The growing popularity of rail transit helped popularize time zones, though not without some resistance. Across 19th century England, it was common to see two clocks side-by-side in the towns that refused to adopt railway time, except as it pertained to the trains. It seems that “railway time,” a precursor to modern time zones, has bedeviled humankind for centuries now.
Remote work hasn’t made time zones any trickier. But it has made them far more important when setting meeting times, as we collaborate with clients and colleagues in various parts of the world more often than ever before. If meeting with people in different time zones keeps tripping you up, you could hope remote work becomes as rare as rail travel over long distances is today. But since that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, allow us to recommend some tools that can help take the guesswork and manual labor out of scheduling across time zones.
But before we get to that, let’s talk about what makes time zones so tricky in the first place.
The difficulties of the different time zone
The world is divided into 24 time zones, like the number of hours in a day. Simple enough, right? Not quite. When you schedule a meeting across time zones you need to know UTC, DST, GMT, and CST. Is the other person on the conference call in a place that recognizes daylight saving time? The easiest way to
schedule meetings in different time zones is to use technology to do the work for you. It’s less work, and there’s less room for embarrassing error.
How a meeting planner can help
There are lots of categories of tools that can help you schedule meetings with people in different time zones. A time zone meeting planner app is a time zone converter. Just input when you’d like to meet in your time, specify where you live, and then will tell you what the local time and date that will be in their time zone.
A world clock will give you the current local time in various cities.
Many of these tools are browser-based. But Outlook, Google Calendar, and iOS have built-in time zone converters as well.
Clocks and time tools to try
As mentioned, there are lots of great free time zone meeting planner apps/time zone calculators available online. Below we’ve selected seven great free options along with brief descriptions. Listed below in alphabetical order.
Clockwise is a time orchestration platform that helps you spend less time manually managing your calendar. When you schedule a meeting with a colleague who also uses Clockwise, Clockwise will suggest times that work for both of you based on your time zones, Focus Time, and other meeting preferences.
This tool is great if you’re just trying to figure out what times you can schedule that are in your working hours and also the working hours of the people in different time zones. Once you put in all the locations of everyone who’s meeting it shows you the green “office compatible meeting times” and uses red for the times outside most people’s working hours.
3. The Time Now
Super easy to use, this tool allows you to search for cities and has a very comprehensive list. The only downside is that it displays the times in military time. So if you don’t immediately know what time 1900 is, this might not be the one for you.
Besides Clockwise, this is our favorite. It’s got a pleasant and very intuitive user interface.
This app’s UI is a bit strange, but otherwise it works fine.
When you’re scheduling Zoom calls on your phone, a browser experience might not be ideal. Luckily, there are apps for iOS and Android for this purpose
World Time Widget is a free iOS app that adds a world clock to your Notification Center, so you can quickly and easily see the correct time and date anywhere in the world.
Around the World - Meeting Planner is a free Android app that helps you find the best times to meet across timezones. See what time it is right now in an unlimited number of other cities on your dashboard.
Next time you have to deal with timezones when scheduling meetings with distant colleagues, thank the railway companies. Luckily, there are tons of great free apps to make the process less manual and error-prone. Check out some of these apps, and happy scheduling!