“Your Place or Mine?” Collaborating Across Multiple Time Zones

It was on this day in 1883 that the American and Canadian railroads ended confusion surrounding thousands of local times by implementing four continental time zones. This saw a dramatic change in previous practices, which usually included railroad timetables in all major cities listing dozens of different arrival and departure times for the same train. Each time linked to a different local time zone, based on their “high noon,” or point when the sun was highest in the sky. This made travel across the country a nightmare.

With the advent of the digital world, the more simplified approach to four continental time zones has its own unique challenges. Synchronizing meetings, calls, and other daily activities across several global locations can create confusion and result in missed meetings, productivity, and irritation. However, there are some ways to alleviate this burden, and conform to our current system:

  1. Create a consistent schedule- If meeting times are routine, remote coworkers can adopt their schedule to a routine so they don’t miss important gatherings. Make sure to allot enough time for any technological issues that may occur.
  2. Include the time zone in all meeting requests- Even if the company you are communicating with is based in your time zone, not all of their employees may be based there. It’s easy to forget to specify which time zone you’re referring to. It may be useful to refer to the schedule in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) if meeting with the same group.
  3. Be considerate- Just because you like to start a meeting at 4:30 PM doesn’t mean it’s the best time for the whole team.  Schedule these meetings at a time that can work from one coast to the other, to avoid any unnecessary work hours.

How do you handle your meetings when dealing with counterparts in other time zones?

 

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