Of Covid-19, Time Zones and the Virtual World of Meeting, Training and Education

Of Covid-19, Time Zones and the Virtual World of Meeting, Training and Education

It is common to hear the world has become a global village. It is a saying that captures the nearness that people experience when dealing with each other, especially leveraging on platforms that advanced technology and the internet has provided for social, economic and educational interactions. This chance to be a globalized citizen has been magnified with the Coronavirus pandemic. The offline world seemed to have to shut down. However, the online world has gone abuzz with people getting things that appear difficult offline done via virtual platforms. Major areas of the physical world that have enjoyed the virtual support included meetings, trainings, interviews, seminars and conferences. So, people across the world and situated in different regions of the globe are surmounting the barrier of the physical distance by going online.Online has become a choice destination for people and organizations.

One factor that has also gained prominence in this crisis period is time zone. A time zone is a region of the globe that observes a uniform standard time for legal, commercial and social purposes. Time zones have the tendency to follow the boundaries of countries and their subdivisions instead of strictly following longitude because it is convenient for areas in close commercial or other communication to keep the same time. It is therefore appropriate when a person gets registered or invited  for an international training or meeting, the time zone for such is first established to avoid late participation or complete missing of the meeting.

Time zones appear a complex concept. As it is, there are more than 24 time zones. As a matter of fact, it is said that if each time zone were 1 hour apart, there would be 24 in the world. The International Date Line has reportedly created 3 more time zones with several others with 30 or 45 minutes apart. There is a Coordinated Universal Time (UCT) and other time zones that are a direct offset of the UCT. It is common to see abbreviations attached to stipulated time for such events that are likely to hold in different countries of the world. Those abbreviations should be paid attention to., Or else, chances are that such events would be missed. This is not only on the side of the attendees of a programme alone. Organizers of events that anticipate international participation need to take cognizance of the time zone. This gives them the benefit to fix a time that would be convenient for all. From the common GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), it is commonplace now to see abbreviations such as EST (Eastern Standard Time); EAT (East African Time);  WAT (West African Time); CAT (Central African Time);  ADT (Atlantic Day Time) or SAST ( South African Standard Time). Some of these could be confusing.

Despite the proliferation of these time zones and the confusion they are likely to generate, people can easily find their way around the complexity of the time zones by making use of time zone converters. These are websites that assist users to convert time from one zone to the other. They can easily be found through the Google Search Engine. They give the time equivalent, explain time differences and other features that could assist users in understanding the region of the world they intend to interact with. When you get that invite with a venue fixed for Zoom or Google Meet, check the date and most importantly the time to avoid stories that touch. Many have lost opportunities due to time differences around the world.

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