Many of us have heard the story of someone’s aunt who would claim “It’s noon somewhere” to excuse herself for having an adult beverage a bit earlier in the day than noon, local time.
This phrase has a much different meaning when you are working in Global Screening. I have used it to describe my job when I’ve had customers and suppliers all around the world and my work day never seemed to end. In this post, we will correlate the phrase with the challenges of working in different time zones.
When setting appointments with people in different time zones, make it clear whose time zone the suggested appointment is in. Saying “I’ll call you at 7.” is very unclear. Whose 7? Yours or theirs? Indicating 7 IST may not be clear to everyone either. If you are in Bulgaria (EET) or Japan (JST) or the US East Coast (EST) then IST may not be known to you. I will usually ask the other person to suggest times in their time zone (and I will do the converting), specify a time and say “Atlanta time”, or put together a list showing Atlanta time and the other person’s time. It’s a little more work for me but it helps me to show respect for the other party.
Not Everyone Wants to Work Late or Get Up Before the Rooster
Map out the times of phone calls before suggesting appointment times. Suggesting a 1 PM Atlanta (EST) phone call with a client in Paris will make that a 7 PM call for your customer. Some people, especially if they are approaching your company to sell you services, will agree to just about any time. Be aware that those calls may be late at night or before dawn for them. When you have a working relationship with a company many time zones away, you may decide to switch off who takes the late and who takes the early calls. Even when it’s a supplier to me, I will volunteer to take the calls during off hours as a courtesy to them.
To map out appointment times around the world, there are several free programs on the internet. I use www.timeanddate.com, which allows me to enter multiple cities to find a time that is reasonable for as many participants as possible. If you are in the United States, make sure you enter the date of your prospective appointment if it is around the U.S. time changes.
Be Sensitive to Local Working Days and Hours
Not all countries have standard working days of Monday through Friday.
Several years ago I traveled to Dubai to work with a supplier. Before my flight home, late Friday, I planned to take the Metro to the Souk to buy a gift for my husband. I knew the standard working days in UAE were Sunday through Thursday and I was told some of the shops would be open on Friday. So, I trudged to the Metro only to find it was closed for Friday holidays until 2 PM. The day ended well anyway, after I walked the two miles to the Souk in the “warm” air. I did indeed find an open shop staffed by two charming brothers, and was able to take the air conditioned Metro back in time for my flight home.
When setting up calls and meetings especially with countries whose culture’s are outside of your country’s culture, make sure you understand the working days and hours. This will also impact the expectations of both parties with respect to turnaround time for work and answers. Sending someone in Dubai a to-do list on a Thursday afternoon in America with the deadline of noon Friday (whose noon?) can create issues.
Toll-Free for Whom?
There is one last point to make when it comes to phone appointments. Be careful about sending out invites with toll-free numbers. Few toll-free numbers are available worldwide. The typical numbers in America may work in Canada also but will rarely work beyond North America. When setting up calls, be sure to provide a local (toll) number for calls and/or a call line that has toll-free numbers for the countries of your other participants.
| Kerstin Bagus – Director, Global Initiatives
Kerstin Bagus supports ClearStar’s Global Screening Program as its Director of Global Initiatives. She has more than 30 years of background screening industry experience, working for a variety of firms, large and small. Kerstin is one of the few individuals in the industry who is privacy-certified through the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) for Canada, the EU, and the U.S.
Kerstin is a passionate participant in the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and is a current member of the Board, in addition to participating on several committees. She also participates on IFDAT’s Legal Committee, with a primary focus on global data privacy.
At ClearStar, we are committed to your success. An important part of your employment screening program involves compliance with various laws and regulations, which is why we are providing information regarding screening requirements in certain countries, region, etc. While we are happy to provide you with this information, it is your responsibility to comply with applicable laws and to understand how such information pertains to your employment screening program. The foregoing information is not offered as legal advice but is instead offered for informational purposes. ClearStar is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice and this communication does not form an attorney client relationship. The foregoing information is therefore not intended as a substitute for the legal advice of a lawyer knowledgeable of the user’s individual circumstances or to provide legal advice. ClearStar makes no assurances regarding the accuracy, completeness, or utility of the information contained in this publication. Legislative, regulatory and case law developments regularly impact on general research and this area is evolving rapidly. ClearStar expressly disclaim any warranties or responsibility or damages associated with or arising out of the information provided herein.