Blog When to say no to hiring an Executive Assistant in different time zones

When to say no to hiring an Executive Assistant in different time zones

Apr 28, 2023

5 min read

There are many challenges to working in different time zones and not every startup should have to navigate them. In our experience as a remote company working successfully with the best talent in Latin America, our recommendation is to have the same time zone across the team of Executive Assistants.

Why do we think it’s more effective to work with executive assistants in the same time zone?

Recently, Massimo Maietti posted on his LinkedIn profile about Monopoly Go’s videogame debut. What stood out, besides a great achievement from Scopely, was a comment about their team working successfully across different time zones. Almost at the same time, entrepreneur and speaker Kosta Petrov, admits the challenges of working in such a way. “The flow of emails and meetings can seem never-ending on some days”, writes.

Challenges on working with teams in different time zones.

No doubt that there is a productivity aspect of working across time zones, like expanding diversity, and a professional network but it can come with its disadvantages, especially for time-sensitive matters.

By working in the same time zones, Executive Assistants have the ability to deal with urgent tasks in a timely fashion. If an individual is simply not online or awake at the time that you need to move a meeting, a domino effect happens and havoc can break free. Thus, defeating the purpose of having an EA in the first place. Time zone is becoming a determining factor in remote work. Salesforce has adjusted and begun filtering by time zone instead of office location.

At Viva, our key objective is hiring Executive Assistants that meet startup executives’ expectations and time zone: we consider it a win-win situation.

So this is a post about why we recommend hiring an Executive Assistant in your same time zone whenever possible.

Table of Contents:

  • Productivity benefits from working in your time zone
  • Health benefits from working during day hours
  • Viva’s mission of empowering women in Latin America
  • When to hire outside of your timezone?

Productivity benefits from working in your time zone

In remote work, dealing with time-sensitive matters is crucial. If an executive assistant is working in a different time zone, they can’t deal with synchronous work that needs immediate attention.

Working in the same time zone has different benefits for a team’s productivity like allowing for instant feedback and seamless communication. In addition, it creates a sense of belonging in teammates that leads to improved collaboration and creative problem-solving, and ultimately, to improving turnover rates.

Decision-making is greatly beneficial with teams working in the same time zone, especially for high-performing teams like startups who need to move fast.

According to Petrov, executives working in different time zones may feel like the workload is unending because as he describes it when one team is done for the day, the other team across the world is just getting started.

Remote work can foster productivity if done correctly. This study from Society for Human Resource Management suggests that working remotely can increase productivity by up to 77%. With stats like these, working remotely shouldn’t be disregarded altogether. The report also stated the optimal schedule for productivity: it’s in the daytime. Specifically on “Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 10:30 am and 3:00 pm”. This supports the idea that working during the daytime and in equal time zones renders productivity, although is not the sole factor behind better metrics.

Whether a team is working in the same time zone or not, communicating well is a priority that impacts productivity directly. Working in the same time zone allows for on-time communication and requires no extra training in managing a time difference.

Health benefits of working during the day

To make up for the time difference, some agencies hire off-shore executive assistants for the graveyard shift. This means that assistants are working nights while it’s daytime in America.

Although it provides work opportunities on a global scale, there are risks associated with working the night shift.

Circadian rhythms refer to the internal clock that tells the human body when it’s day and night. They are responsible for sleep-wake cycles. Working the night shift has been associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Research has shown that eating at night, which is common for night shift workers, can impair the body’s ability to process sugar or glucose.

According to the American Psychological Association, “working against a person’s natural sleep cycle causes sleep disorders, as well as fatigue. Fatigue, in turn, worsens moods, decreases cognitive abilities and reflexes, and makes people more vulnerable to disease”. The website states that disrupted sleep cycles are “not a recipe for good decisions”.

If you are looking for top performers, it’s best to hire in the same time zone to avoid burn-out and low-quality performance associated with health risks from working the night shift.

The National Institutes for Health also states that working nights is also a risk factor for vitamin D deficiency, because of lack of sunshine which can leave individuals feeling unfocused and disrupt their long-term motivation. This is a critical factor in the long-term retention of a strong executive assistant. If looking for a temporary solution, this might not be a major concern but our goal is to set individuals up for long-term success contributing to your company’s goals and OKRs.

Viva’s social mission of empowering women in Latin America

Time zone alignment with executives is a big focus for Viva and the reason why we hire across Latin America. Understanding what makes our talent thrive is what sets us apart. Our company culture prospers on work-life integration and it actually renders productivity.

We also consider mothers, as some of our staff have children and families to take care of. Viva is aware that they wish to fulfill their motherhood responsibilities, which is challenging to do while working on the graveyard shift. This demographic can be the most well-organized and disciplined individuals that a company can hire.

Since our Executive Assistants are all living in LatAm, time zone alignment with our US customers is compulsory and beneficial across the board.

Viva’s social mission extends beyond hiring top talent from LatAm with partnerships that support community impact initiatives. These partnerships with non-profit organizations work with women from Latin America to provide programs for financial inclusion, health, education, loans for underserved populations, and micro-loans for women entrepreneurs. Some of the programs that we are currently working with include:

  • ProMujer: is a non-profit development organization that provides financial inclusion, health, and education programs to low-income women in Latin America.
  • MiCredito: offers loans that can have a positive impact on borrowers, their families, and their communities in Nicaragua.
  • Kiva: Viva has supported 11 female entrepreneurs with loans for the development of their businesses. Once each loan is repaid, Viva selects a new entrepreneur to support.

When to hire outside of your timezone?

Although we strongly recommend that your EA is in the same time zone as you, for some startups, hiring outside of their time zone actually makes sense. Some of the reasons are:

  • The work you and your team are doing is not time-sensitive.
  • If you are looking to hire an Executive Assistant that is going to support someone from another time zone.
  • Your input is not required for your Executive Assistant’s progress.
  • Large delays in async communication (e.g. Slack or email) are not disruptive to productivity.
  • Your time zone doesn’t have the depth of expertise that you need (e.g. India is a specialized hub for IT services).
  • The workflow is efficient enough to prevent any issues that may result from offline progress like confusion or overstepping.

Having an EA working in the same time zone as you is highly recommended and will provide the best results that could improve your productivity and your team’s. Book a call with us to learn more about how our solution tailors to your needs.

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