The Nuances of Scheduling Meetings Across Time Zones

The Nuances of Scheduling Meetings Across Time Zones

Introduction

As more employers open themselves to hiring remote employees, the talent pool becomes increasingly more qualified with every job posted. Because employers no longer require employees to live in their area, companies have access to top talent from around the world.

However, hiring a globally distributed team has its challenges. For example, it can be difficult to find the time for employers to connect with employees living in different time zones, especially if there's a significant time difference.

In addition, as companies grow into international markets, building connections with international distributors and clients can only be possible by choosing a time to have a discourse. Of course, scheduling meetings in different time zones is no easy feat, but learning how to communicate with employees and clients in other countries is essential to operate a functioning, modern business.

Continue reading to learn why you should consider time zones when scheduling meetings, how time zones affect international business, why scheduling meetings across time zones is essential, and how you can do it successfully.

Why Should You Consider Time Zones When Scheduling Meetings?

Choosing time zones when scheduling meetings is essential to valuing everyone's time equally and finding a meeting time that works for everyone.

When you plan a meeting across time zones, there's a possibility that the meeting will end up being scheduled at a minorly inconvenient time for everyone. Still, even this is essential to ensuring everyone is on equal footing.

There are four time zones in the continental United States alone, meaning even remote employees living in the same country may have to compromise. Consider, for instance, that your company is based in New York City, but several of your employees are in Los Angeles.

If you plan a weekly meeting for Monday mornings at 8 a.m., these employees will have to begin each work week by waking up and getting camera-ready by 5 a.m. While this may be unavoidable in some instances, you need to consider how time zones affect everyone involved in the meeting to indicate that you value the other meeting attendee's time more than your own.  

In the above example, consider moving the meeting forward three or four hours to fall under regular business hours for all attendees.

While you can schedule a meeting across time zones to work for everyone involved, sometimes, depending on the time differences, the meeting may fall outside of regular business hours for at least one meeting-goer.

For example, if one of the above employees in Los Angeles needs to set up a meeting time with a client in Berlin, the two parties will need to find a time that works for each of them while understanding the constraints involved because Berlin is nine hours ahead of Los Angeles. In this instance, Los Angeles employees will need to attend the meeting at the beginning of their workday, while the client in Berlin will join at the end of theirs.

Meeting across time zones requires compromise and awareness of multiple schedules, which substantially impacts international business.

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How Do Time Zones Impact International Business?

Although it's not the first thing that comes to mind when businesses assess what impacts their success at conducting international business, time zones play a significant role in internal communication and customer service.

How Time Zones Impact Internal Communication

As more companies opt for internationally diverse teams, internal communication becomes increasingly difficult. While a few hours of time difference generally doesn't create a huge ripple in a company's productivity, some time differences can pose real problems.

Suppose team members wait for responses from individuals living in a different time zone to complete projects they're working on. In that case, significant roadblocks can be created if co-workers in other time zones have already left for the day.

In addition, using standard business communication tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams becomes significantly less efficient when remote employees are away from their computers simultaneously.

To ensure that employees operating in different time zones don't negatively impact the productivity of your international business, you will need to factor time changes into employee communication protocols. Also, ensure that employees in different time zones are finding times to meet regularly to troubleshoot issues and ensure that internal communication continues to run smoothly.

How Time Zones Impact Customer Service

Time zones can significantly affect how good of an experience your customer service team provides, which is essential to maintaining a positive relationship with your customers.

While providing excellent customer service is a baseline for companies who want to remain competitive in today's marketplace, an equally important factor is providing prompt customer service.

For example, suppose you own a website hosting company. Even if you have a specific FAQ page on your website, you will likely have hundreds or more customers requiring daily assistance from your technical support team.

Suppose you don't have employees working in different time zones. In that case, users living in areas with time zones different from your typical business hours may only have their questions answered the following day, which can severely impact their user experience.

Additionally, because you still need to diversify your technical support team to different time zones, your team will begin each day with hundreds of inquiries they need to catch up on before providing immediate service to new customers.

Even if your company doesn't require an external customer service team, all business partners and stakeholders must be able to contact your team reasonably promptly.

The Importance of Scheduling Meetings in Different Time Zones

Scheduling meetings in different time zones is necessary for a globally functioning business. Whether you need to communicate with internal members of your team or external clients and business partners, communication is a part of the foundation of any successful business.

With the ability to meet in person (or virtually), all business communication will be conducted exclusively via email, which makes it easier to have an open dialogue where each party can communicate clearly.

In addition, holding meetings that employees living in different time zones can attend communicates to them that you value their input and consider them part of the team.

Working at different hours from most other employees can be an isolating experience, and you may have to go the extra mile to ensure those team members feel included.

How To Schedule Meetings Across Time Zones

Scheduling meetings across time zones takes significant organization to ensure that business functions run optimally and that your globally distributed team feels connected.

Consider the following ways to manage meeting schedules across time zones:

  • Use scheduling tools. Consider utilizing tools to assist individuals trying to meet in different time zones. This can reduce mistakes associated with confusing what time zone someone is in and can be extremely helpful when organizing a meeting between three or more parties in varying time zones.
  • Do your best to work within regular business hours. While it's only sometimes possible, try to schedule meetings within everyone's typical work day, even if it's the beginning of one employee's day and the end of another's.
  • If you miss a meeting with someone whose office is right down the hall from yours, it's typically easy to find another time to meet. Finding another time can take days if you miss a meeting across time zones. Use calendar invites to ensure meetings are scheduled and organized.
  • Communication is the best way to ensure meetings run smoothly across time zones. First, check in with the attendees to find a reasonable meeting time. Next, communicate that the meeting time may be ideal for some. It will be kept as brief as possible and rotate one team member.
  • Send meeting reminders. In addition to calendar invites, checking in with meeting attendees the day before the meeting is an excellent way to ensure no last-minute hiccups. Sending reminders is especially important if meetings are conducted outside regular business hours.
  • Create an itinerary and stick to it. Remember that meetings across time zones often require at least one team member to work outside their typical workday, so honoring their time by keeping the meeting as short as possible is essential.

Whatever tools you find most beneficial, scheduling meetings across time zones requires more work upfront to ensure that all parties can meet at a time that works for them.

How Skuad Can Help You Manage Your Globally Distributed Team

Hiring and managing globally distributed teams presents many challenges for employers, and the process can be complicated further by barriers like different languages, labor laws, and time zones.

By partnering with a global employment and payroll platform, you can ensure that your company complies with relevant local tax and employment laws when hiring international talent. You will also benefit from local expertise and guidance.  

Request a demo today to see how Skuad can help you grow and manage your global team in more than 160 countries.

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