How to Work With The World — From Israel
At the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe, Israel is uniquely positioned on the geopolitical map.
So much so, in fact, that ancient cartographers depicted its capital Jerusalem as being — literally — at the center of the world.
This might be of little consolation when your client on the East Coast asks for an early morning catch-up call (09:00 in San Francisco = 19:00 in Tel Aviv).
But being based in Israel does provide freelancers with the ability to work with clients far beyond the boundaries of Silicon Wadi.
People sometimes put up obstacles for themselves to doing business with the world that — in today’s world — needn’t exist.
Services like Transferwise, Payoneer, and Paypal make it simplistic to accept transfers from clients wherever they are located.
One of my all-time favorite online services, TransferWise lets you create virtual ‘local’ bank accounts so that you can give US-based clients ACH details just as if you were physically based in the United States (local virtual bank accounts are only available in several countries, but the list includes Europe, the UK, Canada, and Australia).
The next question, of course, is figuring out the time zone differences.
After a few years of working with international clients — and many hours spent thinking about time zone differences and figuring out overlaps — here’s a quick run through of how it works out.
My Israel-World Time Zone Overlay Chart
And the source data:
Firstly, some basics.
For most of the year, Israel is on Israel Standard Time (IST), which is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)+2.
And from (roughly) spring through to fall, Israel shifts to Israel Daylight Time (IDT) which is UTC+3.
Although time zone offsets with other time zones obviously fluctuate slightly depending on when those time zones are on daylight savings —which depends on what hemisphere the country is in — the chart above should give a good feel for which time zones it is practical to work with in Israel.
If you’d like the data in spreadsheet format, please reach out.
Far from being an academic exercise, plotting out when Opening of Business (OOB) and Close of Business (COB) occurred, in Israel, in major world capitals proved to be quite a useful exercise.
Here’s a run-through of what’s doable, what’s sort of, and what’s not.
Time Zones Without Overlapping Business Hours
Thinking about working with a client in Auckland, New Zealand?
New Zealand is currently on New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT) which is UTC+13.
This means that:
- 09:00 in Aukland is 22:00 in Tel Aviv.
- 17:-00 in Aukland is 06:00 in Tel Aviv.
Thus, office hours do not intersect at all.
And if you want to work with a client based in New Zealand that needs same day responses, you’re going to have to start working night shifts and stocking up on midnight snacks.
Working with PST / The West Coast
A much more common time zone for Israeli businesses to have to plan around is that on the West Coast of the USA —correctly termed Pacific Standard Time (PST) in the winter and Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) during daylight saving’s.
Lots of Israeli companies are based in Silicon Valley — and many have teams both in San Francisco and Tel Aviv.
While not quite as bad as the almost impossible New Zealand differential, working with PST/PTD from Israel can still be rather unkind on one’s circadian rhythm — and social diary.
Unlike New Zealand, California is also in the Northern hemisphere — and therefore is also on winter time.
Pacific Standard Time is currently UTC-8, while Israel is UTC+2, so the difference is 10 hours.
Therefore, at the moment:
- 09:00 in San Francisco is 19:00 in Tel Aviv
- 17:00 in San Francisco is 03:00 in Tel Aviv
Even if you want to hold calls up to midnight Israeli time, that will only take you to 14:00 in California.
As any Israel-based support rep dealing with clients on the West Coast will tell you: it’s a tricky one.
How To Work With PST And Retain Your Sanity
A few weeks ago, I was holding near nightly calls with the West Coast, near morning-ly calls with Israeli ones, and feeling like I was teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown as a result.
- If you don’t have a specific reason to target the West Coast, you might find Europe / the East Coast more manageable.
- Limit your calls with the West Coast to two evening per week at most. Sivan suggested Tuesdays and Wednesdays as people aren’t fond of conducting business development calls on Mondays and I’m fond of not spending the equivalent of my Friday night working (Israel runs on a Sunday-Thursday workweek).
- If you’re on call with the West Coast, cut your usual workday a little short, take a rest (or go to the gym) and then begin your calls.
- Don’t let clients to push back your meetings to times that aren’t manageable for you. Set yourself a firm limit (stopping at 22:00 to 22:30 IST) and stick to it.
Working with Other US Time Zones (and Canada)
Obviously, the further East you travel from the West Coast of North America the smaller the time differential with Israel becomes.
Discounting Alaska and Hawaii, the other major time zones you’re likely to come across are Mountain Time (UTC-7), Central Time (UTC-6), and Eastern Time (UTC-5).
The UTC offsets, again, are applicable only at the time of writing. Daylight saving time in Israel, the US and the rest of the world is not coordinated. So for a few weeks of the year, the difference will be reduced by one hour.
But currently and for most of the year:
- 09:00 in New York is 16:00 in Tel Aviv.
- And 17:00 is midnight (00:00).
