The blogosphere is abuzz with comments about The Daily Telegraph’s editorial that we should eliminate time zones in favor of a single “Global Time.”
Since the Telegraph is a British newspaper, Global Time means Greenwich Mean Time. The argument in favor of Global Time is that it’s simple and that New Yorkers will get used to the alarm clock going off at what is currently 11 p.m. EDT.
While a single time zone could solve some problems, it would undoubtedly create other issues—like choosing the time zone that would become Global Time. Another issue is that highly-collaborative companies leverage mirror zones (see my March 16 post) for 24-hour product and service design and development. Shifting to a single time zone would compromise that business model.
The discussion about time zones points up an issue that plagues many organizations. I have worked with global companies that expect the rest of the world to adopt headquarters-driven, real-time collaboration schedules. This means team members in Paris must collaborate at night with a Seattle headquarters or a team in Tokyo must conference at 5 a.m. with headquarters in New York where it’s 4 p.m. The result is that people in other regions feel abused by the home office and can even interpret such practices as cultural insensitivity.
The most collaborative companies reject headquarters-driven schedules. In The Culture of Collaboration book, I describe how collaborative organizations solve time zone problems by rotating convenience among regions. This has particular relevance for scheduled videoconferences and web conferences. The convenience of spontaneous encounters should also rotate based on common sense. If one collaborator or group of collaborators stays up late one week, their counterparts across the ocean may sacrifice convenience the next week. Collaborative leaders must consider work styles and lifestyles of global team members when scheduling interactions or collaborating spontaneously.
It’s time to BREAK OUT of a headquarters-driven collaboration schedule and mindset so that global teams can create greater value.