Time zone hours – one of the traps of being a telecommuter, especially if you are in different time zone, is that you will be expected to be available longer hours.
The expectation is that you will be working a standard day (8.00am till 5.00pm) in your own time zone. Then, on top of these hours, you will be expected to be available for meetings during the standard hours of the company’s offices in a different time zone. For me, that means that I can expect calls and meetings between 5pm and 7pm my time…as I am 2 hrs ahead of my office.
Some of you might find yourself working in time zones VERY different from your office. I once worked for a company on USA Mountain Time and lived in Australian Eastern Time. This meant that I was constantly needing to remind people of the time difference – and using a time zone calculator was essential.
What is the time zone hours issue?
While many would expect that people would be considerate of your working hours in a different time zone, practice shows that this is rarely the case. Whether it is just an misunderstanding of the time zone hours that you work, or some level of resentment that you are not ‘trapped’ at the office, meetings will often be held in those ‘out of zone’ times for you.
How do you cope with time zone hours?
There is two ways to deal with this time zone hour issue.
Work to your hours
The first is the approach that you don’t ever attend meetings or answer phone calls outside of YOUR working hours. You just stick to your time zone hours. While this seems a sensible approach, it rarely works and often all it does is build resentment with co-workers who misunderstand the time zone hours you work and feel that if you are not available it’s because you are “goofing off” while they are working. This can work against you as you will get a reputation of being inflexible and not willing to play within the company culture.
The second approach is to always be available for meetings and calls in the time zone for the OFFICE, and then take time back out of YOUR work day to compensate for that personal time taken. So for example, if you are pulled into a two hour meeting in outside of your time zone hours in the evening, take those two hours off the next morning. It is good to have a understanding with you boss that this is what you will be doing – it is only fair that you get back hours that you have worked to be flexible for the office culture.
Working in different time zones can have its benefits – but only if you develop an effective strategy to deal with the time zone hours issue that suits you and your boss!