Best methods to set up a call for mutiple time zones

This video is about best methods to set up calls for multiple time zones. The challenge is that except for very local projects contact with other time zones is an everyday experience. Global time zones change depending on the time of year so there’s no single point of reference and in fact in some countries there is no change.

Time zones must be respected for successful live contacts. So here are some examples of the complications that can arise when people are in different zones. Within a zone it’s fine.

China uses one time zone even though the country is several time zones wide so people get up at different times of the day depending where they live.

In India the standard time zone is aligned with a half hour in most other zones. This allows all of India to be on one time zone, which is convenient for India but it’s slightly different if you’re dealing globally.

Then Europe and North America both change from summer-time to winter-time, or daylight saving time, but they don’t change on the same date. So that means that the difference between them changes twice a year.

So one simple solution is to send an invitation using an ordinary meeting function through your email, but do it while in telephone contact. Then the person who gets it will see the time and if it’s not right, they could say “please resend that for an hour earlier” for example.

By doing that you can find a time. This is not very good when there are lots of participants or they are in different time zones and indeed it takes a lot of time because both people have to be online to do it.

A better approach is to use an application which presents two or three time options to the invitee and they can select the one they want and click on it. Because these systems check the calendar of the sender, then if a time is selected, it’s a free time. So you cut out altogether the telephone so there’s far less effort. But as well as that, you don’t need to be on line at the same time. However a lot of these systems work for single meetings: one person with one.

Another alternative is to use an application which allows people to view the time of the meeting but when they look at it, their computer will convert it into local time and handle all the time zone issues.

We use this at Scatterwork to schedule our global workshops. The initiator can send a time; other people can look at that time in their own computers. So for example, here you see that the time of the meeting was set for 3 p.m. But on the computer where I viewed, it there was an hour difference between universal time and my time, so it shows me my time as well. Here it just says “by the way, there are eleven days before this meeting”.

Now, if other people get the same link, when they look at it, this line here about your time will be different depending on where they are. So that’s a very convenient thing when the central point has to choose a time and say “this is the time, please check what it is in your time zone”.

A more reliable approach is to use a process to set up meeting times. This involves adding steps in. For example a manager may wish to check their calendar for availability.

To control processes like that needs something more complex and we use for example Kissflow but there are other products out there and they manage the sequence of actions in the cloud and across time zones. So that if for example you say “send out the time for a meeting” and then the next action is to check it, then there is a delay until everybody has said “I’ve checked it”. So that’s more complex but more reliable approach.

This is what one of those workflows might look like. It has several steps in it and it takes some time to set up, but if you have big meetings or important meetings, it might be worth doing this.

So the summary is that simple methods are not really adequate in the global environment. Informal methods take time they take a lot of effort and they are likely to result in mistakes. And the third option is to live with the complexity of multiple time zones and used better tools and methods.

So if you are interested in any of these issues, please do contact us at and we’d be happy to talk to you. Thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.


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