In some companies, everyone works in the same building, arrives and leaves around the same time each day, and meetings are held with all members in one room.

If your company has multiple offices or works with remote workers, most likely you do things a bit differently.

Hours are flexible, work locations are far and wide, and meetings need to be virtual. In fact, a single meeting might consist of employees from three or four countries – all with different time zones and schedules.

How the heck do you coordinate something like that? Remote and global employees know they need to be flexible, but still, managers struggle to get team members on the same schedule.

Read on to learn how to effectively organize meetings across a distributed global team.


How to Book Meetings Across Different Time Zones

1. Check when (and if) your teammates' work schedules overlap.

Scheduling with remote workers: Part of working remotely is the freedom to set your own schedule. As a manager, you might be hesitant to demand certain working hours, as to not intrude on that freedom.

Ask employees to send four hours they work the same each day. This respects their schedule and flexibility and allows you to see when their ideal times for collaboration are. Compare hours and time zones to see if you can find one hour in common each week.

Scheduling across multiple offices: What if your offices are in different time zones? What if one team member lives in Sydney, another lives in Dublin, and another lives in New York City? Finding a common time to meet can seem impossible.

Our suggestion is to rotate the meeting time so everyone has equal opportunity for the most and least convenient times to meet. Using Dublin, Sydney, and New York City as an example again, let's take a look at the times that could potentially work for a team meeting. Suggested times are in yellow.

 

Meeting Time Zones Cheat Sheet

DUBLIN, IRELAND

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

NEW YORK CITY, USA

12:00 AM

10:00 AM

7:00 PM

1:00 AM

11:00 AM

8:00 PM

2:00 AM

12:00 PM

9:00 PM

3:00 AM

1:00 PM

10:00 PM

4:00 AM

2:00 PM

11:00 PM

5:00 AM

3:00 PM

12:00 AM

6:00 AM

4:00 PM

1:00 AM

7:00 AM

5:00 PM

2:00 AM

8:00 AM

6:00 PM

3:00 AM

9:00 AM

7:00 PM

4:00 AM

10:00 AM

8:00 PM

5:00 AM

11:00 AM

9:00 PM

6:00 AM

12:00 PM

10:00 PM

7:00 AM

1:00 PM

11:00 PM

8:00 AM

2:00 PM

12:00 AM

9:00 AM

3:00 PM

1:00 AM

10:00 AM

4:00 PM

2:00 AM

11:00 AM

5:00 PM

3:00 AM

12:00 PM

6:00 PM

4:00 AM

1:00 PM

7:00 PM

5:00 AM

2:00 PM

8:00 PM

6:00 AM

3:00 PM

9:00 PM

7:00 AM

4:00 PM

10:00 PM

8:00 AM

5:00 PM

11:00 PM

9:00 AM

6:00 PM

(Are you coordinating across different timezones? Use this free Time Zone Converter to see what might work.)

 

2. Rotate recurring meeting times.

As you can see, booking a meeting across multiple time zones is going to require some flexibility, as every option consists of two locations meeting at a less-than-opportune time. A suggestion? Rotate the meeting time each week to make things more fair. That way, the team member in Dublin doesn't have a late meeting every week, and the team member in New York City doesn't have an early meeting every week.


3. Record the meeting.

Sometimes, the time zones don't align, and everyone can't attend the meeting you'd like to. If you have a widely-distributed 15-person team and everyone can attend except three people because the meeting is at 2 a.m. for them, take it as a victory and record the meeting to send to those who couldn't attend. This is a good rule of thumb for all large team meetings, as time zones and vacation time will invariably lead to at least a few absences.


4. Set an agenda and ask for questions in advance.

Make sure that those who can't attend the meeting have the opportunity to ask questions ahead of time. When you send out your meeting agenda (at least one business day prior to the meeting), ask for those people to send their questions and talking points in advance, and read them out at the top of the meeting. (For help creating your agenda, use our free meeting agenda templates.)


5. Take the follow-up conversation to Slack.

Messaging apps, such as Slack, allow team members to chat and have discussions easily. Take the post-meeting discussion to Slack afterward, so employees who are unable to attend (or need to immediately go to bed) can look back later and catch up. 

Looking for more tips for managing distributed teams and remote employees? Download our leadership guide about how to manage remote employees.

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