Collaborating with partners and working across time zones: how to maximise productivity

Posted by: Schepisi - Monday, March 23, 2015

Technology is an amazing thing. It allows us to communicate seamlessly with coworkers down the hall, or clients on the other side of the world. It lets us keep up to date with friends and family when they upload photos from their latest holiday on Facebook. 

And it creates a more connected workforce. 

So connected, in fact, that we can have both clients and partners overseas, working in different time zones, utilising your products or services for their own gain.

global communication

B2B businesses understand that time is precious and they simply don’t have a slew of hours up their sleeves at their disposal. That’s why they’re embracing new technologies to combine with traditional modes of communication to help amplify their entire communications cycle.

So how can B2B businesses make the most of their precious hours? Below we go over some important factors to consider when you’re regularly collaborating and communicating with local, interstate and international partners and clients.

Create a cross-company culture:

How else will you work effectively together if two companies are not seeing eye-to-eye? Here we need to be realistic. 

If you’re entering long-term partnerships or collaboration with a new partner or client, your business is going to have to open its mind.

This doesn’t mean a total culture reevaluation; rather, it’s about finding a balance between your business’s mode of operations, and your partner’s. 

Be assertive when organising conversations:

Don't bother with a “when are you free to chat?” email, which can take up to a day to get a response (especially if you’re in drastically different time zones). 

Instead, show a little assertiveness, and offer a few options: “Are you free to chat Monday afternoon (your time) or Wednesday or Thursday morning (your time)?” 

Being direct will help cancel out a few fluff emails in between the initial conversation invitation and a conversation booking. You’ll have to instill a little control!

Those on the receiving end of these messages will appreciate the direction, too.

Once a meeting time has been determined, ensure you’re giving substantial information, making clear requests for any material that needs to be read or prepared in advance, and create a brief agenda that clearly indicates the intended length of a meeting or conversation.

Video conferencing solutions – international and foreign clients:

Language barriers can prove tricky to overcome. 

If you’re confident that speaking your native language will suffice (rather than using a translator or conversing in the local language yourself), you’re best using a method that allows you to read the faces of those you’re communicating with. 

A phone call can only deliver so much; it’s the added feature of being about to read faces, observe body language and forge a more meaningful conversation that video conferencing provides.

Through video conferencing, you can pick up little cues that aren’t present in regular voice calls.

Video conferencing gives businesses a competitive edge against their peers – decisions are made faster, information is exchanged more efficiently, and video breaks down the international barriers between communications. 

Host a successful video conference with these tips.

Collaborate; don’t dictate:

Everything will not always be done “my way”; it’s a collaboration, not a takeover or dictation. Your regular communication cycle might need to adapt to blend with your clients’ or prospects’. 

What’s the best way to get in touch, and for what kind of conversation? Initial conversations and meetings can be scheduled though emails, and meetings can take place over voice or video conferencing calls. 


Make sure after each information exchange you’re keeping those who are crucial to the plan well informed on the subsequent steps. 

Also, never assume! 

Particularly with those who do not share your native tongue, but definitely applicable to all clients and partners, never assume. 

Never assume that what you have said makes sense to them, and that you have correctly interpreted what they have said to you. When it doubt, rephrase, ask for clarification, and try to avoid slang. 

Additionally, have you decided who is responsible for follow-up conversations?

Effective communication means you have more time to collaborate with them and work on your own projects.

You mightn’t necessarily be talking more often, but you’re certain to be talking smarter: you will know the best way to get your message across without wasting time. Effective techniques can also slash your travel time (and cost – those flights can get expensive!)

Ready to empower your team with powerful international communications? Sign up for a free Lifesize Cloud trial here.

Telstra business partner Melbourne