We all want the luxury of hiring elite teams from all over the world, but no Yin comes without a Yang. One downside of an international workforce is that you very often have to schedule a team meeting across time zones.
Keeping everyone happy might be on the unattainable side, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking for ways to improve! At Bitrix24, we’ve taken our learnings from the boom of remote work and international meetings to write up 10 steps to become a pro-meeting organizer.
So if you’re scratching your head, wondering what you can do to streamline the process, take a look below.
The best way to schedule meetings across time zones is by using time zone meeting planner tools, which allow you to:
Understand team members' availability
Find a suitable time for everyone
Gather pre- and post-meeting notes
Keep control of your meetings
Google Calendar automatically adjusts meeting times based on the time zones of the participants, ensuring that the meeting is displayed accurately for everyone, regardless of their location.
Outlook Calendar automatically shows meeting times according to each participant's time zone settings, displaying the correct local time for the meeting in each attendee's calendar.
When it’s your job to schedule a team meeting across time zones, the first step is to accept that you’re going to have to be savvy with a global clock. The level of work you have to do depends on how many time zones your organization covers.
If you’re between France and the UK, as long as you’re not intruding on a delicious déjeuner or making your British contingent wake up an hour early, you should be good. However, if you’ve got individuals scattered across the world, it’s a different matter. In the latter case, start by assessing which meetings are strictly necessary, as this will help you streamline your scheduling efforts and respect everyone's time.
There is one more complication: international daylight saving times. This can be a bit more daunting, as you’ll need to know which countries participate and when they change their clocks.
But don't worry — you don't have to be a master of all time zones. There are plenty of calendar scheduling tools out there that do all of the hard work for you. With so much going on in your day, you can’t spend time with your abacus working out who might be free. These meeting tools flag up all the different time zones you need to know about so you can send out your invitations in a second without feeling guilty.
Now you’ve figured out how time zones work, the second step is to identify your key participants. Carefully consider which team members need to be present to hit the meeting's objectives, and avoid inviting people for the sake of it. You’ll thank yourself for keeping it simple when you start scheduling.
Once you’ve pinpointed the crucial players, take a moment to introduce yourselves, especially if team members are new or unfamiliar with one another. This is an essential step for any remote team, and the same applies to collaborations with external suppliers.
Get each participant to share a brief introduction, including their name, role, location, and a fun fact about themselves. It’s cheesy, but it helps to create a positive and open atmosphere where everyone feels more comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas.
In the quest to schedule a team meeting across time zones, you need to make the most out of every minute. By investing time in building relationships, you'll pave the way for smoother communication and more effective collaboration.
With your team ready to gel together, the next important step when you schedule a team meeting across time zones is to master the tools at your disposal. With technology making the world smaller, it’s no surprise that there is a range of time zone meeting planner applications and platforms designed to make scheduling a breeze.
One powerful feature of these tools is the ability to automate your meetings. By setting up recurring meetings, whether they are weekly, monthly, or customized to your specific needs, you can eliminate the hassle of manually scheduling each session. No surprises for your team equals reliable meetings.
These tools will enable you to focus on the meeting's content and objectives, rather than spending your energy on logistical challenges. So embrace technology and make it work for you, as it’s the key to efficient collaboration in a globalized world.
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Step four involves determining your prime time. Finding the perfect meeting scheduler time zones that accommodate everyone may not be easy, but it's essential for ensuring maximum productivity and engagement from your team.
Consider running polls for your team members to state their preferences for recurring meetings. This inclusive approach ensures that everyone's voice is heard and can help you identify the best time slots for your international team.
In cases where it's impossible to find an ideal time for everyone, try rotating your meeting times to at least make it fair. This approach demonstrates your commitment to inclusivity and acknowledges the sacrifices made by team members who may need to attend meetings outside of their regular working hours.
By finding the ideal meeting scheduler time zones, you'll foster a positive mood for seamless collaboration across the globe.
When you schedule a team meeting across time zones, you can’t afford to mess people around, so you need to set the agenda and prioritize your meeting's objectives. Establishing a clear plan not only helps maintain focus during the meeting but also keeps everyone on the same page, regardless of their time zone.
To maximize the efficiency of your meeting, send out notes and materials in advance. Most calendar apps will allow you to attach files so you can avoid endless email back-and-forths. This allows participants to review the content and come prepared with their thoughts and contributions.
When drafting the agenda, prioritize the most critical topics and plan out sufficient time for discussion. When you feel things are drifting off toward unnecessary tangents, you can gently steer them back on track to avoid delays.
