There are several reasons why more and more people are working remotely today. One is that technology has made it more convenient to be connected no matter where you are. With email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and other tools, it’s easy to stay in touch with colleagues and clients no matter where you are. Of course, the rise of remote work means working with colleagues in different countries and scheduling meetings across time zones.
Working Across Time Zones
While having a global workforce can be exciting and offer new opportunities for collaboration, it also comes with a few challenges. A big one is coordinating schedules. When you’re trying to arrange a meeting or conference call, you have to take into account the time difference between everyone involved. This can make scheduling meetings and calls a bit more complicated.
Another challenge is the issue of different work hours. If you’re working with someone in a different time zone, they may be starting their workday when you’re just getting off work. This can make it difficult to communicate or collaborate on projects.
Finally, there’s the issue of adjusting to a different time zone. If you’re traveling to meet with colleagues in person, you may experience jet lag. This can make it difficult to focus and be productive.
Overall, working across time zones can be a bit of a challenge. However, with careful planning and communication, it is possible to make it work. Here are our tips for coordinating work and ensuring no one on your team gets left behind.
Scheduling Meetings Across Time Zones in America
What time do you usually work? If you have a fully distributed team in America, you probably have colleagues in up to four major time zones. Teams spread across the U.S. work within Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central (CST), Mountain (MST), and Pacific (PST).
If you have teammates in Canada, they’ll likely be within one of these time zones as well – unless they’re from the Atlantic coastal provinces (ahead of EST by 1 hour) or Newfoundland (ahead of EST by 2 hours). Latin American countries are also within these time zones:
Shares the U.S. EST time zone
- Mexico (Quintana Roo)
Shares U.S. CST
- Mexico (most other states)
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
Shares U.S. MST
- Baja California Sur
- Revillagigedo Islands
Shares U.S. PST
- Mexico (Baja California)
In addition to these, some countries are just ahead of U.S. EST by 1 hour. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Bolivia fall within this category.
The best way to coordinate with teammates across these time zones is by holding meetings during 1:00-3:00 PM EST. These hours work well because they are in the middle of the workday, no matter where within the four zones you are.
For example, if you hold a meeting in the early afternoon in EST, say 1:30 PM, you’ll be catching your CST and MST colleagues around lunch (at 12:30 PM and 11:30 AM respectively), and your PST co-workers well after their shift has started (10:30 AM).
Scheduling calls during these hours ensures that no one has to get up too early or stay at the office too late to attend meetings.
Scheduling Meetings Across Time Zones in Europe
Meeting with teams across time zones can be tricky, especially if you’re a U.S company meeting colleagues in Europe! When scheduling meetings, you must take into consideration the significant time difference. Most major European cities are five or seven hours ahead of EST.
Countries following GMT (Greenwich Median Time, or EST +4):
- United Kingdom
Countries following CET (Central European Time, EST +6):
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
- North Macedonia
- San Marino
- Vatican City
Countries following EET (Eastern European Time, EST +7):
If your company is located in the U.S., especially if you’re on the West Coast, you need to make significant accommodations for this time difference. Cities in California, Washington, and other states in PST are 8 to 10 hours behind most of Europe. If you want to schedule a meeting at 8:00 AM PST, consider that in Paris, Berlin, or Amsterdam, they’ll be wrapping up their workday by then, since it’ll be 5:00 PM their local time.
Scheduling Meetings Globally
But what if you have a fully-remote workforce, with employees spread across continents? If you have teammates in the U.S., Australia, London, Japan, and the Middle East, and you want to meet at a common hour, some of you would have to wake up extremely early or stay up very late to attend the meeting. There’s just no way around it! Luckily, you can make scheduling meetings across time zones more bearable with a few tried and tested tips.
Tips for Scheduling Across Time Zones
There’s no silver bullet for scheduling meetings with colleagues in different time zones. But there are tips and tricks seasoned distributed teams have learned along the way. Here are things you can try to make meetings more manageable when you’re in a remote team!
Rotate Meeting Schedules
If you’re the kind of person who likes to compromise and make everyone happy, then this is a perfect system for your team. All members get an opportunity at having their preferred meeting times–even if they don’t always happen to be during normal work hours or when there are other commitments in place!
With the unfortunate reality of scheduling meetings in different time zones, some people will get to meet at times that are very convenient for them while others compromise and choose less ideal ones.
Although it may seem like a good idea to find one single meeting time that works well with everyone on your team, it’s not always feasible. Rotating when you meet ensures that everyone gets the “ideal” meeting time for them at least once in a while.
Do More Asynchronous Work
Consider working asynchronously on days you will be in meetings with team members across the globe. Talk to your manager about setting up remote days during which your team works flexible hours. You may also propose that each person get a window of uninterrupted time for individual tasks without real-time communication requirements.
Keeping flexible hours on meeting days lets everyone schedule their activities around the meeting hours as they see fit. Asynchronous work will keep the pressure off your team to “show up” virtually, which lets them concentrate on their tasks.
Wing Assistants and clients often use Wink, a free tool for our clients similar to Loom that lets you record instructions, feedback, or common business processes. This helps you and your team stay on the same page without needing to find a time to meet.
Record Your Meetings
It’s easy to miss a meeting when you’re juggling work and personal commitments. If people are consistently missing scheduled time, then consider recording the sessions as they happen.
This practice lets everyone watch the meeting later on at their convenience. Recording meetings may seem like a hassle at first, but they’re great for getting people up to speed quickly.
The days of missing out on important business decisions because you weren’t able to attend a meeting are over thanks to apps like Google Meet and Zoom. Note that you’d need consent from everyone before recording your meeting. Even if video conferencing tools prompt participants in case meetings are recorded, it’s good practice to let people know that a meeting will be recorded. At Wing’s head office, we primarily use Fireflies.ai to record our meetings.
Prepare all participants for meetings
When you have a distributed team, it’s important to ensure that everyone is ready for meetings. This means sending out the agenda ahead of time so they can research what will be discussed, giving them opportunities to ask questions before attending, and taking care of logistical concerns like meeting links/conference codes.
You might think that you’re prepared for a meeting, but is your team? The benefit goes beyond just making sure no one falls through the cracks. Giving team members enough time to prepare (which can involve coordinating with each other) ensures that they stay connected and that their morale is up – vital for a team that doesn’t see each other in person.
Use Meeting Schedulers
Finally, using tools like When2Meet and Calendly will help you figure out the best time for your team to share updates or brainstorm about an initiative. When2Meet is the better option for setting a date and time for team meetings, while Calendly is more suited for scheduling 1-1s.
Scheduling Meetings Across Time Zones? Let a VA Do That!
It’s not easy figuring out the best time to meet colleagues or clients several time zones away. If you have several of these meetings to schedule at a time, it could take up hours of your workday. Don’t fritter your time away on admin tasks—hire a virtual assistant to do that for you!
Look no further than Wing for top-notch virtual talent. Our managed, dedicated VAs receive comprehensive training and work in a supportive environment, and in your requested timezone, so with Wing, you can be sure that your calendar is in very good hands. Get in touch today to learn more!
Aya is Wing Assistant’s blog manager. When she’s not wrangling content briefs, editing article drafts and handling on-page SEO, she is crafting messages for Wing’s other communication materials. Aya writes about SaaS startups, marketing for startups, search engine optimization, and pop culture.