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I'm based in New Zealand and in previous years I was freelancing in Australia. I've done work for US clients on the west coast in (PST/PDT) and the timezone difference (it's about 4 hours difference from NZT) felt minimal and was in fact beneficial as it gave me focused uninterrupted work periods.

This year I did a lot of work for a client in Colorado (Mountain Time) and although they stated it was perfectly ok to contact them when a previously unidentified issue cropped up e.g. a bad API response, I felt awkward having to ask them early in their evenings and I suspect put some strain on the person who had contracted me.

I'm now talking with a potential client on the east coast and so of course there is less overlap time-wise but they want my skillset. I am naturally an early bird so that works in my favor. But I'm wondering what are good practices to alleviating any issues. My current thinking is:

  • be up early and resolve questions / communicate first thing
  • don't send questions at 6pm their time. Wait till it's much later and they get the question early when they wake up. In other words, have a red-zone when you don't send questions (unless of course there was something super-critical)
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Having dealt with various timezone scenarios as a freelancer and an employee at a company, I have found the solution to be the same - make sure that there is a clear expectation of what your presence/availability is.

There are a number of ways to do this, but the most popular and effective ways I have seen and work for me are:

  • Agree on the 'core business hours' when you can guarantee to be contactable and respond within a relatively short amount of time.
  • Agree on the maximum latency allowed for correspondence so as not to affect project delivery.
  • Use an intermediary whose timezone lies between the two to enable the communication window to overlap.

When you use which particular combinations of strategies depends largely on the nature of the client/project/locations.

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Hi I have been freelancing for over 2 years working with many clients around the globe with huge differences in time zones and sometimes that's a pain in the back but there is no need to stress yourself or the client. You should be having specific hours and days you work and let the client know the times and days you are available for working. Whenever an issue occurs they should let you know and as soon as you start working you will address it.

Unless there is a need for constant communication time difference should not be an issue. Many clients are used to it and those who don't will usually try to find freelancers available in their timezone.

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