Fighting Against the Current: A Case Study of Daylight Savings Time vs. A Global Market

Daylight Savings Time comes and goes again in the USA. Our representatives again are trying to introduce a bill to stop it. Will this be the year that we break the habit? Or will we kick the can down the road again?

It started with best intentions in mind. The idea was to reduce fuel usage during dark hours. But in the contemporary world, is Daylight Savings Time useless?

Something new for me in recent years is the global element of time zones. For some people living in the Americas like me, our clocks changed on March 14th. For Europe, the Middle East, and some other areas, different changes happen on different dates. The remainder of the world does not alter their clocks. Since one region changes at a time, this means that when the US changes its clocks, most of the rest of the world hasn’t. This causes friction when you talk to people in other time zones.

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As part of my work, I meet on virtual conference calls with people around the globe. Twice a year I have to reschedule my calls to address overlaps caused by Daylight Savings Time. I know it’s not just me. The number of companies working in a global marketplace is rising more with every year. So this issue will only increase.

Let’s estimate the costs of this:

Suppose 15 minutes to find free time to reschedule all my recurring meetings

Suppose 15 minutes more from follow-up scheduling or meetings missed due to miscommunications

Doing this twice a year costs 1 hour of time annually.

Suppose the individuals involved have an average annual salary of $50K USD and work a standard 2,080 hours per year.

That hour costs $24 with those assumptions.

Assuming a global workforce of 1 billion people, let’s assume half are affected by a Daylight Savings Time switch twice a year.

That’s 500M people spending $24 each, which is $12 Billion. Ranking this $12B amount compared to the GDP of other nations would place it at number 132 out of 190, behind Brunei and in front of Armenia and Madagascar (which has a population of 25 Million people!).

$12 Billion from rescheduling meetings due to Daylight Savings Time. My numbers may be off, but by how much? My next question is, what’s the value of the fuel saved from those participating in Daylight Savings Time? Are we saving $12 Billion in fuel per year?