Global Biz 101: Win the Time Zone Shuffle

biz time zones win

As professional event planners, we understand the value of time; but what happens when your work requires you to collaborate with someone on the other side of the country, or even the globe? A few simple best practices can help make this an easy transition for many event professionals.

Make A Note, Then Note It Again

Everyone gets comfortable operating in their particular time zone. But sending an email to schedule a conference call, wherein you note that it will take place at 9:00 a.m. Pacific, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, and 4:00 p.m. GMT, takes the onus of converting off of your colleagues and partners. In addition to making that note in your emails, including the same note in your calendar request can help streamline the scheduling process, especially if different parties are using different calendar systems (Outlook, iCal, Google, etc.). Offering this conversion at the outset provides your colleagues with peace of mind and implies that you are a conscientious partner who is accustomed to operating in this manner.

We’re Not All Early Birds or Night Owls

Do you know what time it is? You might be in New York or Washington, D.C., preparing to make some calls at 12:00 p.m. before heading off to lunch. At that point, the local time in Amsterdam in 6:00 p.m., in Dubai it’s 9:00 p.m., and in Bangkok it’s midnight! Always practice due diligence when reaching across time zones. Working hours can vary from country to country; employees in Great Britain and U.A.E. work some of the longest hours per week outside the U.S., so while it may be easier to reach contacts there beyond “standard” working hours, it’s not always the most courteous step, especially with new relationships.

Remember Your Manners

If you make a request at 2:00 p.m. local time from Los Angeles or San Diego to a Midwest or East Coast vendor, and you’re asking for a same day answer, your vendor is receiving that request at 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. At the very least, acknowledge that it’s late in the day for this contact, and express your appreciation for their timely attention and support. By recognizing the disparity between your send time and their time received, and by being flexible regarding turnaround for answers, you’ll build stronger partnerships where your contacts are more willing to put in the extra time when it is absolutely necessary.

Have a Fallback for Your Fallback

How many times have you been on a conference call and had issues with the connection? It’s always in your best interest to set up fail-safes in case of issues with apps or Wi-Fi. In the case of international calling, both Skype and WhatsApp are viable solutions for a conference call beyond the usual dial-in lines. Planning out a fallback option and sending that information to all of the participants with your meeting request means that you’ll have a plan in place in case of emergencies, but also impresses upon your colleagues and your client that you’re adept enough to troubleshoot before an issue even arises.

Lynda Baum is the executive vice president of CSI International, an industry leader in international travel solutions.

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