managing remote work when you’re in a different time zone from everyone else

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I’m hoping you and/or the readers can offer some help and suggestions with this.

My husband just took a new software development position that’s fantastic for him and his career. It’s a great company, and he’s really enjoying it so far. The only hang-up right now is that the company and most of its staff are based on the west coast, and we live in the east, three hours ahead.

As a morning person, he has always tended to get the bulk of his work done before lunch, and starts winding down his deep, intense work by 2 pm. Now, his “morning” standup doesn’t come until 1, so he feels obligated to be more deeply engaged in the latter half of the day, and often has people checking in with him at 5 or 6 pm Eastern time to ask for something before the end of the day Pacific time. These requests he’s been able to handle well and share with other members of his team, but it’s still eating at him that he feels he isn’t being a good employee because he’s not available for them all the time.

Though it’s only been a few weeks, he’s clearly having a tough adjustment period to the shift. I’m on a typical 8-5 schedule in an office, so I’m working on adjusting my own expectations and taking on some of the home tasks that are typically his, just to give him space to figure out his time. I’d love to know how other remote workers in different time zones have been able to strike a comfortable balance between work and home life. Thoughts?

Readers, what’s your advice?

{ 160 comments… read them below }

  1. Christy*

    My number one thing would be to switch the expectation (if possible) so that he has things done by beginning of business the next day rather than close of business the same day. That way he can spend those morning hours doing the work uninterrupted.

    1. CM*

      Yes, this! This situation actually sounds great for a morning person — he can use those morning hours when he’s most productive to get work done, uninterrupted, and then keep afternoons for meetings, emails, and engaging with people.

      I’d arrange my day like this: Wake up at 6 am; work 7-10; work out or do other personal stuff 10-12; then be available 12-6 (9-3 west coast time) for meetings and checkins along with anything else that can get done during that time.

      1. ceiswyn*

        I was about to suggest taking a long midday break; he might actually find it works really well to be productive during his morning, take a several-hour break in hte middle of the day for lunch, errands, Netflix etc, and then be available/working during the evening.

        1. Kate*

          That’s a great idea! This would allow him to take the mornings to complete follow up work or update projects for his team – and get them out by lunch time. Then, those folks have the finished work in their inbox for their “first thing in the morning.” Then he can take a break midday, maybe go to the gym, run errands, etc. And then do more correspondence/meetings in the early evening.

        2. Veryanon*

          Yep! I’m on the East Coast and report to a manager on the West Coast. Typically, I’ve found that people are pretty cognizant of the time difference and are good about not expecting things outside of what are my normal working hours. Occasionally I’ll need to be available outside of those hours, but it doesn’t happen that often. Breaking up the day works well too.

          1. boston project manager*

            Seconding this! With most things communication is key. If you’re using a chat tool like Slack or even on Gcal you can usually be really clear about your “Working Hours” and make sure it’s very explicit when people can expect things from you

        3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          This may work for others but it would never work for me. Once I power down off a work-day, I don’t do well powering back up. But I totally agree with shifting things around so that he’s still productive in the mornings without interruptions and then go into manager/person mode once his team is around needing him.

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            I have a hard time getting back into work mode if I relaxed over my lunch break too. I used to go read in my car and never wanted to go back inside! Nowadays I spend my lunch hour either working out or running errands. It seems to help my brain stay in work mode to also be productive while on break.

          2. CP*

            This is part of the problem I have at my 100% remote job and is having a big impact on why I’m leaving for something 50 home/50 office. Even if you get a big chunk of time in the middle of the day to do errands, I personally find it demoralizing (and it feels like a violation of home/work boundaries) to be working that early *and* that late.

          3. whatthemell?*

            I was thinking the same.

            If I were OP’d husband I would consider trying to shift my work day to be closer to my west coast coworkers. But I love sleeping a little later and prefer a slightly later “shift” anyway.

            Could the husband wake up a little later, get personal things done in the morning, and start work closer to 11 am or 12 noon (8 or 9 am west coast time) so he’s kind of in the same groove? To me that sounds heavenly but maybe if he’s a major morning person then it might be undesirable.

            1. TardyTardis*

              Sadly, I am slightly rejoicing at a morning person having problems when normally the work world revolves around them…I would *love* this schedule.

      2. Alice's Rabbit*

        While that sounds like a good idea at first, when is he supposed to spend time with his friends and family? He can’t be busy for essentially 11 hours of the day (because chances are slim everyone else is free during that midday break) and still have time for his wife and kids.

    2. Megan*

      I’ll second this. As a morning person myself, I get more done from 8am-10am than I do the rest of the day combined. It can take a bit of training for other people, but they really need to re-evaluate whether they NEED it by the end of the day, or just by the beginning of their next one.

      So many times I’ve busted my butt trying to get something to someone by 8pm, only to find out they just needed it for a 1pm meeting the following day, and didn’t even look at it until 11am.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Same here. I am an absolute machine from about 6:30 a.m.-10 a.m. Then I will often shift and do less mentally-strenuous work, then lunch, and then I’m absolute garbage after that.

        1. Emily K*

          Yes! Advice I was given a long time ago was to block off 2-3 hours every morning for the work that requires the most concentration and is the most important, and try to schedule meetings in the afternoons. The main rationale was to harness your refreshed/focused state in the morning for the things that most need it, and then when your brain is kaput in the afternoon it’s easier to engage in conversations about work than to actually do work. A side benefit is that if you underestimated the time to complete something or got pulled away by an emergency and don’t get something done in the morning that you planned to, you still have most of the day left to continue working on it without having to stay late to finish by COB.

          1. mrs__peel*

            I think that sort of thing depends very much on your internal clock. I’m a night owl who’s an absolute basket case in the mornings, and then (once my coffee sinks in) I get a a torrent of work done in the 2-6 p.m. window.

            1. RainyDay*

              Me too! I’m at my best after 2pm and will often hit my stride at 4pm and just pound out work for a couple hours.

            2. Fortitude Jones*

              I’m the same – my brain is utterly useless before noon, lol. Last Thursday when I shifted my time to start at noon because I had after hours calls to attend, I was immediately energized in a way I never am when I log in to work. If I didn’t have so many things to do in the next couple of months after hours (it’s ballet and orchestra season where I am, and shows tend to start around 7pm-8ish), I would arrange with my manager to start working 12-9pm. I got so much done that day because a) I worked out first thing in the morning (I slept in until 9), and b) most of my colleagues logged off in the “early” part of my day, so I had less interruptions. It was great.

            3. emmelemm*

              Yeah, I’m an absolute night owl too. I can doodle around and do things in the morning, but I can only usually hit an uninterrupted stride from 2 or 3ish to 6 or 7ish.

            4. Risha*

              I’m a night owl too, who has gradually shifted towards being better with mornings as she’s gotten older. 20s me looked like you; 40s me peaks multiple times a day.

              My most productive hours these days are roughly 10-12, 2-4, and then another big upswing after 6. I’m usually home before 8pm, but if I am working late I’ll get another bounce from about 9 – 11. I’m completely trash before 9:30am (today I messed up boxing up a laptop for FedEx TWICE) and after 12:30am, and only sorta better than a zombie between 4 and 6pm.

      2. Desperately seeking cute kitty*

        Same here! I often ask “If you’ll be checking the file tomorrow morning, can I extend the delivery to 9am tomorrow your time?” They pretty much always say yes.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It’s a 24-hour-clock, and everyone is going to be at a different spot on that wheel. Don’t let arbitrary divisions of the day bother you.

      I’ve done east coast/west coast, Europe/US, and US/China. People will develop a rhythm. When I ended my day in Paris or Moscow, my colleagues in DC were just getting started. So they knew that they could do a live checkin with me first thing in their morning, or they could send me things later that I would review and reply to the next day, while they were asleep.

      1. Ophelia*

        Agreed! And then it also extends the “day” that you have for when deliverables are due – so when I’m working with people 10-12 hours ahead, it’s actually great, because we can pass things back and forth, and each work when the other is off.

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          Yes! We just had a deliverable due Tuesday moring. Our team in Paris was able to work on it all day Monday, and then hand it off to those of us in the US to work on in our afternoon/evening, and we passed it back for their review and to send to the client ahead of the 8:30am meeting. We basically got a day and a half of work out of one day.

          I think the “Do you need this by end of day to send it to somebody else, or do you just need it done before tomorrow?” question mentioned by a poster above is key here. If somebody just needs it before they arrive in the office because they want it for the next day, then work on your own schedule. If it needs to be by COB that day for a specific reason, then work later and push through. But asking the question should help train everybody to respect the time zone a little more.

      2. Working with professionals*

        Something that’s worked well in our distributed work group when we got a new remote worker was for that worker to put an out of office reminder up each evening with their normal business hours and an emergency contact number in case it was a must complete today kind of thing. The majority of us were on the East coast with remote workers scattered across the U.S. all the way to the West coast. This helped everyone remember that there was a limited overlap time period that should be used most often for work and still allowed for those times when something needed to be completed outside of normal office hours.

