Removing the nightmare of scheduling across timezones

Surfboard's new timezone feature's including a selectable timezone picker and flag tags.
Written by:
Picture of Shannon Ashley

Shannon Ashley , Design lead

Surfboard has made scheduling across different timezones a breeze.

Whether your support team is spread across the six United States timezones or with a presence in Auckland, London or Japan, you’re likely a victim of the nightmare that is timezones.

We’ve seen the how tricky it is to keep track of timezones using homemade spreadsheets and basic scheduling tools that simply add on a different row for alternative timezones, and heard accounts of manager’s hacks like changing their computer’s timezone to schedule their remote team.

Unless you’re a pro at adding and subtracting from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), scheduling across timezones is a faff and prone to human error.

With remote working and geographically distributed teams becoming more common, more teams are having to deal with timezones. The increasingly popular “follow the sun” model allows support teams to utilise different timezones to cover out of hours support.

Managing this way of working creates a nightmare on spreadsheets and other software. That’s why we’ve built Surfboard’s new powerful timezone tools, to remove the friction and open up new ways of working for international support teams.

Create shifts in any timezone

When you create a shift in Surfboard, you define which timezone location that you’d like that shift to be scheduled in. Then, Surfboard will automatically localise the shifts’ hours for that timezone, so you don’t have to.

You can assign any shift from any timezone to any surfer, giving you full flexibility. This means that you have the freedom to schedule surfers in different locations to cover each other. So if your French team are off work for Bastille Day in France, you can easily schedule your team in Boston to cover them.

We know that outsourced teams will often work for clients in multiple locations, so this feature removes the hassle of calculating time differences and speeds up your workflow.

View the schedule in any timezone

The schedule is automatically set to your current timezone, but you can easily view different timezones using the timezone picker on the page.

When you change timezone, all you need to do is enter the city you want to view the time for, and then all the times and shifts in the schedule will update to simulate the time in that location.

And, you can also click on the flag next to any surfer’s name to instantly simulate their timezone. Cool, right?

Adjust for daylight savings automatically

Different geographies observe daylight saving time on different days and when this happens, it can cause confusion and extra work for planners.

Surfboard manages this automatically, so your timezones are automatically updated when daylight saving happens, across any of your teams’ working locations.

For a team using the ‘follow the sun’ model, without properly handling daylight saving time, the handoff between geographies can end up scattered, impacting your staffing and coverage.

It’s when this happens that relying on a reference point like UTC can fall apart, as times change at different times, perhaps without you realising.

To make things even more complicated, some countries (and even specific Canadian provinces and US states) have ditched daylight saving entirely. That means if you’re scheduling a Canadian team, you would even need to account for daylight saving changes that happen in Calgary but not in Regina.

To make this even simpler for you, Surfboard uses cities and locations to identify timezones, instead of codes like PST, so we can account for the daylight saving time specific to that location.

Map your surfers’ locations

We’ve made it easier to keep track of your surfers’ timezones in the schedule too.

When you add a new surfer to Surfboard, you add their timezone location to their profile. We’ll then display any timezone or geographical differences to you whenever you see them in the schedule, or in a Plan, to save you from having to do the math to figure out what time they’re in or are meant to be online.

Surfers are always on time

In the Surfer account, surfers’ shifts are automatically updated to the timezone of their computer or device, so they can keep up to date on their shifts and make sure they’re on time whether they’re working from the office, home or travelling abroad.

Connect all your time off

It’s common for international teams to track their time off using different processes or HR systems, which can make scheduling difficult.

In Surfboard, you can add multiple iCals (a link to share data across calendars) from different HR systems, so you can include every team’s time off in one place, and account for different public holidays automatically.

Surfboard believes in fast, frictionless and fair scheduling. We know that when timezones are confusing and hard to handle; it can make things slow, inefficient and cause confusion across your team. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Check out how seamless timezone schedule is by reaching out to us below: