How to organize meetings crossing time zones
Virtual teams are now part of any International company. A global office is today not only normal but also basically necessary and extremely positive. There are countless technological tools that make that communication fluent, easy and productive. But there is something that is inevitable: time schedules will be different no matter what tool we use, and that can become a problem and an uncomfortable inconvenient for part of the team, and sometimes even resent the outcome of the work.
That is why today we bring you some tips on how to organize those virtual meetings crossing time zones.
Besides the obvious time differences between the members invited to the meeting, there are many other factors to keep in mind to make sure that everyone will join and that also we don’t drain people with inconveniences. Things like actual work schedule (not everywhere office time is 9 to 5), lunch time, local holidays or actual week calendar (some places the weekdays go from Sunday to Thursday).
Put together your schedules
Use technological tools to put together everybody’s calendar. Many teams choose to work with Google Calendar to see the available days on everyone agendas. Also, the more detail you have about all the members of the team’s day, the better. That way you will see if they have to leave early for a personal matter or they already have a meeting scheduled. Privacy doesn’t have to be compromised, as the can just mark the days with their available timeframes.
Still, you will have to personally compare your team’s schedules with your client’s and vendor’s sometimes. The best option then is to propose different time slots and choose the one that works for the majority. Try to make sure that everyone will be at the office or a quiet place at the time of the meeting, since anyone joining from their car on the way to work will drastically impact the quality of the call.
Keep it short
This is actually a positive consequence of different time schedules. Because the common available time is smaller, make sure that any virtual meeting is scheduled to be no longer than an hour. Remember the shorter the meeting is supposed to be the easier will be to find a common spot in everyone’s calendar. That way also the whole team will focus to tackle down all the points in a more efficient and practical way.
Be considerate and find a balance
It is going to be impossible to always set the meeting at the perfect time for everyone, but make sure you keep all your attendees in mind. Ask them when does it work better for them, even if you end up choosing a different time because it works better for the majority, they will feel more included. Also make sure you find a balance and not always “annoy” the same group of people. That will drain them and that will also affect their onboarding and productivity.
Engage your attendees
Once a date and a time for the meeting is settled, don’t forget to send a reminder the day before and if you are sharing a calendar set an alarm. Also, share the agenda with everyone, a good way to make sure they will be interested to assist is to survey (when possible) any idea or topic that they will want to bring up or share with that specific group. As long as it makes sense and will be useful for everyone involved, try to add it to the list.
It is equally important to share any previous information that might be necessary to follow up during the meeting, any documents, data or info graphics that will be mentioned or shared.
And finally, make sure to share any passwords or information necessary to join the meeting, that way, there will be no good excuses to miss the meeting.