– Thoughts on Strategy and Management

Time for a cross-continental conference call?

The Financial Times starts to become a priceless source of ever new food for thought for me. Many of the ideas seem so obvious when I read them, but they never crossed my mind.

Today Victor Mallet comments on the “new timelords of global business”. His point is that with the weight of global power moving towards the Asia-Pacific region, this time zone inevitably will start to set the timing for cross-continental conference calls.

Much has been written about the way Asia will influence and change global business. This timing issue is a side effect I never thought about before. As Victor writes, more and more European and American businesses are taken over by Chinese or Indian ones. So the headquarter moves to Asia. In addition, even those businesses still controlled from Europe or America will generate a larger proportion of their revenues in Asia-Pacific. It is all-to logic that the region where the headquarter is or where the majority of the business is done will naturally start to set the timing for meetings and conference calls. So we in the European and American business community should start to get used to a new rhythm in our working days – or nights.

However, I wonder how severe the effects really have to be. Of course, I am aware of the time constraints of today’s global business world. Sometimes it is virtually impossible to avoid nightshifts for all parties involved, especially if people from all three continents have to participate. Nevertheless, with a bit of politeness and less ignorance than in Victors examples it should often be possible to find time spots that are halfway convenient for everybody. I remember a project with our Indian subsidiary when I was working for a global player. It was common practice for us (Europeans) to schedule our conference calls in the hours before or around noon, so that our Indian colleagues (+ 4.5 hours) would have the call during their normal office hours too.

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