How do I Manage Team Meetings with Different Time Zones? (2023)

Technology can make the world feel smaller. Currently, working with a team in different time zones is more common than ever. Even before the pandemic, more and more companies were going virtual and opting to incorporate teammates located halfway across the globe.

Onboarding overseas employees allow many companies to diversify talent, cut costs, and reach new audiences. However, operating a team across several time zones presents challenges to productivity, cohesion, and company culture.

Startups and Fortune 500 companies alike are asking:

  • How do I schedule a meeting for team members from four different time zones?
  • Is it better to do all video-conferencing meetings, or can some meetings be asynchronous?
  • How can I make sure the entire team stays on the same page?
  • What is proper time zone etiquette for business?
  • Which project management apps and online tools should my company be using?

Here at Rootstrap, we have team members in New York, Los Angeles, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and beyond, working all hours of the day. Despite the scheduling hurdles, our international team has met daily with success.

We’re here with a comprehensive guide on overcoming the time-zone-related challenges of running a global team.

Get a Project Manager

Trying to figure out when is a good time to FaceTime a friend living overseas is tough enough, let alone coordinating multiple professionals’ schedules across time zones.

If you are managing an international team, don’t take on scheduling alone. Designate a project manager and delegate.

If you are the project manager, here’s what you can do:

Know Your Team’s Time Zones

It’s up to the project manager to know and keep track of each teammate’s time zone. Learning everyone’s time zone in mind may be easier if your company operates out of a few set offices overseas. On the other hand, if your teammates are scattered across the globe, memorizing everyone’s zone may require more of a learning curve.

If you’re a project manager, try using visual aids to help you stay organized, including:

  • A time zone chart on your desk
  • A map representing time zones
  • A separate clock on the wall for each team member’s time zone

One easy way to check on a teammate’s time zone is to add their time zone to the clock app on your phone. That way, if you’re not in the office, you’ll still be able to check what time it is across the world conveniently.

As the project manager, it’s essential for you to keep track of your team’s time zones. However, it’s also important information for the rest of your team. Encourage everyone to get familiar with each other’s zones in relation to their own, especially if they collaborate frequently.

Find a way to help your whole team to be aware of each other’s time zone. Use graphics, periodic friendly reminders, and other methods to promote ‘time zone empathy.’ Encourage teammates to be mindful of what time it is for their coworkers when they said emails and instant messages. That way, no one will get pushed over the edge by one too many 3 am pings.

(Video) 4 Rules to Manage Remote Teams in Different Time Zones [GIVEAWAY FINISHED]

Schedule Team Meetings

Project managers must work with oversight and the rest of the team to decide on team meetings’ frequency and time.

You’ll likely need to adjust the frequency of your team’s meetings as projects ebb and flow. Some meetings may involve your entire team, while others require just a handful of teammates.

If your team uses an Agile project management methodology, like the Scrum system, your team’s day should start with 15-minute meetings called Daily Scrums. These daily roundups pose a special challenge for teams whose ‘day’ begins at different times.

Strategize as a team how you will hold these regular meetings. If your time zones are relatively close, a video or phone conference may work. If you have coworkers spread across the world, you may need to compromise with an asynchronous meeting.

Try to minimize unnecessary – or unnecessarily long – team meetings. Aim to accommodate time differences as much as possible and avoid demanding extremes, but remember it’s likely not possible to set the ‘perfect’ meeting time for everyone.

Use Project Management Tools

Rather than depending solely on disjointed strings of text and emails, take advantage of digital project management tools. There’s a mountain of free and paid project management software choices that can help you and your team get organized and communicate across time zones.

Some popular project management platforms and tools include:

Your team may choose to incorporate one or multiple project management tools into your workflow. Research the features of each platform before committing to ensure it will meet the needs of your company. If you decide to integrate multiple tools, define when, how, why you’ll use each tool, and then clearly communicate that to your team.

Using project management software can take some of the load off you as the project manager, facilitating cooperation and helping the team interact more purposefully.

Beyond project management software, more tools can help you and your team make a realistic schedule.

Tools for Scheduling Across Time Zones

Most project management platforms will display each team member’s time zone in their profile. Still, clicking through everyone’s profile can be a bit of a roundabout way to schedule a meeting. Thankfully, there are plenty of online tools and apps to schedule a meeting across time zones more efficiently.

Here are some tools to schedule a meeting for team members in different time zones:

  • timeanddate.com – Add multiple cities or zones, see the time difference between them, and get visuals gauges (red, yellow, or green) to help you decide whether a meeting time is good or not so good for your teammates. Download the app for an easy meeting planner.
  • thetimezoneconverter.com – A basic, intuitive converter from time zone to time zone.
  • www.worldtimebuddy.com – After adding your teammate’s time zones, you’ll get an easy-to-read chart comparing all the times and have the option to create an event and send a notification to your team regarding a meeting at a specific time.
  • spacetime.am – This platform takes the math out of time conversions and presents your team in a neat and fun chart, even letting you see the weather in each member’s city. The app even works within Slack and makes it easier to find your team’s ideal meeting time.
  • Google Calendar – If you use your Google Calendar to track meetings and stay organized, you can go into Settings and add multiple time zones to help you stay on track with your team.
  • timezone.io – Plug each team member into this tool and visualize what time it is for everyone. Click and drag to see what times will work for meetings and who may be sleeping.

Honorable mention: Boomerang – While it’s not a time zone converter, Boomerang integrates into your Gmail and allows you to schedule emails to be sent later at a time more convenient for your teammate. It also lets team members press pause on their inbox while sleeping, or at times they need to work distraction-free. Beyond that, it can simplify the process of scheduling via email.

(Video) Tutorial - How to reduce time zone errors for meetings

Now that you have the tools you need to get your team organized and operating across time zones, what else should you keep in mind as a global company?

Avoid Burnout

When working with teammates on the other side of the world, it can be easy to unwittingly pressure them or pressure yourself to be available 24/7. The ‘always online’ approach is both unrealistic and unsustainable.

How can you make sure nobody on your team gets burned out?

Set Limits and Expectations

Navigating time differences can be taxing. From the outset, establish clear boundaries for yourself and encourage your team members to do so as well. Let your team know what hours you are available, and stick to it. Then, respect the limits that others have by not expecting them to get back to you ASAP on their off-hours.

Try to get needed rest and then focus on being alert and present during your working hours, avoiding being glued to your devices. Remember, not all emails or messages merit an immediate reply. At the same time, be a flexible team player. If your assistance is needed with an urgent matter during non-office hours, be willing to make exceptions within reason.

If you’re the manager, make sure all employees have a clear understanding of your expectations and are accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities from afar.

“Because you won’t be as available to overseas employees, it is important that you are clear about what you expect,” advises Leni Zneimer, Vice President of Community WeWork in the U.K. and Ireland in Entrepreneur. “Setting objectives and summarizing actions for each week will help to keep everyone in the loop while ensuring that all employees are aware of what is expected of them in terms of delivery — regardless of whether their working hours overlap with yours.”

Of course, the key to setting limits and expectations is good communication.

Communicate Clearly

If you’re starting to feel burnt out from too many early mornings or late nights to accommodate your distant teammate’s schedule, don’t hesitate to speak up. Keep it kind and calm, but share how the schedule is placing a strain on you. On the same token, give an ear to your teammates if they voice concerns over scheduling.

Being transparent can help your team adapt and conquer challenges together instead of bottling up counterproductive grievances. If you’re in a management position, remember that it will be easier to retain talented employees if you create a positive working environment where your employees feel heard.

Identify times when you and your coworkers’ in-office hours overlap, and then take advantage of that time to communicate, hold meetings, and collaborate on team projects. Save solo work for when your overseas teammates are asleep.

Since making a cross-continental working relationship succeed is a team effort, it’s essential to share the burden.

It can be tempting for management to schedule meetings that work best for them or plan around the time zone at HQ. However, this approach does little to encourage friendly feelings and loyalty within the team.

(Video) Meeting across Time Zones | World Time Buddy | Outlook Calendar Tweaks

Instead of accommodating just one zone and asking teammates on the other side of the world to sacrifice sleep every time, why not take turns having meetings at a convenient time?

“Several months ago we started a rotating meeting schedule,” says Donna Flynn, Director at Steelcase in Harvard Business Review. “Every month, each team member now has one evening, one mid-day, and one early morning meeting, and misses one meeting that falls in the middle of their night. No team member is expected to attend a team meeting between 10 pm and 7 am.”

Scheduling around multiple time zones is a difficult dance and requires cooperation on everyone’s part, but it can work if everyone is on board.

Strategies for Midnight Calls

If your team is spread far and wide, but you desperately need all-hands-on-deck for a real-time meeting, there may be no choice but for part of your team to tune in at midnight.

Have a Plan

For some teams, the occasional late night or early morning call may be unavoidable. In that case, the team member who will be leading the meeting should plan ahead. Establishing a concrete agenda can help the meeting move along, cover all the important bases, and let sleep-deprived team members get back to their rest without further adieu.