As Israeli offices tend to work to a 09:00 to 18:00 working day, this means that there are a couple of hours overlap with the East Coast which can be worked without having to get on late night calls.
Canada has six time zones.
You’re probably unlikely to be working with a client in Gander (Newfoundland Standard Time, UTC -3.5).
Halifax, and Novia Scotia, is on UTC-4.
Working With Europe
By comparison to the US, working with Europe is relatively straightforward for Israeli companies.
Ireland, the UK, and Portugal are the three countries on UTC — so the time difference is two hours. (Time zones can get a little confusing. If you want to know the difference between UTC and GMT read this; but, in a nutshell, when GMT-keeping countries move to daylight savings time they are on UTC+1).
Central Europe is on Central European Time (CET) — which is UTC+1 during the winter, creating a one hour time difference with Israel.
Eastern European Time (EET) (the area in purple above) has no time difference — and that’s the time zone that Bulgaria, Greece, Estonia, Finland, and most of the Middle East is on.
This is convenient for Israeli companies because there’s been a huge trend in recent years to outsource software development to some of these countries, particularly Bulgaria and the Ukraine.
Parts of Africa, most notably South Africa, are also on this time.
Working With Asia / The Far East
Of course these days Israeli businesses are looking Eastward almost as much as they are looking to the West — seeking to do business with established Asian superpowers as well, more quietly, with countries such as the Gulf States that are discretely shoring up bilateral trade ties.
To give a quick run-through:
- Russia has a mind-boggling 11 time zones. But most significantly its capital, Moscow, is one hour ahead of Israel.
- Dubai (United Arab Emirates / UAE) is 2 hours ahead of Israel.
- India, despite being a subcontinent, only has one time zone: India Standard Time (IST — we share an acronym!). It’s at UTC+5.5, which means that they’re three and a half hours ahead of Israel.
- China likewise is on a single time zone: UTC+8. This places them six hours ahead of Israel. Hong Kong SAR is on the same time — as is Singapore.
- Japan is on UTC+9.
Working With Australasia / Down Under
Let’s break down China, Hong Kong SAR and Singapore — because of their significance and the fact that they’re all on UTC+8.
- 09:00 in Beijing is 03:00 in Tel Aviv
- 17:00 in Beijing is 11:00 in Tel Aviv
This means, of course, that Israeli businesses can begin their day early to overlap by a few hours with the Far East.
And finally — coming back to where we all started (or thereabouts):
Australia has three major time zones:
- Western: UTC+8 (same as China)
- Central: UTC +9.5
- Eastern: UTC +10 (southern hemisphere winter), UTC+11 (southern hemisphere summer).
It’s usually easier to remember this by notable cities. So:
Melbourne is currently on UTC+11 (they’re on summer-time!). Which means:
- 09:00 in Melbourne is 00:00 in Tel Aviv.
- 17:00 in Melbourne is 08:00 in Tel Aviv.
So if you’re at your desk early you can catch somebody at the end of their workday just before you get into yours.
There’s Always Somewhere To Work With!
If you’re a workaholic, then I don’t recommend working out a time zone map like this. Because if you do you will realize that in today’s always-connected world there is (literally) always somewhere to work with (at least in the Anglophone world).
Here’s roughly how to do it:
09:00–13:00 / morning in Tel Aviv
Early-birds can overlap with the Far East. 17:00 in China is not until 11:00 in Israel. Conceivably, a work day could begin at 07:00 in Tel Aviv — which would be just 13:00 in Shanghai.
Most of Europe is working too during this time period. Although Ireland, the UK, and Portugal only get going officially at 11:00 IST, which is 09:00 UTC/GMT.
13:00–18:00 / afternoon and evening in Tel Aviv
All of Europe is open during the afternoon.
The East Coast opens at 16:00.
US States on Central Standard Time (CST) open at 17:00, those on Mountain Standard Time (MST) open at 18:00, and finally the West Coast (PST) gets going at 19:00.
States on EST include: Florida, Georgia, New York, Washington DC.
States on CST include: Texas, Kansas.
States on PST include: California, Washington.
18:00–00:00 / night-time in Tel Aviv
The fun is just getting started.
Pacific Standard Time (PST) will be open until 03:00 AM in Tel Aviv.
At 00:00 major Australian cities are online.
00:00–08:00 / early morning in Tel Aviv
China, Hong Kong, and Singapore, will come online at 03:00.
India starts at 05:30. (Yes, you read that right. And no, that it no sense geographically.)
There’s No Reason Not To Think Global
Of course, I don’t advocate trying to work at every hour of the day.
But I hope, at the least, that I have shown that time zone differences are not an impediment to doing global business from Israel.
This goes for just about any country, of course.
If you need to work on roughly the same schedule, then Australasia is, indeed, pretty tricky.
The West Coast is much more common — and it’s not easy.
Europe is an easy time difference to manage. And early risers can can overlap with the Far East.
Wherever you and your clients are based — it can’t hurt to think global!