    4. Emily K*

      Agreed – my department has people on both coasts and except in extreme circumstances where there’s no other option, we do not schedule meetings that pull in both coasts before 8 AM Pacific or after 4 PM Eastern, and we don’t expect people to respond to requests outside of their local business hours. We have a fairly robust commitment to work-life balance and it’s always been this way so people on the west coast just understand and expect that they need to plan ahead or wait til the following morning to get a response from the east coast. It probably helps a bit that we have more on the east coast than the west coast and the time difference isn’t as bad when you’re just waiting til noon for their day to start instead of waiting overnight because their day has already ended, and that all of our west coast employees work from home, so rolling out of bed in time to dial into an 8 AM call isn’t as bad as needing to be in an office by 8. But the time difference is just something that’s built into our expectations of what’s reasonable.

      At a previous job, the east coast worked standard 10-6 hours and the west coast worked 8-4 (or 11-7 eastern), so we overlapped for 6 hours of the day, and those standard office hours were always disclosed in the job ads so people were hired prepared to work something other than a standard 9-5.

    5. Nanobots*

      Yes, this! I’m on Central US time, and 99% of my coworkers including all my bosses are on Pacific US time. But I have one coworker who is on Eastern US time. When I flub and schedule something after her working hours, she’ll decline the meeting and remind me that it’s after hours for her (unless it’s very important or impossible to schedule otherwise). And I’m very glad when she calls me out on it.

    6. ArtK*

      Absolutely! A lot of the adjustment has to be on the team on the West Coast. They can’t ask for something at 2PM Pacific Time and expect a result by 5PM. To quote the lady “after all, tomorrow is another day.”

      I’ve been a remote employee for the last 20 years(!!!!) I’ve run into similar time zone issues. It gets even worse when your team is distributed globally. Calls are a pain because someone is either going to be up very early or very late in their day. Consideration and compromise on both sides are necessary.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        I used to have (long!) weekly standing calls with colleagues on East Coast, Central time zone, West Coast… and Hawaii. Fortunately 4pm East Coast is 10am in Hawaii so it worked out ok.

    7. Green great dragon*

      Definitely agree. ‘End today’ in my company almost always means ‘so I can work on it first thing tomorrow’. Check what time they start and have it waiting for them.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yes – pretty sure that was how things worked with our offshore team (12-hour difference or so). During our morning standup, they’d be either getting off work or commuting home. We’d go over things for us to work on that day and for them to work during their next day. Then we’d come in the next morning to updates and new code from them.

    9. WonkyTonk*

      Agreed! This can be to everyone’s benefit, since he can do stuff during his morning before they even get to work. I have a coworker with a 7-hour time difference so we barely overlap work hours. We regularly check in at the end of my day, so I can hand over stuff to do during my evening/night, and they email me with things to do during my next day.

    10. TheAssistant*

      Was coming here to say this! I work for a fully remote company from the Central time zone, with coworkers in Eastern, Central, and Pacific. My boss and I are both Central but he travels all over the country (and occasionally abroad). I’ve found that waking up early and scrolling/responding to Eastern emails, then taking a break to get me and my partner ready for the day, works really well. Helps me organize my day without diving right in. I usually do the highest priority and/or deepest-focused tasks in the morning while all the time zones are starting their day (and usually not bothering me). Typically I work at my desk until about 5, and then I’ll be responsive to West Coast emails while making dinner. I’ll use the West Coast emails that require more work to re-prioritize the next day. And repeat.

      It can seem like I’m working all the time, but even though I’m vaguely aware of what’s happening most waking hours, I can still run to the grocery store or shower at odd times that suit the schedule. I can unload the dishwasher while microwaving lunch and not have to do it later. I can visit family or work from a train or airport lounge, which means I have to take less actual PTO. I find the flexibility is more beneficial than a set schedule – you just gotta find your groove.

    11. JSPA*

      Yep! “I’ll have it waiting for you at least half an hour before you’re in, in the morning, in case you get an early start. And if there’s anything anyone else would like me to move forward during your down time, let me know.”

      Basically, having people in multiple time zones is great if you use it to expand your functional hours. The way they’re doing it now is just a PITA and a waste of good daylight.

    12. Silence Will Fall*

      The other thing I’d recommend is to check if there are core hours (official or unofficial). I worked with a fully distributed team and we had core hours from 12-3 p.m. EST that everyone was expected to be present for. Outside of that, as long as your work was done, you could set your own schedule. I was an early bird, so I usually logged in about 5 am, worked until 10. Took a couple of hours to go workout, run errands, etc. and then came back for core hours. People worked all kinds of schedules that fit their lives best.

      There were three things that made it successful:
      1. People kept their calendars up-to-date with their weekly schedule.
      2. There were procedures in place in case something time sensitive came in.
      3. There was an expectation that if non-time sensitive things came in and someone was marked as ‘off work’ it would be completed the next business day.

