You might be under the impression that the world is small after you run into someone you know on the other side of it.
When you’re trying to schedule meetings across different time zones, however, it immediately starts to seem insanely big.
Believe it or not, the necessity to schedule such meetings occurs more often than you think. In fact: due to the rise of remote work, international collaboration and outsourcing, among others, scheduling meetings across time zones gets increasingly popular.
And rightly so. Being flexible in terms of location allows your business to access a wider pool of talents, and also clients. The only issue here is to manage virtual meetings properly, which proves to be difficult for many companies out there.
1. Hold regular meetings.
Staying in touch is crucial, especially for distributed teams.
It’s true that exchanging ideas and talking about recent developments is much easier face-to-face, but it doesn’t mean that remote workers should not be included in the conversations.
Having daily (or at least weekly) meetings is a good practice that allows everyone to be up-to-date and on the same page.
In short: Regular meetings are necessary, no matter how often they are held.
2. Make sure everyone is clear about their working hours.
Being clear about your working hours can be extremely helpful when scheduling meetings across time zones.
Start with deciding which hours per day you want (or have) to be available to your team, clients, business partners, and essentially whomever you work with.
At the same time, you should also specify when you won’t be able to answer any calls and messages.
After all, you can’t be online all the time!
3. Check when exactly the working hours overlap.
Once you have a clear picture of everyone’s availability within different time zones, it should be easier to find the time that would suit the whole team.
Basically, all you have to do it compare hours and time zones to see if you can find at least one hour in common.
This might take a while - fortunately, there are a few tools that can help you find suitable hours almost immediately (take Time Zone Converter, as an example).
4. Change your meeting schedule every once in a while.
As you can see, finding a suitable time across different time zones can be challenging, depending on where your team members are exactly.
It’s a good practice to rotate the meeting time every now and then so that it’s fair to everyone.
For example, if you rotate the schedule every week, you will give every team member an opportunity to have one early-morning, one evening, and one midday meeting, instead of keeping the hour the same through the whole time.
5. Stick to a schedule.
It doesn’t matter if you’re changing the time of the meeting every once in a while or keep it the same at all times - you should always stick to the agreed schedule.
This will help you ensure that all meetings are consistent and timely.
Also, make sure that they are long enough to discuss all the important matters (or even make a screencast), but also relatively short so that your team doesn’t have to waste time on being unproductive.
6. Always set an agenda.
Apart from conducting the meetings as scheduled, you should also make sure they are structured properly.
The best meetings always have an agenda, which helps everyone know what to expect.
Leave some time for small talk, but don’t forget to specify key talking points, as well as any relevant documents, files, or research that should be done beforehand.
This will let you keep all the meetings short and sweet.
Actually, if you need more help on running effective meetings, here your ultimate guide.
7. Record the important meetings.
Sometimes you might find it difficult to have the time zones aligned.
While you can still use communication tools to make sure everyone stays well-informed, some meetings are far too important to be skipped.
In such cases, you might want to record them and send the recording to those who couldn't attend.
Keep in mind that the absentees might still want to participate, one way or another - if they have any questions or concerns that should be discussed, ask them to send their contribution via email before the meeting takes place.
8. Take the follow-up conversation elsewhere.
There are two occasions on which it makes perfect sense to switch to a messaging tool rather than continue video chatting with your team.
First of all, some discussions might concern only a few people, which means that it’s not necessary to involve everyone in the conversation.
Also, if some of your team members were not able to attend, it will be easier for them to catch up once they can read everything in their own time.
Yet again, it’s all about keeping the meetings productive to everyone involved.
Schedule your meetings seamlessly across time zones
It doesn’t matter if you schedule meetings with your team members or your clients - the points above can help you do it properly.
Still, just like you need a few common guidelines and the right set of communication tools to make any “international” cooperation thrive, you could also use dedicated software to schedule your meetings across time zones.
With Harmonizely, for example, you can easily schedule appointments without exchanging any emails - and the time zones will automatically be detected so that the date and time are always expected the same. See it for yourself!
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