Put a Cap on it

Since meetings often run longer than planned, try to agree on a time limit as a team and stick to it. If you find your team straying off-topic, kindly suggest making a note of the matter and discussing it at a later time, perhaps via messaging.

Include Everyone

Whether your team meets through video or phone conferencing, be sure everyone involved has an opportunity to speak up. This may be especially tough if some of your team meets in person while others tie in virtually. Even if it’s midnight their time, your teammate may have a game-changing idea to share with your team. Include everyone by asking for comments and questions throughout the meeting.

Show Appreciation

Waking up early and staying up late can take a toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. When a team member is willing to be flexible or even bends over backward for the good of the rest of the team, be sure to thank them. Sometimes a little commendation is all someone needs to go from feeling ‘grumpy I had to wake up to ‘glad to be here.’

Keys to Successful Async Meetings

In many cases, it’s possible to hold successful team meetings without meeting in real-time.

Of course, there’s no replacement for the value of face-to-face or voice-to-voice communication. Your team will need to meet over video or phone conferencing at regular intervals. Still, shifting to asynchronous (AKA async) meetings may be best for Daily Scrums and other frequent meet-ups across time zones.

Asynchronous meetings let teammates discuss a topic in a virtual space — such as on a project management platform or using an instant messaging app — without necessitating an immediate reply.

Benefits of async meetings include:

  • More productivity: Instead of stopping in the middle of a project to have a team meeting or spending hours trying to schedule a time that works best for everyone to meet, an async meeting allows the team to participate in the discussion when they can.
  • Less note-taking: Depending on your project management software, your team’s meeting will be automatically documented in writing on the platform, so you can easily refer back to it.
  • More communication options: Since some team members prefer text over voice communication, you can draw out ideas that may not have come up over a video call. Additionally, the low-pressure environment acts as a filter, helping team members stop and articulate responses before speaking up.
  • Less inconvenience: None of your team members will have to set a 4 am alarm for daily meetings.

With async meetings, your project manager in time zone A can start a meeting with your team of software devs in time zones C and D without requiring them to participate in real-time. Later, during their working hours, the devs can tune in and contribute, whether via message, voice note, or other means.

(Video) How to view people's time zones in Microsoft Teams

If you want to incorporate async meetings into your team’s workflow, what should you keep in mind?

Here are a few pointers on holding successful async meetings:

  • Pick a virtual venue: Whether on Slack, WhatsApp, Soapbox, a Google Docs comment section, or whatever works best for your team, establish how you will communicate.
  • Create an agenda: Like a typical meeting, an async meeting should have a plan and a point. It should differ from ongoing team chats and focus on a specific project, task, or challenge.
  • Set Expectations: While everyone won’t be able to join the discussion all at once, establish a timeline for when each team member is expected to participate.
  • Include Only Relevant Teammates: Keep meetings to a minimum for each teammate by only including members directly involved in the project. Keeping participants to a minimum will cut down digital clutter and make your team more willing to take part.

Async meetings have their place, but if your team is struggling to get something done over an async meeting, don’t hesitate to schedule a more traditional meeting. Making time for periodic video meetings can help your team get more familiar with each other and prevent feelings of isolation.

IT Staff Augmentation Services

As a global team at Rootstrap, we know what it’s like to juggle time zones. Making a success of cross-continental working relationships is definitely in our wheelhouse.

If your company is seeking to expand its team overseas and diversify digital talent, Rootstrap’s IT staff augmentation services can help. Whether you need a little extra IT muscle on your side or a full-blown software development team, we can supply you with the right talent at the right time.

Our talented devs will be an asset to your team since we know what it’s like to work virtually and collaborate with coworkers in different time zones.
Get in touch with us! We’d love to chat about how outsourcing your IT department can help you minimize development costs while your team.

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Want to work with Shaun Kennedy ?We are hiring :)

(Video) Outlook Tutorial - Working with different timezones

FAQs

How would you prioritize your work while working with different teams from different time zones? ›

Tips for working with time zones
  • MAKE IT FAIR. ...
  • ORGANIZE YOUR TEAM WELL. ...
  • PRIORITIZE YOUR OVERLAP TIME. ...
  • CREATE A TEAM AGREEMENT. ...
  • MAKE A SHARED CALENDAR. ...
  • RECORD MEETINGS. ...
  • DOUBLE CHECK TIMES. ...
  • START THINKING IN MULTIPLE TIME ZONES.

