Not many years ago, all organizations operated with employees coming to a designated office and working within a fixed time frame. Almost all the employees hailed from local areas or lived near their company office.
However, globalization ushered in an ever-changing competitive business environment with the free flow of technological innovations and human resources across borders. Now, companies are no longer restricted to hiring local talent only – they can tap into the global talent pool and recruit skilled employees from any part of the world.
But a global workforce brought numerous challenges for corporations, the primary one being managing such a vast network seamlessly. Since employees hailed from different corners of the world, issues with time zones became a serious concern. As a result, scheduling meetings in different time zones is a recurring challenge for international corporations.
Why Should you Consider Time Zones When Scheduling Meetings?
Globalization has significantly impacted modern-day HR management and operation schedules. With employees belonging to different time zones, managers have to consider a problem in the equation – how to schedule meetings in different time zones?
Labor laws of different countries advocating different working hours and workplace etiquette further complicated the issue. An employer cannot schedule work meetings post-office hours without overtime pay and a concrete reason for holding the meeting. Any company breaking the country-specific mandates can face hefty penalties and legal issues, as mentioned in the country’s labor laws.
Also, basic workplace etiquette suggests that employers cannot invade an employee’s time. So scheduling across time zones becomes a major concern for employers while planning team meetings.
How do Time Zones Impact International Business?
Time zones play a pivotal role in international business, historically influencing trading partners and operational patterns. Scheduling meetings in different time zones make it more complicated to conduct business due to trading hours mismatch. Thus, corporates must consider time zone conversion while trading with global teams or clients, failing which can negatively impact employee productivity.
To understand the importance of scheduling meetings in different time zones, employers can take the example of the working culture of Spain.
Currently, Spain operates according to the Central European time zone (CET), while its geographic position advocates Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Thus, it is at par with latitudinally similar countries, such as Portugal, Morocco, England, and Mali. Thus, essentially, the work and sleep schedules of the Spanish function in two different time zones – the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and the Central European time zone (CET). This creates an out-of-sync effect, with Spanish professionals working late and waking up early.
Such an incoherent model can immensely hamper employee productivity, creating a domino effect on the company’s business operations.
The Importance of Scheduling Meetings in Different Time Zones
The need to schedule meetings across time zones can be highlighted using the example of Mezimedia Inc. – a company concerned with online shopping tools. When the American office in Los Angeles, USA, calls it a day, its counterpart in Shanghai, China, just begins its workday. Without the proper planning to schedule meetings in multiple time zones, the American branch cannot get in touch with their sales office in Tokyo or product developers in Shanghai. Failure to schedule meetings between time zones may lead to delays in conflict resolution and impact the company’s daily operations.
Independent research has discovered a correlation between early waking hours and low worker productivity. It negatively affects working mentality, causing workplace accidents and creating stress for employees.
Hence, scheduling meetings in multiple time zones requires proper planning to boost workplace productivity and avoid team-syncing problems.
How to Schedule Meeting Across Time Zones?
Now that you know the importance of scheduling meetings in different time zones, you should be aware of the top tricks to ensure collaboration across global teams.
Some major tips to schedule meetings across time zones are:
Use time zone tools
Globalization pushes international organizations to schedule team meetings across multiple time zones. So naturally, this has resulted in a hot market for digital collaboration tools for large teams spread across borders.
For instance, employers worldwide use Slack, a centralized team communication app, to foster communication virtually and collaboration. Around 8 million people use this app to schedule meetings in multiple time zones.
Similarly, the bot Spacetime.am is a handy tool for employees who need to specify their location and exhibit their work hours. It allows users to schedule conference calls across time zones by automatically setting the time to each team member’s time zone. This makes it easier for employers to check which employees are online.
Employers can also use Google Calendar to find common ground for setting the timings for global meetings. It allows you to access the schedules of your team members. You can add up to 20 guests to view your calendar and create shared events using the ‘Find a Time’ function.
Using such tools, companies can make remote collaboration a smooth-sailing affair.
Ask for questions in advance
Any globally distributed employee team faces the challenge of handling workers running on different energy levels. While a section of employees in a particular location may get work calls after their workday ends, others might be enjoying their lunch break or just starting their day.
Hence, employers can ask participants relevant questions to assess their work schedule when scheduling conference calls across time zones. They can prepare an agenda for the meeting and send it out in advance. Once the agenda is set, they can start preparing questions for employees across different time zones to create a cohesive, collaborative schedule. Employees can add or edit details mentioned in the schedule.
Online tools like Loom are great for this purpose. Employers can use this video messaging app to ask questions to the members in advance and record their updates in the app itself. The entire process becomes much more transparent. Digital meeting-specific tools like Meetric – a free note-taking app that you can add to your Google Calendar – can be instrumental in scheduling meetings across time zones.
Create a solid agenda
As mentioned before, employers must prepare agendas for all global team meetings.
Essentially, it is a checklist of objectives and deadlines that employers must hit while meeting with their employees.
Since time is crucial in scheduling global team meetings, set agendas allow employers to cover all vital pointers during the session, keeping the discussion on the set course. Also, when you notify the employees about meeting agendas, they can come prepared on their part.
How to Schedule Meetings in Different Time Zones?
Let’s take the example of Poland to see how work hours should be set while conducting international business. Organizations in Poland conduct business and schedule meetings across time zones without invading employees’ time or making them work at odd times.
Poland and the Middle East
Due to the characteristic high temperature and humid climate, the working hours in the Middle East region extend from 8 AM to 1 PM, followed by a 3-hour break. They resume working from 4 PM to 7 PM when the temperature becomes bearable again. Poland generally begins work hours from 8 AM till 3 PM, giving them about 5-6 common working hours with the Middle East. Polish corporations schedule their meetings with Middle Eastern clients/employees accordingly.
Poland and the United States
The regular working hours in America extend from 9 AM to 6 PM. Hence, Poland and the U.S. can share a minimum of 4 working hours. However, this can be extended to 13 hours with flexibility on both sides. These overlaps make Poland and Canada great for scheduling meetings across time zones.
How Can Multiplier Help?
As more businesses enter the international scenario, it becomes vital for companies to rethink their HR management strategies. HR wings must constantly stay updated with the laws of various countries where their companies operate and the respective time zones to ensure smooth collaboration.
With so many things to juggle, it may become overwhelming for employers to schedule meetings across time zones, manage multiple currency payrolls, and manage their international teams. However, Multiplier can help address all such HR issues.
Connect with our experts to learn more about our services.
Q. What is the biggest issue when scheduling meetings in different time zones?
The labor legislatures of the different countries play a significant role while employers schedule conference calls across time zones. They advocate different working hours in each country, and the failure of factoring in this issue might attract penalties and legal trouble.
Q. How do you overcome the challenges of scheduling meetings across time zones?
To overcome the challenge of scheduling across time zones, employers can take help from various digital tools and online applications, such as Google Calendar and Boomerang. They need to prepare meeting agendas beforehand and create possible queries in advance. A little flexibility is required from both sides to overcome this issue.
Q. Does failure to account for time zones while scheduling meetings affect businesses?
Independent study has found a correlation between out-of-sync working hours and low productivity of employees. Hence, while scheduling meetings across time zones, employers must factor in varying time zones and find common time slots in associates’ working hours from all across the globe.