Virtualised Timezones

So when is "work" time? In a previous blog entry I discussed one of my workmate‘s views on being a virtualised programmer. One of his guidelines is never to call a colleague out of work hours, but in a virtualised office that becomes an interval with very grey boundaries.

Even just on the Eastern seaboard of Australia we have Queensland on a different timezone for half the year, and when you factor in Adelaide and Perth in Oz, and the couple of towns just across the water in New Zealand that we could potentially visit it means the "work day" for the company could become more like 12 or 14 hours instead of 8. Note, this doesn’t factor in those colleagues who might be in the US or Europe on business trips, and neither does it include the fact that a lot of us talk regularly with people in those regions too.

Worse – a while back I had a 2+ hour commute to the client I was working with. I would use the time on the way home to catch up on email or call colleagues to discuss opportunities or issues. But, when you work that out, it meant that if I did actually call, it would likely be smack in the middle of family time for them. Here I am, with an otherwise dead two hours.

So the question I have for you tonight is "how do we solve or get around this problem?" I’ve already agreed with Darren’s guideline, but how does that fit into such a scenario as I’ve described?

As an aside, look at the timestamps for my recent blog entries. They show the flexibility of the virtualised office – noon, 4.30 in the afternoon, 9.30 in the morning, then 1.30 in the morning, and finally 7.30 this evening. Working in a physical office to the beat of some corporate drum would mean that it would be unlikely that I would have posted half of these.

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One Response to Virtualised Timezones

  1. Darren says:

    Andrew, I think that you can take hte rule quite literally.  In essence it means that you should respect the other person and therefore respect their timezone too.  Let\’s take your example to the extreme… it\’s nonsense to think that you\’d pick up the phone and dial a friend who lives in Seattle at 6PM EST.  You\’d first check to see what the time was in their timezone, and when you discovered that 6PM EST represents some absurd hour in the morning for your friend you would hold fire.
    Let\’s look at another example; let us say that it\’s 5PM EST and you want to ring a friend who lives in Auckland.  In this case it\’s clearly outside of work hours and you should therefore send an email… unless it\’s highly important of course.  As always common sense should prevail.

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