How do you handle time zone differences at work? ›

5 ways to overcome workplace time zone differences
  1. Use online tools. Effective communication and collaboration often come down to one thing: using the right online tools. ...
  2. Keep an open line of communication. ...
  3. Set expectations. ...
  4. Don't micromanage. ...
  5. Ask for regular feedback.
7 Jun 2022

How do you manage if most of your clients are from different time zones? ›

5 tips for managing clients across different time zones
  1. 1) Be organized and know your zones.
  2. 2) Utilize Google Calendar.
  3. 3) Communicate clearly and regularly.
  4. 4) Structure your day accordingly.
  5. 5) Set boundaries for yourself.
  6. Finding your flow.
4 Mar 2016

Do teams meetings adjust for time zones? ›

Selecting your preferred language and region also updates your time and date format. Moreover, when the meeting is sent to the participant, it will automatically adjust to the timezone set on their teams respectively to ensure that it is set on time for the other users.

How do teams have multiple time zones? ›

Click Time Zone. Select the Show an additional time zone check box. In the Label box, type a name for the additional time zone. In the Time zone list, click the time zone that you want to add.

How do you manage team during times of change? ›

How to lead your team through change
  1. Assemble a strong leadership team ahead of time. ...
  2. Bring in outside help. ...
  3. Recruit from within. ...
  4. Make a plan. ...
  5. Designate a point person. ...
  6. Hold a meeting. ...
  7. Educate and explain. ...
  8. Create an employee transition team.

How do you schedule your time set priorities How do you handle multiple tasks at once? ›

To help you manage your team's workload and hit deadlines on time, here are 6 steps to prioritizing projects that have a lot of moving parts.
  1. Collect a list of all your tasks. ...
  2. Identify urgent vs. ...
  3. Assess the value of your tasks. ...
  4. Order tasks by estimated effort. ...
  5. Be flexible and adaptable. ...
  6. Know when to cut.

How do you deal with time conflicts or prioritize your activities? ›

  1. Schedule Work Effectively. Your first step is to clarify your current priorities and to manage your schedule effectively. ...
  2. Negotiate Deadlines. Once you've clarified your priorities, look at your responsibilities and identify any deadlines that you need to re-negotiate. ...
  3. Manage Expectations. ...
  4. Be Professional. ...
  5. Be Flexible.

How do you explain different time zones? ›

The Earth is loosely divided into 24 regions (time zones) separated by longitude. Not counting local variations, each line of longitude is divided by fifteen degrees; as a general rule and depending upon which way one travels, time moves forward or backward one hour for every fifteen degrees of longitude.

How do I prepare for a different time zone? ›

How do I adjust to living in a new time zone?
  1. Slowly adapt to your new sleeping schedule. ...
  2. Rest for three days before you leave. ...
  3. Cut back on alcohol, caffeine and sugar. ...
  4. Drink plenty of water. ...
  5. Drink more water. ...
  6. Sleep or stay awake depending on arrival time. ...
  7. Reset your watch. ...
  8. Go to bed or eat breakfast depending on arrival time.
19 Dec 2014

How do I manage multiple time zones in Outlook? ›

Outlook Calendar - Displaying two time zones
  1. From Outlook, click File – Options.
  2. From the left task bar, click Calendar, under the Time Zones section, check the Show a second time zone box.
  3. Type in a label indicating the time zone and from the Time zone dropdown, select the appropriate time zone.
  4. Click OK.

What are the five 5 change management strategies? ›

5 Change Management Strategies for Leaders
  • Establish a Clear Vision. ...
  • Leverage the Change Management Timeline. ...
  • Support Your Employees. ...
  • Ensure Effective Two-Way Communication. ...
  • Focus on Skill Development.

What are the three most important things when managing a team? ›

What makes an excellent manager?
  • A clear understanding of their own responsibilities.
  • A desire to achieve team and organizational goals.
  • Regular check-ins by managers and supervisors.
24 Oct 2022

What are the four basic strategies of managing change? ›

4 Change Management Principles
  • Understand Change.
  • Plan Change.
  • Implement Change.
  • Communicate Change.

How do you manage time and priorities interview question? ›

How to answer "How do you prioritize your work?"
  1. Describe how you schedule your day. ...
  2. Explain how you shift between priorities. ...
  3. Discuss how you set your deadlines. ...
  4. Tell how you maintain work-life balance. ...
  5. Connect your answer to the job requirements.

How do you handle multiple tasks at the same time interview question? ›

Example Answer

I find gratification in accomplishing more than less, so I prefer to take on a little more. It's better than handling only one issue at a time. I've learned to batch tasks so that I'm focusing on similar activities at the same time. That way, I don't lose time and focus when I switch tasks.

