It has become incredibly easy to work across borders without having to fly across these borders. If you’re one of the many people who work with clients in other countries, you’ll know. It doesn’t matter anymore if you have to work on a project with someone on the other side of the planet, because you can easily do all your communication with software like WeTransfer, Skype, Facetime, and good old emails.
It’s a wonderful world to work in. You can pick and choose your collaborators from a great pool of people and you can easily transfer money internationally to sort out payments within days. Yet with this benefit comes great responsibility. It’s easy to get lost in time zones, lose track of deadlines or misunderstand communication because of the lack of face-to-face meetings.
It’s important to maintain a good work ethic, especially when working with clients abroad. Following these easy steps will help you nurture your cross-national work relationships and create opportunity for even more international collaborations in the future.
Keep track of the time difference
The most important thing when working with clients abroad is keeping track of the time difference. Have an extra clock on your desk so you always know what the time is in their country. Before you click on “send”, check what time it is there. If you’re expecting a quick reply, this might help you understand that your client is currently in traffic or spending time with his kids. Simply knowing what the time is on the other end will already make a massive difference in the fluency of your communication.
Schedule important communications for corresponding office hours
It’s not possible for everyone, but most of the time there will be a few hours in a day when both are within reasonable office hours. Send you mails before this time and reply to the important mails within this time. This will reduce the lag in communication considerably, because where you usually would have waited 24 hours to receive a reply, you may now have it within a couple. Making small shifts in the time you check and send mails could make a massive difference. Even if it’s an hour before you day officially starts, taking that time to do your mails will really improve productivity.
Share a calendar
Informing each other about meetings and events will also help both of you to work better and maintain good work ethic in both directions. You don’t have to know the details, but simply blocking out the times you both have your own meetings will help you schedule phone or video calls for a time that suits both of you. It will also cut the time spent mailing back and forth finding a slot that suits all.
You might think you still have many hours to complete a task, but the person on the other end can’t quickly pop in to check on your progress or answer your questions. Doing things at the last minute might result in you having an important question while you’re client is already sleeping, meaning that you’ll delay certain stages of the project further. Start all your tasks sooner rather than later. This will also reassure your client that they can count on you delivering on time or even ahead of time.
Don’t miss your deadlines
Now that you know exactly what the time is in your client’s country, you have no excuse to miss deadlines. While missing deadlines in the same office can still be excused, because you have face-to-face communication to clear up small problems or hiccups, it really puts strain on a long distance work relationship. Keeping to your deadlines strengthens your client’ trust in you, missing them might trigger thoughts about finding someone to do the same work in the same city.
Be reliable and consistent
As with the previous point, you need to reassure your client that they can rely on you. Reply to emails timeously, don’t delay with work, and communicate clearly. Make sure you reply to every question or comment in their emails, not just the one you deem most important. And make sure you deliver good work. Your client on the other side of the world doesn’t know that you have the flu or your girlfriend broke up with you. If your boss is in the same country as you, they tend to be much more lenient, and this is the negative aspect of having clients abroad. You have to keep up the good work and be consistent in doing so.
Find a reliable international money transfer company
Especially for longer-term contracts or projects, it’s important to be able to trust your international money transfer company. Find one with reasonable rates and an appropriate option for your work. It is much better in the long run to find a company where you can sign up and use repeatedly than to do once of payments abroad and end up spending loads on transfer costs.