Your agenda also serves as a plan for your post-meeting notes that you can send out to anybody who couldn’t make it.
Closely linked to the previous step, managers always need to have an eye on the clock during meetings. Sure, it can be difficult to schedule a team meeting across time zones, but you still need to respect your team’s work-life balance. Even if it’s in the middle of the day, people have other tasks to get on with, so don’t be a blocker on their productivity.
Make an effort to avoid scheduling meetings during inconvenient hours, such as late nights or weekends, whenever possible. If a team member has to attend a meeting during these times, express your appreciation for their flexibility and willingness to adapt.
Additionally, aim to keep meetings concise and efficient. Start and end meetings on time, and adhere to the established agenda. This shows that you value your team's time and prevents meetings from spilling over into personal time.
The rewards are far-reaching. Not only does respecting time help you streamline your work, but it also helps to keep motivation high for everyone involved.
Whether you’re in-person or spread all over the globe, there is certain to be a lot of behind-the-scenes work. You can’t take a slap-dash approach here, which is why we’d recommend creating a communication hub to centralize meeting details. Establishing a central repository for all meeting-related information gives team members easy access to essential documents and resources.
So when you schedule a team meeting across time zones, save your pre- and post-meeting notes, as well as any relevant materials, in a cloud-based drive. This allows team members to access and contribute to the shared documents at their convenience, streamlining collaboration and promoting transparency.
If you record video meetings, you can save the recordings in the same storage space. This enables team members who may have missed the meeting or need to review the discussion to catch up on the content without burdening others with a recap.
In the eighth step of your mission to schedule a team meeting across time zones, it's crucial to delegate and collaborate effectively to maximize the value of your meeting time zone planner. Smart delegation and standardized procedures reduce the chaotic guesswork and significantly enhance the overall efficiency and productivity of your meetings.
Start by assigning tasks and responsibilities to team members based on their strengths and expertise. This way, you empower individuals to take ownership of their roles and ensure that everyone is contributing meaningfully to the meeting. You don’t only streamline the decision-making process but also allow for a more balanced distribution of work.
Foster a collaborative environment by encouraging open communication, active listening, and constructive feedback among team members. By creating a space where everyone feels valued and heard, you promote a sense of unity and teamwork that transcends geographical boundaries.
Despite your best efforts, there will always be unexpected surprises as you schedule a team meeting across time zones. That’s why it's vital to maintain flexibility and adapt to unexpected changes.
Avoid making last-minute changes whenever possible, as this can cause confusion and frustration among team members. However, if a change is unavoidable, communicate the updated details as soon as possible so everyone is informed and prepared to adapt.
When faced with unexpected changes, approach the situation with a solution-oriented mindset. Potential alternatives could include:
Rescheduling the meeting
Using a different platform
Delegating tasks to other team members
Encourage your team to be understanding and supportive of these adjustments, as this will facilitate a more resilient and adaptable work environment. A blend of positive thinking and a flexible attitude are two key elements of success to schedule a team meeting across time zones.
Our final step is a lesson as old as time. Learn from mistakes and build on successes. Spend time periodically, perhaps after every meeting in the early days, and once a month as you grow in confidence, to reflect on and refine your scheduling strategies. As your team evolves and circumstances change, you’ll always have to adapt your approach to ensure your meetings remain effective and efficient.
One way to gather valuable insights is through anonymous feedback forms. These can encourage shy or introverted team members to share their thoughts and suggestions without fear of judgment or repercussions. However, striving for an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable speaking their mind openly is important, fostering a more collaborative and inclusive environment.
Regularly review the feedback you receive and combine it with your own takeaways to identify areas of improvement. You might need to adjust meeting times, streamline agendas, or explore new tools to accommodate your team's needs better. With this kind of growth mindset, whenever you need to schedule a team meeting across time zones, you’ll come prepared with fresh insights and better practices.
Although meetings are essentially focused on humans, a lot of work needs to go on behind the scenes for them to run smoothly across time zones. We’ve already explored calendars, scheduling, and automation, but what if we told you there was more?
Bitrix24 offers a 360-degree business tool so you can prepare for your meetings, launch the video call, store all your notes and recordings in a drive, and so much more. With you and your team all on the same platform, you minimize the possibility of technical difficulties and instead manage a smooth-running ship.
So if you need to change the way you schedule your team meetings across time zones, look no further than Bitrix24.