What are three early strategies for managing conflict within teams? ›

First, make sure that team members understand basic conflict resolution skills.
...
5 Conflict Management Steps
  • Speak to Team Members Individually. ...
  • Bring People Together. ...
  • Ask the Wider Team for Ideas. ...
  • Draw up a Plan. ...
  • Follow up.

How do you manage time conflict? ›

Tips for handling scheduling conflicts
  1. Make an employee schedule. A master schedule that sets forth how employees divide their time keeps conflicts at bay. ...
  2. Budget for breaks. ...
  3. Name backups. ...
  4. Adopt an understanding attitude. ...
  5. Give workers the ability to propose an alternate time.
14 Feb 2019

What are the 7 strategies for managing conflict? ›

Share This
  • Deal with it. Most people prefer to avoid conflict. ...
  • Think it through. ...
  • Talk it out, face to face. ...
  • Use a mediator if necessary. ...
  • Apologize when appropriate. ...
  • Choose your battles. ...
  • Work to minimize conflict. ...
  • Work on your own communication skills.

What are time zones short answer? ›

A time zone is an area which observes a uniform standard time for legal, commercial and social purposes. Time zones tend to follow the boundaries between countries and their subdivisions instead of strictly following longitude, because it is convenient for areas in frequent communication to keep the same time.

What are time zones give an example? ›

The term time zone is often used instead of local time. For instance, during DST, it is common to say “California and Arizona are now in the same time zone.” However, the correct thing to say would be: “California and Arizona now have the same local time.”

What are the four types of time zones? ›

All of the people in a given zone set their clocks the same way, and each zone is one hour different from the next. In the continental United States there are four time zones (click here for a map): Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific.

Why do we have different time zones short answer? ›

As Earth rotates on its axis, it moves about 15 degrees every 60 minutes. After 24 hours, it has completed a full rotation of 360 degrees. The scientists used this information to divide the planet into 24 sections or time zones.

What are the 5 main time zones? ›

United States and regional time zones
Time zoneStandardDST
AtlanticUTC−04:00(not observed)
EasternUTC−05:00UTC−04:00
CentralUTC−06:00UTC−05:00
MountainUTC−07:00UTC−06:00
7 more rows

How do you survive long distance with time difference? ›

How To Do A Long-Distance Relationship When You're On Completely Different Schedules
  1. Don't Overthink It. Giphy. ...
  2. Talk About Your Concerns. Giphy. ...
  3. Make Your Relationship A Priority. Giphy. ...
  4. Use Various Forms Of Communication. Giphy. ...
  5. Practice Patience And Resilience. Giphy.
27 Apr 2018

What is biggest challenge with time management? ›

Taking on too many tasks can be a challenge for time management. Although it is often easy to accept new tasks with enthusiasm, sometimes the reality of the time needed to accomplish them exceeds the time available.

What is the best time for a meeting across time zones? ›

USA Rule of Thumb: 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time

But instead of memorizing who's in which time zone, we've found an easy solution that works for everyone most of the time: 2:00 p.m. EST. 2:00 p.m. on the East Coast—11:00 a.m. on the West Coast—is often the perfect time for a meeting.

How do I create a meeting for two or more time zones in Outlook? ›

Outlook Calendar - Displaying two time zones
  1. From Outlook, click File – Options.
  2. From the left task bar, click Calendar, under the Time Zones section, check the Show a second time zone box.
  3. Type in a label indicating the time zone and from the Time zone dropdown, select the appropriate time zone.
  4. Click OK.

What are the 3 major time zones? ›

Due to Fleming's work, the United States was broken into four major time zones. They are Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific.

What is time zone etiquette? ›

Be clear about timelines & deadlines

For example, just saying 9 AM tomorrow could be 9 AM in London or 9 AM in New York. Be precise, to avoid any confusion, when sending meeting invites or an email, include all the relevant time zones and be specific (e.g., 9 AM NY Time, 5 PM (13:00) London Time).

How do you mention time zones in an email? ›

If you need to indicate that a time is in a certain time zone, the simplest way to do it is to put the time zone abbreviation after the time: for Eastern Standard Time, write “4:30 p.m. EST.”

Videos

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3. Top tips for remote teams & different timezones
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4. World Time Pro App for Microsoft Teams | Coordinate meetings across time zones with a world clock.
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5. How to Schedule a Zoom or Video Call Across Multiple Time Zones Easily
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6. How to Schedule Group Work When Your Classmates Are In Different Time Zones
(Penn State World Campus)
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