What Does it Mean to Have Experience Working Globally – Knowing the Time


When it comes to what the value of having global experience really means, this is my breakdown of what this actually means. After working in my first enterprise job, I realized this isn’t something that is typically taught or trained on.

Clocks Point to Different Times

The most fundamental aspect of global awareness is: their time is different than yours

The 3 most important times of the day for anyone working a day-job are, in order of significance:

  1. The time people are allowed to leave the office
  2. Lunch time
  3. The time people get into the office

There has to be a time awareness when sending emails, booking meeting, or initiating chats with people. When they do not pick up the phone, you want to make sure you are not going to wake them up at 3 AM in the dead middle of the night. With ‘bring your own device’ enterprise culture in full swing, you might not only be waking them up, but their entire family once you dial that number.

Generally, avoid engaging people towards the end of their workday and also during their lunch time. It gets easy to forget the importance of this when their clocks are different than yours.

Daylight Savings Make it Complicated

Having lived in Toronto for most of my life, I knew that the clocks move twice a year. What I didn’t know was that daylight savings in different time-zones actually occur on different dates. Compounded with the fact that the day on which daylight savings changes every year, this is cause for a lot of confusion becoming even more critical to know during professional settings and for software application operations.

The best source to look up when a daylight savings time is going to occur is probably Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time_by_country

Otherwise you also want to be using a time-zone converter like this very good one: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

This was most evident with my work in the financial sector dealing with Asian, European, and North American exchange timings. I actually didn’t realize the United Kingdom also changes their clocks due to daylight savings between BST and GMT. This resulted in 4 separate days which we had to be on alert for when the clocks would move.

Time-zone Conventions for North Americans

I’m never going to bother to memorize this, but basically there’s this:

  • EDT = Eastern daylight time for sunny days
  • EST = Eastern standard time for everything else
  • EDT is ahead of EST by 1 hour

I’ve found that people never ever learn the difference between EDT and EST even with years of experience. This is also why I always tend to just use ET (Eastern time) instead, to keep consistent. The convention can apply for Pacific Time as well (PT/PDT/PST). It’s just too easy to screw up.

If you are not from North America, I’m sorry I don’t have any tips for you.