You are working in GMT + 5:30 timezone and you have either clients or office colleagues working out of GMT – 7 timezone on the other side of the world. You usually take calls at 11 PM in the night, irrespective of the other person being a client or colleague!! Does this sound familiar??
I have worked with multiple clients in Asia region, who say they do not have work life balance. When asked why they do not have a work like balance, they say because their company is global, they have mostly calls in the evening and they have to stay late in office to attend those calls!! This is a story that I see often playing out there with employees in this region.
I ask them what stops you from asking for a morning slot and the typical reply is “how can I ask that!!” or “It would be evening for them.. and they might not like to attend!!”. For me this sounded like a bias based on time and hence the name “timezone bias”. The people who are attending these calls at 11 PM, believe that they do not have a choice. Most of them have never checked if these calls can be shifted to a morning slot or a mutually convenient slot. Its a belief that my time is less important than theirs. Its ok to extend my working hours. Or there might be negative feedback coming in, if I ask for such luxury!!! Are you one of those people? If yes, then it is time to check your assumptions.
There are more and more companies worldwide who are trying to be truly global culturally and the counterparts are trying to do calls in their evenings to balance on both sides. They understand the importance of working together and ensuring everybody’s time is respected. Timezones are a difficult thing to manage. I am not denying that. I know how difficult it is for International Coach Federation (ICF) to have a common time for committee calls with 10 – 12 different nationalities attending the call from all over the globe. The team is so culturally aware that we make it happen and take care of each other all the time.
I think it is all about having conversations within the organization and see if there could be agreement on managing time for each other. I am sure your voice will be respected and the organization will support you. It is more difficult for client and vendor kind of arrangement, but again, this might be an assumption. You might want to have a conversation with your client or make it as part of initial contracting. Your clients might start respecting you more for standing up.
I would love to know if you have had such an experience and how things changed!!
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