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Time localization for coordinating anything via email

If you’re trying to set a meeting with colleagues or customers and are all in different geographic regions / time zones, things get very messy, very quick. Take a recent example from my Inbox and a meeting I had with colleagues spread between Bangalore and Sunnyvale and a partner in Helsinki.

Every proposed time for the meeting looks like this:

Hi Guys,
How about the following times for our discovery meeting next Tuesday?
EST: 930 AM
PST: 6:30 AM
IST: 8:00 PM
Helsinki: 4:30 PM

This is a lot of overhead for a meeting organizer to deal with. App or extension based solutions for ‘automatically’ determining a suitable time for meeting slots exist, but they generally require the entire group to sign-up. This is unlikely to happen when dealing with different business units, external partners, and customers.

Seems like our email clients should be able to put time in context. Wouldn’t it be refreshing, if we could simply say:

Hi guys,

How about 9:30 AM for our discovery meeting next Tuesday?

And the recipients email client displays it as:

Hi guys,

How about 9:30 AM (6:30 AM PST) for our discovery meeting next Tuesday?

 

But how would we infer out the sender and recipients timezones are out of phase?

According to this Gmail Labs blog post from 2009, the sender’s timezone is available:

sendertimezone2

Our local email client (be it gmail in chrome, MS Outlook on a Surface, or Mail on an iOS device) definitely knows the local timezone.

With this understood, a filter could be created to detect a mismatch in timezones and augment messages with in-line conversions to local time, saving the sender from having to lookup and pre-compute these values.

 

 

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