at home — or in a different country. 

Advantages of Time Zone Stacking

  • Faster project timelines
  • Better customer service coverage for clients
  • Less down time due to product maintenance or updates
  • The diversity and skills of a global talent pool without the associated communication challenges

This method of structuring a workforce requires a fundamental shift in the way we think about our work day. Time zone differences are no longer a barrier to collaboration, because workers don’t need to meet or communicate in a live setting. 

In fact, according to a 2021 global survey commissioned by Google Workspace, 68% of people say there are too many virtual meetings to begin with. Research has shown that when employees are required to collaborate across multiple time zones, R&D teams with smaller overlaps in business hours tend to have fewer unplanned meetings or calls. 

The solution? Technology that allows teams to work smarter, not harder. But that’s not all. It’s also leaning into asynchronous communication philosophy with the tools and technology that are available in your tech stack. 

Great time-zone stacking is enhanced with AI-powered knowledge management
Wondering what knowledge management is? Check out our explainer.

Leveraging AI-powered Knowledge Management

The current work environment is the perfect time to consider expanding your team into a new time zone. Workers are used to (and indeed, expect) a newfound flexibility in work hours and location. In fact, in a 2021 study, 83% of employees working remotely agreed that their homes enabled them to work productively versus 64% in the average office. 

At this point in the pandemic, everyone understands the value of hybrid work. In fact, in Fall 2020, more than half of Americans preferred hybrid work. Employers were forced to adjust to a workforce that needed better communication tools, data storage, flexibility, and knowledge management.

What does this mean? Employees are used to it when their colleagues need to leave in the middle of the work day for an appointment or pick up the kids from school. And using asynchronous communication tools is part of the daily routine. Which calls for perfecting asynchronous collaboration within these tools, like Slack. Expanding the team to include workers in another time zone is just a natural progression.

Centralized Knowledge

What happens if a team member has an urgent question in the middle of their shift in their local time zone, but nobody on the team is awake? Will they waste time digging through the various Google Drive folders and become frustrated by inconsistent document naming conventions? Rather than sacrificing on project deadlines and goals, this means it’s vital to provide self-service knowledge success amongst your own organization.

With unified search, this is not a problem. If all of the company’s content repositories are connected to a centralized hub such as an intranet, the employee can search across location- or department-based silos to find the answer they need. Success lies within an AI-powered relevance platform that matches content to need via machine learning and natural language processing — even searching within Slack conversations

Rather than manually searching on siloed platforms,  facilitate strong collaboration by serving knowledge within the platforms your employees use everyday. They shouldn’t have to hunt for information; a relevance platform can bring it to them. 

The Value of AI

Even with a place for centralized knowledge, there could be thousands of files to search through. With a next-generation relevance platform, each employee’s personal profile will include their department and commonly searched terms. 

For example, if a sales or customer service representative searches for “product malfunction,” the top result could be a list of commonly experienced problems and troubleshooting for consumers. However, a product developer could search the same term and receive error reports or details on how the problem is being fixed on the back end.

Additionally, AI-powered search can surface information based on location relevance and local data regulations, making it easier for organizations to manage compliance.

With AI-powered knowledge management, employers can provide a self-service portal, internal help desk forms, and even chatbots, all lessening the burden on the IT team. AI can bring knowledge together and simplify content discovery – especially when your team members’ have already logged off for the day. 

Dig Deeper

Have or looking to transition to a remote workplace? Even hybrid models offer new challenges that onsite didn’t yet dream of.

Learn how you can connect your remote or semi-remote workplace with AI-powered enterprise search.

Put knowledge at your employees' fingertips
Ebook: Guide to Building a Connected Workplace with a Remote Workforce