Key takeaways in this post:

  • Consider the recipient’s time zone and schedule when setting up meetings or sending emails to ensure courteous communication.
  • Utilize scheduling tools, time zone converters and digital calendars to easily coordinate across different time zones.
  • Clearly state time zones when proposing meeting times and strive to offer overlapping hours for all participants to facilitate effective collaboration.

Time zones can be tricky. But whether you love them or hate them, they impact how we do business. At WG Content, we work with clients and colleagues all across the U.S. and sometimes around the globe. Keeping time zones straight when setting up meetings or conference calls or sending or scheduling emails becomes essential to the job. Here are some tips for communicating with respect no matter where you are.

Time zones are relatively new in human history. They weren’t necessary until the late 1800s when railroads needed uniform schedules for departures and arrivals. Before then, every city in the country had its own time zone based on the sun’s path in their location. Can you imagine?
In 1883, the U.S. went from 100 time zones to the four we use today in the lower 48 states. But even with only four time zones, communicating effectively with clients and co-workers across time zones requires a bit of preparation. Let’s dig in.

Time zones come into play more often than you think. Some common instances where time zones matter to marketers:

  • Scheduling interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs)
  • Scheduling marketing emails
  • Scheduling conference calls with team members across the country

Here are some general etiquette tips to keep in mind.

Be respectful  

It’s always best to put your recipient first. Be respectful of their schedule and the time zone where they live. Set fair meeting times – don’t expect anyone to attend a 5 a.m. or a 7 p.m. meeting just because it falls within your working hours.

Also, try to avoid sending emails or making calls outside the recipient’s standard working hours — unless it’s an emergency. One handy tip: if you are working late, schedule that email to arrive at the beginning of your recipient’s workday.

Be inclusive

Be aware of the time differences for participants on a conference call or online meeting. Try to suggest times that overlap everyone’s regular business hours. That’s not always possible, but courtesy goes a long way.

Be clear  

When suggesting a meeting time, specify which time zone you mean. When offering availability for a meeting, it’s best practice to reference the time zones for all the participants, including your own, starting with the recipient’s time.
For example, “I am available for a call on Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. MT/1 to 4 p.m. ET.”
Determining a date and time can take a few rounds before you send a calendar invite. Thankfully, digital calendars send out invitations in the recipient’s time zone with no math involved.

Be sure  

After a long day at your desk, figuring out what time it is across the country or the world may seem daunting. Use a time zone converter or download an app to be sure you’re calculating everyone’s local time correctly.

One of the most common ways time zones impact us at WG Content is when we schedule SME interviews. Here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way:

  • Plan ahead: SMEs are usually busy and in high demand. Don’t wait until the last minute to get time on their calendars.
  • Use a scheduling tool: Offer to let the SME schedule the best time for them on your calendar. It can take the back and forth out of the equation. Online scheduling tools make the process seamless.
  • Be flexible: We always recommend respecting other people’s time outside typical working hours. But if the only time that works for the doctor you’ve been trying to meet with for the last month is after 6 p.m., do your best to make it happen. WG Content writers are known for their flexibility and are often willing to work early or late, especially if it means catching up with a busy SME for an interview.

We often get asked: “What’s the best time to send an email?” That answer depends on many factors, including your audience’s time zone.

According to CoSchedule, you should choose the time zone where most of your audience lives.

Most email service providers allow you to schedule emails based on time zones. So you can reach each recipient at the same time within their own time zone. Pretty handy!

One of the best parts about being a coast-to-coast team is the level of support we can give our agency partners, clients and team members in any time zone!

If you’re looking for a team to help you get big projects across the finish line or support clients in different time zones, we’re here to help. And if you’re a freelancer who wants to make your schedule work for you, check out our open roles.

Editor’s note: This blog was updated on May 20, 2024. It was originally published in April 2019.

Follow-up questions for dealing with times zones when communicating

Respecting work-life balance is more important than ever. Be sensitive to others’ availability and mindful of designated working hours. While talking about boundaries can be difficult, establishing what’s acceptable and what isn’t acceptable in terms of meeting times can make scheduling meetings and interviews easier for everyone involved.

Work together with your team to decide how to best use the hours that overlap in a work day. Scheduling preset meetings will keep the team connected and communication flowing without scrambling to set a time that works for everyone. If done well, having teams across time zones can be a productivity windfall, as projects keep moving even while some members are in off-hours.

The best time to send an email depends on your audience’s time zone. There are a lot of differing opinions and data out there. The best time to send an email, according to HubSpot, is between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. ET on Tuesdays. CoSchedule rounded up a few different studies and came to the conclusion that the best time to send an email is 10:00 a.m. The best thing you can do is test different times and track what works for your unique audience. And remember, most email service platforms allow you to schedule in your recipient’s time zone, taking the guess work out.

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