The Time Zone Challenge

Dinolift has a wide network of distributors around the world. But working in different time zones can impose some challenges. We talked to our after-sales personnel to find out how working outside office hours impacts their personal life and ways of working.

Many of us are familiar with bedtime procrastination. Essentially, this means not having enough time in your day so that your leisure time eats into your sleeping time. There’s even a term for it in China – ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’, which specifically refers to staying up late at night in order to take back some control of your time. This phenomenon impacts people in high-stress jobs, those who work long hours and parents who have little time to themselves after work.

Another factor that can make work-life balance tricky is working in different time zones.

We asked our Finland-based Dinolift after-sales staff how they organise their lives while working during unusual hours and with customers and distributors from more than 40 countries around the world.

“I help our customers with technical support, service, development projects and training,” says Antti Kaukonen, Senior After Sales Engineer at Dinolift. “Our customer base is global. My clients are mostly situated in Europe, but also the USA and Australia. Working with clients in different time zones requires customer-centred thinking. You need to understand that the customer might need assistance immediately. Strong local distributor collaboration helps to provide the right service,” he explains.

 

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Although many things are handled online, nothing compares to meeting in person the people you work with. Especially when it comes to building customer relationships, Antti Kaukonen says.
Photo credit - Dinolift

 

Taking care of distributor relationships

Even if you work in Central European Time and your customer in the Pacific Time Zone, the basics of client work are the same. To offer an excellent customer experience, one needs to understand what the customer needs. Consistent support at the beginning of a distributor relationship is essential to starting things off on the right foot.

“When we choose a distributor from the other side of the world, it means that they usually need more support at the factories. Consistent commitment to nourish the relationship long-term reduces the need for daily contact,” Kaukonen explains.

Different time zones also bring another twist to the mix – the need to be available during the customer’s working hours. And sometimes, the customer requires assistance on short notice. This means that you might need to cut short a peaceful nap or family gathering.

“I’m in contact with distributors around the world and will provide technical support and help the customers outside office hours, if necessary,” says Jussi Saarikallio, who works in Dinolift after-sales as a Customer Success Manager.

Customer satisfaction and the knowledge that the client has received good service brings motivation when flexibility is required. But spending time with family, friends and hobbies is important as well.

“It’s important for us to make sure that our distributors get the support they need. At the same time, they are aware of the time difference between their location and Finland and understand that we cannot always answer emails immediately,” Saarikallio explains.

 

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It’s a joy to be able to serve customers when they need help. Dinolift’s distributors are professionals and understand how time zone differences impact our ways of working, Jussi Saarikallio says.
Photo credit - Dinolift

Keeping the balance

In the age of hybrid and remote working, time-management skills are crucial for a proper work-life balance. How can you stay grounded and get enough rest when you’re tempted to send that one last email before bedtime?

“I always turn off my phone for the night to get enough sleep. Keeping track of customer and distributor expectations also helps to overcome any challenges – we are all human after all,” Kaukonen says.

Working in sales also has perks, such as flexibility in terms of working hours.

“I’m able to tailor my workday quite freely. For example, if I know that the client needs technical support the next evening, I can organize my other tasks accordingly,” Saarikallio says.

Both Kaukonen and Saarikallio stress that even though day-to-day communication with clients happens through email and video calls, it’s essential to meet face-to-face with the people you actively work with.

“Meeting in person makes it easier to understand the customer. Any number of video calls cannot replace face-to-face meetings when you’re building future collaborations,” Kaukonen concludes.