Time Zone Tips and Translation Tricks
‘I'm a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they're interested in’ – Bill Gates
Working with international colleagues and clients can be a challenging experience. Doing business on a global scale brings a series of unique challenges, from translation issues to time-zone clashes. However, as multinational corporations such as Sony, Danone, and Unilever have shown, it is not an impossible task.
Time Zone Trouble
Language and communication barriers can now be overcome with technology. However, time travel stubbornly remains a figment of the imagination. As a result, the time zone conundrum is the single biggest constraint to global businesses – particularly when it comes to phone calls.
There are a number of ways to ease the pain of international calls. First and foremost, be extremely clear about when the call will take place. Waking up early for a conference call is frustrating enough without timing miscalculations.
Always check time zone details directly with the other call participants. Many countries span several time zones, and some also introduce Daylight Saving Time during the summer months. You should also check local working hours and customs before you schedule a call. The Monday-Friday working week is not a global standard, and national holidays vary widely.
Despite these tips, international phone calls will always be challenging – and expensive. Fortunately, there are many other communication methods available. Email can be cumbersome and slow, but other online options have taken the business world by storm.
Skype and Google+ Hangouts are two of the best online communication tools. Both offer instant messaging capabilities, which is perfect for rapid idea exchanges and quick queries. Conference calls are also supported by both platforms, for when face-to-face communication is necessary.
Online collaboration tools – such as Basecamp and Trello – are invaluable for international businesses. They allow teams from across the globe to collaborate on the same projects, making real-time suggestions, edits, and updates on a shared document.
Lost in Translation
Translation services are becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, thanks to technological advancements. However, language barriers can still hinder international trade.
English is often used globally for business communications – although other languages are growing in popularity. If your employees often need to converse in a tongue other than their own, consider sending then on a basic course to improve their conversational skills.
Rosetta Stone offers comprehensive business packages, and language schools and universities across the globe run training courses for employees.
This post was written by Simone Markland. Simone is the director of VOOVit, providers of international shipping and excess baggage services.
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