Working outside of business hours

Thanks to the rapid change in technology, communications and travel costs we no longer find ourselves doing business with local partners, but in fact are working more globally than ever before. This might mean dealing with a contractor or supplier in another country, or even conducting a large part of your business overseas. Technologies such as Skype and Lync and the prevalence of mobile access be it WiFi or cellular make this a lot easier as we are now able to access these technologies from any location and on any device.

Unless you are Dr Who – time still matters, and with it come time zones and the challenge of international conference calls.

So while it’s easy to send an invite to someone in another country, find a suitable time for both parties is a bit trickier. This can especially be hard when you are dealing with people in multiple continents.

Being in Australia we are second only in time zone to New Zealand (and a smattering of islands) – the downside of this is that our European and US counterparts are coming online when we are finishing work or asleep. My basic rule of thumb is that my European colleagues are online towards the end of my day, whereas my US colleagues are well into their afternoon when I am waking up – the next day (according to the calendar). What this means is that for me to converse with European or US colleagues/partners/MVPs/vendors I either need to make calls in my evening or early in the morning.

How does this affect me as a father, as this can quite easily consume precious morning time or take up my evening relaxation time?

The concept of having a global role is not unique – many people already have this, and I deal with some on a regular basis. These people are quite amenable to having calls late at night, early in the morning, or even the middle of the night as their job requires it. The benefit of being a work from home dad is that I (nor my fellow employed fathers in Paradyne) don’t have to do the traditional 8:30am-5pm shift and can instead work around our conference calls. For example this morning I had a 7am conference call with a vendor in the US as it worked out to be the end of their day. Sometimes these calls occur with me in a robe (apologies for the visual), sometimes I’m already up and dressed in jeans and company polo – it comes down to whether I’m doing video or not. J

In exchange for starting so early I chose to sit and have breakfast with my wife and daughter, and instead got back to my desk closer to 9am. The flexibility extends to being able to finish earlier in the day to spend time with my family again, then to return to the study and finish up some work from earlier in the day.

For some this level of flexibility is not required. For others the continual flipping of work vs. non-work modes is not something they would feel comfortable with. As long as I’m available during the day when most of my local peers work – I’m also available the rest of the time when those in other parts of the world are too.

The fact remains that thanks to the cloud work is something I do – not somewhere I go or have to be at a certain time. Business hours are no longer just those in your local time zone.

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