Planning meetings across time zones

Tips to help plan meetings across time zones.

Woman having a Zoom call at night.

Globalization has impacted the business world in many ways, resulting in companies that are more culturally and geographically diverse. As more companies switch to remote work, the trend toward a more globalized workforce shows no signs of stopping.

Thanks to videoconferencing and messaging platforms, it's easier than ever for workers across the globe to collaborate, even if they're located in different cities, countries, or continents.

Want to broaden your hiring horizon? Use our Time Zone Crossover Calculator to find the optimal locations to hire in.

That said, global teams still face some hurdles: different time zones are one factor that companies need to consider. How can managers and team leaders plan meetings effectively while accounting for time differences?

This guide highlights some of the challenges to consider when planning meetings across time zones, and provides some tips and tools to make the task easier.

Organizing meetings across different time zones

Planning live, synchronous meetings across time zones presents a few unique challenges. First, there's the simple fact that sometimes you can't overcome vast time differences. If you're dealing with a significant difference of more than six hours, finding a convenient meeting time for everyone involved is tricky.

For example, if one employee is in Bangkok and the other is in New York City, you're looking at a 12-hour time difference. A 9:00 a.m. meeting in NYC will be 9:00 p.m. in Bangkok, well past the end of a standard workday.

Second, there's the complexity of coordinating between multiple time zones. When you're juggling people in different time zones, knowing exactly what time it is in each place can be a hassle.

If you aren't careful, a timeslot that falls within the standard workday for most participants could still end up being in the early hours of the morning for one sleepless team member.

Finally, there's the question of meeting preparation, which can get complicated due to time gaps. You want to be sure everyone has the opportunity to review agenda items and documents ahead of a meeting, but this can be tricky across time zones.

For example, say you have a meeting at noon in New York City. The meeting also includes team members in Los Angeles, which is three hours behind the East Coast. Those team members will be dialing in at 9:00 a.m. L.A. time.

You send out the pre-reads for the meeting at 9:00 a.m. NYC time, but there’s still a problem—it's only 6:00 a.m. for your West Coast team. There's a risk that your L.A. team won't have time to start their day and review the documents before the meeting.

Overcoming the challenges of time zone differences

The first issue to tackle when working with a distributed team is the nature of time zones themselves. To solve sticky situations like the Bangkok-NYC scenario described above, it's important to set clear communication guidelines.

For example, some employers will specify that workers need to be available for meetings during a certain period in a certain time zone, such as 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. So, if you have an employee in Bangkok, it's clearly their responsibility to accommodate NYC-based meeting times, even if that means odd hours for them.

Of course, you probably don't want to constantly require a far-flung employee to attend video meetings in the middle of the night. In this case, an asynchronous work approach may be preferable to video meetings.

The next challenge to tackle: planning meetings when you're dealing with lots of different time zones. Oyster’s time zone crossover tool can help!

Using a time zone crossover calculator

Oyster’s time zone crossover calculator can help you determine which time zones fit best with your company and team’s operating hours in order to schedule meetings and prioritize the countries you can hire from globally. Just choose the minimum amount of crossover time you’d like with your team and discover new locations to hire from.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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