How to schedule meetings across time zones
Scheduling meetings across time zones is easy, right? Actually, no it’s not.
Mistakes and misunderstandings in time zone meeting planning is one of the most common reasons for missed customer meetings. Because businesses are working with an increasingly remote customer base every year, errors scheduling calls and meetings across time zones are also more common.
There are two methods to figure out how to best schedule meetings across multiple time zones. The first method is to read these tips to do it yourself:
Tips for working out meeting times:
Find out when your team members have working hours that overlap in all of the different time zones required to schedule a meeting. This will require up-front communication since you need to know where everyone is located and what hours they typically work.
The internet is your friend when it comes to calculating times in different parts of the world. World Time Buddy is a straightforward, no-frills, meeting planner that will compare multiple time zones and highlight the best times for global teams to meet. Alternatively, just Google “Time in Sydney” if you need to know the time in Sydney, Australia, right now.
When scheduling meetings in different time zones, sometimes people just won’t be able to make it. Recording a meeting let’s people catch up on what they may have missed.
If your team spans many time zones with little crossover or limited overlap hours, it’s helpful to remain flexible. When scheduling a meeting, consider selecting multiple meeting times.
Rather than coordinating multiple meeting times, asynchronous communication allows you to pose recommendations, write notes, and leave suggestions on the contract for your client to view at their discretion. Then, they can accept or deny changes and make tweaks at their own convenience during their own working hours.
Yes, this is the best answer, and we’ll come to that in a moment!
But wait…. Don’t Outlook and Google Calendars fix this problem?
Sadly, not quite. Take Outlook, for example. If you are in the New York time zone and arrange a call with an important customer in London for 3:00pm on March 21, Outlook will show the meeting as 11:00 am in your calendar. That’s all good. But what if you have to postpone the meeting until the following week? Outlook will still show the meeting at 11:00 am in your calendar, however you’ve got the wrong time and will miss the meeting. This is because Daylight Saving Time (dst) has come into effect in the UK time zone.
How Outlook uses time zones
Outlook only uses the time zone you choose to work out the time in your local time zone. It converts the time from the meeting time zone to UTC, stores the appointment time in UTC, displays it in your local time zone. When you open the appointment it converts it back into the meeting time zone and displays this in the appointment screen. Confused?
It can be confusing, because it’s actually quite complex. There are three time zones in play (UTC time, local time and the meeting/customer time zones).
How time zones cause problems
Outlook, as a personal calendar system, so it is most concerned about your local time. It is your local time zone that drives the appointment time, not the customer’s time zone. As a result, if there are any changes in your customer’s time zone, offset or daylight saving time, you or your customer will miss the meeting.
The best method for successful multi time zone meeting planning
There are lots of meeting planners, time zone converters, time zone maps and other tools available to help you get the time right. These use daylight saving time rules and time zone offsets to work out the local time for each time zone. There are also lots of articles explaining how you can work this out yourself. But do you want to do this? Do you even want to use one system to arrange meeting times and another to make the meeting? Do you want to become an expert in time zones and daylight saving time rules?
It’s 2023, shouldn’t this be easy? Why can’t scheduling software just organize everything for you? The answer is it can, and Timewatch does.
How Timewatch makes multi time zone meetings easy.
Timewatch takes care of all scheduling issues for you. Using Timewatch scheduling software all you need to do is schedule a meeting with your customer at the time you want it to take place in the timezone you want it to take place in (usually your customer’s), and we take care of everything for you.
We know all the rules for all time zones and daylight savings changes for all countries around the world so you don’t have to. We apply all of these rules to keep everyone’s meetings in sync so you never miss a meeting – ever.
Want to know more? Click here to learn how Timewatch can help your employees schedule meetings anywhere in the world quickly and simply.
So who is Timewatch?
Timewatch develop apps that expand the functionality of Microsoft Outlook. We provide resource scheduling, time tracking and analytics / reporting for Outlook. We work closely with our customers to overcome the limits they come up against in Outlook so that they can continue to use Outlook as a core productivity tool.
Want to Learn More?
We welcome your questions as whatever you are seeking to achieve with time zone related appointments, we probably already have the facilities available to solve them
If you have any questions or want to see the system in operation, contact us via chat, or book a free consultancy call with a product specialists.
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An excellent resource for finding the time in any time zone, and an excellent meeting planner – just set the time zones you want, click submit and find the best time. Try choosing United Kingdom (UTC time), New York (Eastern Standard Time) and Hong Kong. You’ll see very quickly that the green, yellow and red color coding of the day helps you find the best time very quickly with no mental time arithmetic needed!
Daylight saving time (DST), also known as summer time, is the practice of advancing clocks during part of the year, typically by one hour around spring and summer, so that daylight ends at a later time of the day. As of 2023, DST is observed in most of Europe, most of North America and parts of Asia around the Northern Hemisphere summer, and in parts of South America and Oceania around the Southern Hemisphere summer.
Outlook (and Google) appointments are all in your local time and have the dates, start and end times of appointments as well as their subject. All of this information can be used in for time tracking, so why not use it and save employees time? With our Outlook time tracking add-on, employees’ calendar can be turned into timesheets. It saves employees hours each week and increases the accuracy of timesheet.
Does Outlook have any analytics? No, none. You can’t see employee calendars side by side, time is only shown in local times, there is no time zone information or utc offset, and you can only see a couple of days, and even then there is not enough detail to be useful.
Timewatch’s multi-employee add-on calendar for Outlook solves this. You can see as many people as you want over as many days as you want (within reason) and sort, search and filter by availability or capacity as well as access powerful analytical and reporting tools. It turns Outlook into a resource scheduling and company resource planning tool.