International Conferencing Activities

Spend some time examining a time zone map to determine a few optimal times for your global conference calls. Depending on how to spread out your team is, you may have to make a few compromises.

Setting Ground Rules for Timing International Conferencing Activities

International Conferencing Activities and video conferencing are outstanding communications methods for global teams. They allow everyone, regardless of location, to meet virtually. If your team members are located in the same time zone, or in relatively close time zones, impromptu and scheduled conference calls are as easy as domestic ones. However, the further apart they are, the more complicated it gets. Few people are willing to set their alarm clocks for 3:00 am in order to attend a work-related conference call. With that in mind, it’s helpful to set some ground rules. Below are a few tips to get started.

Determine Your Business’s Master Working Hours

This is helpful in general for businesses with satellite offices around the world. All branches should be aware of your main office’s working hours. If your main office is in Los Angeles, California, consider making Pacific time your official “home office” time. This doesn’t mean all branch offices will need to match their working hours to your home office time, but they should be aware of it.

For example, if your Tokyo office wants to hold an ad hoc global conference call at the end of day on a Monday at 4:00pm local time, that would actually be 11:00pm on a Sunday night home office time. A better choice would be to schedule the global conference call for Tuesday at 8:00am Tokyo time which would be 3:00pm Monday in Los Angeles.

Determine the Best Times for Most Conference Calls

Spend some time examining a time zone map to determine a few optimal times for your global conference calls. Depending on how spread out your team is, you may have to make a few compromises. Let’s use Los Angeles, Tokyo, and London as an example. If you plan on holding a global conference call during your home office hours of 9:00am to 5:00pm Pacific time, it will be the middle of the night in Tokyo and evening to midnight in London.

Some participants will need to join the call outside of their own local office hours. The most optimal time in this example would be 1:00 or 2:00pm Pacific time. Participants in Tokyo would need to join at 6:00 or 7:00am local time while those in London would join at 9:00 or 10:00pm local time. Though not ideal for your participants, it’s preferable to an international conference call during their normal sleeping hours.

Thus, for all-hands-on conference calls, you might establish 1:00 pm home office time as the ideal time for this type of conference call. For global conference calls between the home office and Tokyo, you might determine that 4:00 pm home office time is best. For international conference calls between LA and London, 8:30am Pacific time might be the best compromise.

Whatever you determine to be the optimal times for each office, create a master chart and share it with your team.

Consider the Proportion of Attendees in Each Time Zone

Finally, not all calls will require everyone’s attendance. If you’re the only person in Los Angeles who will be on a given conference call and everyone else is overseas, it might make more sense to schedule the call during your participants’ office hours. This may mean you’ll have to host an international conference call late at night or early in the morning, but you’ll be the only one who’s inconvenienced.

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