Confused about how best to handle time zone differences while working remotely? No worries! We’re here to help you learn how to navigate the various time zones and cultural differences that you’ll encounter as a digital nomad, remote worker or entrepreneur.
While deciding the best time zone to work remotely from, consider:
- Business requirements
- The climate
- Cultural interactions vs. expat lifestyle
- Cost of living vs. quality of living
- The logistics for your ideal time zone overall
According to the geography realm website, there are more than 24 time zones in the world. This can be overwhelming when working remotely and trying to coordinate with clients, colleagues or services. But simply learning how to identify key variables that affect your productivity within a certain time zone and region will allow you to create a strategy to enjoy your remote position fully.
And whether you are an IT technician, programmer, entrepreneur, content writer or have any other occupation that can be done remotely, we are here to help guide you in choosing the best time zone to work from remotely.
Tips and useful websites for your time zone strategy
Choosing time zones is somewhat dependent on the type of remote work you do.
If your business relies on conducting meetings with potential and/or existing clients, then you’ll ideally want to match your working hours to theirs as best as possible. You should also consider the volume of weekly Zoom meetings, emails and phone calls you receive. This factors into the most efficient time zone for maintaining all of this communication and how far you can stray from this ideal time zone.
But if your business does not require so many meetings and phone calls, you might have more quiet time for creative work. In this case, you have more runway in choosing from a wider range of timezone options.
The cost of living is another thing to keep in mind because where you can afford to live might take priority over any time zone preference you might have. You can compare prices with Numbeo to determine your monthly expenses while staying in a foregin country.
An easy and straightforward way to track time is by using the time and date website. It shows the current time differences between any location. Don’t forget to factor in daylight savings time when it kicks in for the approximate 70 countries that use it.
Culture, weather, internet speed and safety are important as well when determining where to live, and subsequently the time zone you’ll work from. Nomadlist is a great website for digital nomads to track these variables.
Now that we have all these basics covered, we can dive into details about different time zones to help you choose which is best suited for you. We will mostly reference the US, Canada and the UK when talking about time zones around the globe.
Central European (GMT +1) and Central African Time Zone (GMT+2)
6 hours ahead of New York
If you want to interact and work with the whole world, there is pretty much no better time zone than those of Central European Time and Central African Time. They’re at the center of the world, literally!
Neighbors to Asia on one side, and the Americas on the other, these time zones are in a prime position.
For example, the waking hours of these time zones is also when Australia is finishing their work day. And during your afternoon, America starts its work day.
The six hour time difference between the US and Canada’s Eastern Standard Time (EST) can be overwhelming at first, but once you get used to it, it becomes a great advantage. If you are working with someone in the US, you will have the benefit of getting a head start on your day. By the time your clients wake up, you will have finished most of your work and still have three hours left to sync up with them.
If you need to sync with them 100%, the ideal working hours would have your shift end in the evenings. This is perfect for night owls! If you’re not a night owl, 10am-6pm or 11am-7pm will suffice.
In this time zone, you can command the world.
Southeast Asian Time Zone (GMT+7)
12 hours ahead of New York
If you are headed towards the popular remote work destination of Southeast Asia, digital nomad hub cities there, like Bangkok, are six hours ahead of GMT (London). Let’s say you’re starting your day at 8am, which is 6pm US Pacific time… This is a time slot where you can sync up with clients over there quite easily despite the drastic difference in the time of day. In Europe however, this is the middle of the night at that time.
If you do creative work, this time difference leaves a lot of quiet time between the US and Europe. You can make great progress in working on the business, as opposed to being involved in it.
This is a time that allows you to focus on thinking and coming up with creative solutions that can benefit your business core instead of burning out on endless Zoom calls.
If you’re an early bird, this is also perfect for you! Elon Musk said that entrepreneurs spend too much time in meetings and too little time on making their service or product exponentially better. The Southeast Asian time zone is perfect for getting in that quiet, creative time in the morning.
This time zone however is not for people who are not at a stage where they can take a step back and cut out interaction.
If this time zone sounds appealing to you, we suggest you take a look at the cheapest places to stay in Thailand.
Central Indonesian Time Zones (GMT+8)
Indonesia and Bali have a time zone that is even later than the Southeast Asian one. This is the worst time for getting on calls with people in the Americas. 9am in New York for example is 9pm in Indonesia. So unless you’re a night owl, it’s impossible to sync well for communication.
It is only good for going to meetings and making deals with clients in that region.
Latin America Time Zones (GMT-2 to GMT-5)
Mexico – US Central time and US Eastern time
If you want to work remotely in sync with the North American economy, and you want to avoid time zone obstacles, we recommend Latin America.
The Colombia expat hub of Medellin is perfectly aligned with Eastern Standard Time most of the year, save for daylight savings time when it’s one hour behind.
For London and the rest of GMT, Brazil is two hours ahead of Colombia most of the time.
Mexico is another great option if you are a digital nomad in North America looking for a plug and play lifestyle elsewhere on a budget. It has vibrant streets and a low cost for quality. It’s also already filled with expats. You can find more info on how to work for a US company from Mexico here.
Caribbean countries are in a similar time zone as well to most of the Americas.
Work for us!
What better way to travel and work than with the people who understand your lifestyle than to work with us at Support Adventure?! We are an expat-run and fully remote staffing company with people who have a passion for experiencing life abroad.
We are always hiring for help desk technicians, service desk coordinators and occasionally admin assistants. So whether you are a novice or an expert at any of these, feel free to apply here!