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Mar 03, 2016
Challenges of working with clients in different time-zones

On Upwork, freelancers can connect, work and receive payment from clients all over the world. However, along with the undeniable benefits and broad opportunities, there are challenges. One of the biggest challenges noted by freelancers who work with clients on the other side of the world is the time difference. For example, It can be rather difficult for a Ukrainian freelancer to stay up late for a meeting with a client in California. Some freelancers even filter their job search by location so they are able to work with clients in their time-zone.

Do you find it difficult to work with clients who are hours ahead or behind you? Do you alter your own schedule to accommodate the client’s needs, or avoid jobs that would require you to do so? Do you manage to take advantage of the time difference? Please, share your tips and best practices.

Community Member

I mostly work with clients that are 8 hours behind me, and there's really no problem with that. I had only one issue once, with a prospective client from Australia that wanted to talk on skype at 6pm his time (7am mine)... I don't usually wake up that early so, when he didn't show up, I was really furious! Smiley Sad

Community Member

I have health problems which contribute to poor sleep patterns. Being able to work in the middle of the night my time when it is normal business hours on the other side of the world is a huge benefit to my situation. I could get work locally, but being able to access clients globally is one of the main reasons I'm on UpWork.

Community Member

I alter my schedule to accomodate my clients. My time zone is completely different from US time zones. I always check the time zone before taking the job and adjust accordingly.

Community Member

I'm OK with eight hours difference either way - but ten or twelve hours can be a schedule headache. I have worked with a New Zealand client (12 hours from France), but it was a long assignment so the time factor - except for the final deadline - wasn't that much of a problem. 


A really big time difference must be exhausting for VA freelancers - or for anyone who is hired for short time-sensitive projects.

Community Member

At present, this isn't an issue for me, but there have been two periods when it was. During one, I lived in the midwest but worked a full time day job based in Manhattan for a year. During that time, I had two clocks, and operated almost entirely on Eastern time except for my daughter's school schedule.


Years earlier, I wrote a book that was based heavily on interviews with musicians, producers, managers, etc. in Australia. That was much more of a challenge,as the time difference was 13 hours and I had a young child at the time. Many nights I was up doing phone interviews at 1 or 2 a.m. and then up with my daughter at 6:30. I don't have any tips around that one, except don't try it long-term. If i were doing it now, without a young child, I'd just flip my schedule for the duration.

Community Member

Your post is really nice. I always like it. thanks

Community Member

Depends on the job.


For the work I do, there is no expectation that I work at the same time as clients. I have had no problem working with clients in the Philippines, Australia, Hong Kong and England, although I live in Arizona.


Where we live was never even discussed with these contracts.


This is an important issue for some jobs, but for most jobs, it is not a factor.

Community Member

Firstly, let me thank you for this cheerful post. I enjoyed reading the replies.


These days, I'm working with a client from New York. It's 6 hours behind from where I live (Alexandria, Egypt).

And I can tell you that time-zone isn't a problem for us both. Conversations between us are very smooth. It always requires me or him 5 minutes to reply. Maybe this happens because I communicate with him in proper times, like, 3 pm (GMT). It's 5 pm here in Alexandria and 11 am there in New York. So, there is absolutely no problem for me as I always choose when to communicate him.

Community Member

It's hard for this part where I have to reject someone just because they have difficulties to understand that I sleep at 4 AM, and it's a weird thing this still happens, because it's easy to navigate to see what time is in my place.

Community Member

I usually work with clients in the US and Europe timezones because it is easier for me to have great communication with them as my work at Upwork is part-time (I'm currently working for a big Corporation also).


Also, I think it depends on the job, for example, I had a client in UK that wanted to speak on Skype 4 o 5 times a day, even in morning UK hours (that means 2am until 6am in my country) and that was a big issue as you can imagine.

Community Member

I find it really challenging when I have to handle a project from Australia and one from the US running simultaneously, while I am located in the middle.

No complaints though, just another challenge :Smiley Happy

Community Member

I don't typically have a problem working with clients in different time zones. Since I freelance full time, having clients from other parts of the world actually works out rather well for me as I can still schedule my own personal appointments during the day and then work at night if I need to have a direct conversation with a client. I've only had one so far that presented a real challenge, and that's because he seems to only be online between 2 and 4am and wants my answers right away, every time, and I just can't be up all night every night just in case he sends a message. But the job shouldn't take too long to complete, so I just do what I can.

Community Member


Working with people in different time zones it what I love about this site. I prefer to work with people who are 5-8 hrs behind me (People in the US). This means that I can work in the evening as I am busy during the working day. Really, it is what allows me to use on this site.


Community Member

I'm used to being awake at night ever since high school when I stay up to read books. I worked in call centers after college and it reinforced that habit because clients we cater to are from overseas (U.S./Canada in particular) whose business hours are the exact opposite of our timezone. 


You can always choose clients from places with almost the same timezone as yours, like Australia for thoseof us who live in the Asia Pacific area. 

Community Member



        That is a great point pertaining to time zones. I will definitely take that into consideration once I start getting clients that are interested in my portfolio.