Working Across Time Zones

Working Across Time Zones

ActiveCampaign has swiftly become a global company. Not only do we have customers in over 161 countries, but we also have employees working in 3 offices and many countries.

By a rough count, we have colleagues working in 9 different time zones (and we must have customers in all of the time zones!). Here are some tips for finding the best times to meet and working across time zones.

How to choose meeting times across time zones

This table can help you find the best times to meet with colleagues in different time zones:

i03iboisa meetingtimesThis table assumes that people in each region are comfortable working some amount of time within the time frame of 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Rules for setting meeting times:

  • Flexibility: Unfortunately, there’s no overcoming the shape of the globe. If we need to conduct global business, someone might have to wake up early or go to bed late. It’s unavoidableRules for setting meeting times:
  • Make up time: if you need to meet with a colleague during your early morning or late night, block off an hour elsewhere in the week! (I start early to collaborate with colleagues in Dublin, so I make it up by ending the day early or taking some time in the middle of the day to exercise.)
  • Empathy: If you can’t find a good time to get everyone involved, schedule well in advance (3-5 days if possible). Your colleagues may need to rearrange their personal life, childcare, appointments, etc. to accommodate the meeting time. Give them some time to rearrange things. (Perhaps Sydney-siders can relate best, as Australia is practically perfectly on the other side of the early from Chicago.)

Most importantly: Be selective about meetings across time zones. Do you really, absolutely, 100% need everyone in the same meeting? Or could this message be communicated asynchronously (via Zoom or, my favorite, Loom)? Is this a meeting for the entire team, or just for a select few leaders?

Here’s why:

  • A meeting scheduled for a colleague’s 7:00 PM local time might mean not helping their spouse with children’s bedtime
  • A meeting scheduled for a colleague’s 7:00 AM local time could mean interrupting a daily routine key to their health and wellness

Tips for working with colleagues across time zones

Here are 6 tips for working across time zones:

1. Use World Time Buddy, especially for scheduling across more than two time zones. It makes sure that you’re emailing and talking about the right times because you can copy your selection to paste into email. Note: Make sure to choose the right date from the date picker; timezones and time differences change at different times around the world.

gq5cha2vf worldtimebuddyYellow are 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM work hours

2. Use Slack “Info and Details” to see your colleagues’ local time. This is helpful even with colleagues you normally communicate with. With multiple offices, a colleague may be traveling outside of their home office.

3. Turn on a World Clock for Google Calendar and display the time zones of colleagues you work with. As you drag to create a new calendar item, it will show the time in each region.

The moon icon indicates that it’s nighttime in that region

4. Displaying multiple time zones on one calendar is a nice feature of Google Calendar, especially if your team is broken among two timezones and you frequently need to schedule for both sides. I display times in Ireland and Chicago since my team is split between the Dublin and Chicago offices.

amwvz8df4 timezonedisplay

5. Reference company holidays: A normal day in your region, state, or country may be a holiday elsewhere! Did you know that Easter Monday is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland? Did you that, in Australia, April 25 is devoted to an interesting betting game, and that therefore no one is working? (April 25 is also the commemoration of ANZAC Day.)

6. Specify timezone when emailing or Slacking. “Are you available to meet at noon?” isn’t enough — even when you’re communicating between two people in the same state of Indiana! Get into the habit of asking, “Are you available at 9:00 AM CDT?” At least this gets your colleague to convert to their time. Even better is to ask, “Are you available at 9:00 AM CDT/10:00 AM EDT?”

And remember: It may be 5 o’clock somewhere, but please always observe local time for scheduling your happy hours.

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