Time management: not everybody is on the same clock

Understanding the attitudes of others towards time management reduces confusion and allows for the creation of realistic objectives.

Just in time

Several Canadian companies operate on flex hours to avoid traffic delays. This means that employees can choose when they want to come to work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., provided key do their work hours. As a general rule of thumb, all employees are in the office between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Canadians value time and generally get down to business quickly and try to avoid delays. Meetings tend to be well organized with each minute planned-out and a set topic. With that said, Canadians are not as obsessed with time as Americans.
Do: be punctual.
Don’t: be rude. Canadians are very polite and will not bring up your tardiness but will appreciate an apology.

Always on time

Australia has a time-controlled culture and businesses tend to respect schedules. Managers can expect their employees to work overtime in order to meet deadlines, as not doing so is a sign of poor management and inefficiency. All participants are expected to arrive on time on meetings. Not doing so gives the impresion of poor organization or a lack of enthusiasm.
Do: call the company to advise if you think you will be more than 5 minutes late.
Don’t: worry about being up to 15 minutes late to a business dinner or social event.

Take your time

Spain is considered to be one of the least punctual countries in Europe. Within the workplace, there is a flexible concept of time. Project deadlines are kept, however, unless an extension is requested. Companies do present agendas for meetings. They are more like guidelines, though, rather than rigid timetables. It is not unusual for a meeting to take place 15-30 minutes after its scheduled time and nobody will consider that it is rude.
Do: give a good impresión by arriving on time and presenting your business card to the receptionist.
Don’t: assume there will be delays or extensions for meetings or projects in every company.

Time is flexible

When working on a project, more emphasis is placed on the good will of each team mate rather than the respect of a strict deadline. Business is not always the top priority when scheduling activities. Instead, family takes precedence, which can cause last minute cancellations and delays. Most business plans are contingent on other’s events and family affairs.
Do: arrange meetings a few months in advance and confirm the meeting a few days before the agreed date.
Don’t: be late by more than ten minutes, Indians appreciate punctuality and keeping one’s commitments.

Time is money

Time is valued in the Japanese workplace, and businesses often run on a tight schedule. Companies believe in creating and sticking to agendas. If,therefore, a company sets anending time for a meeting, it should end at exactly that time. Extensions are considered
wasteful. Since time management is strict, appointments are always required and should be made several weeks in advance.
Do: take notes during all meetings. It shows that you are interested in what is said and, therefore, not wasting the company’s time.
Don’t: be late. You should arrive ten minutes early for a business meeting, and even earlier when senior members of the company are expected to take part.

All in good time

The term «Kenya time» refers to the relaxed style of time keeping within many companies. Kenyans accept delays as part of everyday life. This means that schedules can always be rearranged. However, employees usually arrive early to leave plenty of time in the morning for unforeseen delays such as traffic or weather.
Do: be polite and advise if you are running late due to delays such as traffic.
Don’t: forget that the first part of a business meeting is reserved for relationship building, so tardiness can be viewed as animosity.


  • Deadline: fecha límite.
  • Scheduling: programación, planificación.
  • Delays: retraso, demora.
  • Tight Schedule: horario ajustado.
  • Unforeseen: imprevisto.
  • Tardiness: falta de puntualidad, retraso.
  • By rule of thumb: regla de oro.
  • Time-controlled: tiempo controlado.
  • Flex hours: horario flexible.

Learn more: Greetings: how to avoid a cultural faux pas