      1. Ms.Vader*

        This may work for more business related roles but maybe not so much software development. I work in IT. The early morning hours before anyone gets into the office are usually our deployment windows and the systems are down so that they can be updated with new code. Therefore you can’t actually use the systems. You would have to work around deployment windows. Further, it also depends on your delivery cycle – are you working in 2 week sprints? 4 weeks? If short like 2 weeks, you may have to be there to answer questions and develop on the fly requirements in order to deliver a marketable product in time.

        I’m on the west coast and we work with partners in Portugal. We expect them to be available for meetings and available when needed – so if I msg you I need you to hop on. Other than that, you can work as early as you want. See if your company could allow you to work say from 8-4 your time and then say you’d be available via msging or something from 4-6 if necessary. Bill for OT if required.

    13. SpaceySteph*

      Yes, this!
      I live in Central time and do a lot of work with the west coast (also culture-wise, our office is more early-riser in by 8 and their office is more late-riser in by 9…30 so it makes the gap larger) and we always say “open of business” as the deadline. It enabled our west coasties to work into the night hours central time and us to get some stuff done before they come in.

      It’s functionally the same as long as the husband’s west coast coworkers wouldn’t be staying late to work on it.

  2. Laura B.*

    My husband is remote and has a lot of co-workers 1 time zone behind him. His solution was to start at 9 instead of 8 so he basically keeps their hours. A time difference of more than an hour is probably tougher to do that for, though, but maybe there is a middle way that can serve as a compromise? Work 9-6 vs. 8-5, with them understanding that anything after 6 usually won’t be checked until the next day unless they text or call to indicate an emergency of some kind.

    1. CBH*

      I agree with this, but the first thing that came to my mind when reading this is that it sounds like husband is more (work ethic and personality wise) productive in the mornings. It sounds like theoretically husband could easily work a 12 hour day and no one would realize it. I could see major burn out sooner than later.

      Laura B. I’m not saying this to disagree with you. I do agree with you! Husband and company need to have a compromise. I’m just adding on to your discussion.

      1. I'm that person*

        Yes, the hard part is that the husband is a morning person and he will need to change his thinking. I’m not a morning person (well I wasn’t, but I have slowly become one as I have aged) and I while I live on the East coast I was originally hired to provide support to people on the West coast and my hours were 11-7:30. It felt weird leaving for work at 10 and arriving an hour before lunch, but it meant that I could stay up late playing video games. :-)

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      This isn’t going to work well for a morning person on the east coast. Resetting west coast expectations for ‘by start time tomorrow’ is a better expectation, especially if they ever plan to have other remote teams in Europe or Asia.

    3. Autumn*

      I am in the camp of discuss it with his manager to get clarity on the real coverage needs and then set appropriate hours expectations. My job/level requires 50 hours per week, can peak into 60+ during certain periods, but without having defined and set that with my boss, I could easily do 60+ All The Time (and be cursing my job instead of feeling its ok to tell people I need to delegate/prioritize/push back, etc).

      I used to work 9-7 when I sat in the East Coast office but now that I work remotely in the Central Time Zone, I shifted to 8-6. My company is global so, the realities of core working hours are that sometimes a BAU request needs to factor in time zone differences into the turnaround time, and only pre-planned meetings and emergencies are relegated to hours beyond core.

  3. LGC*

    …well at least we don’t have to tell him not to schedule meetings at 9 AM your time, incurring the wrath of your east coast counterparts who’d just like to do their banking and get lunch.

    (I love that this is the “ask the readers” after this morning’s LW4.)

    Actually, now that I think about it…could he treat his morning stand up like an end of day meeting? If it’s feasible (like things can wait until the next day), could he be less “on” in the afternoon – still taking some requests but not diving in thoroughly until the next morning?

    1. Delta Delta*

      That’s a good idea. Do an end-of-day “here’s what we need to do tomorrow” meeting instead.

    2. Glitsy Gus*

      My East Coast Counterparts love having 3pm meetings, which is noon my time. No matter how often the west coasters ask to even just move it a half hour earlier, nope! Noon. So many noon meetings. Or 6:30am. Lot’s of these too because, “everyone else on the call is out here, you don’t mind, do you?” Yes, I do mind.

      I second having him talk to his boss about having that meeting be more of a “sum up” meeting that an “start out” meeting. My manager is on the East Coast and it sort of ends up being a hybrid for us too, she tells me what is up with her afternoon, I tell he my plan for the day, and then we go over what I sent to her the day before after she logged off. It works out pretty well most of the time. There are the occasions when something important skews things for one or the both of us, I come in early or she stays late to take care of whatever it is with both of us online at the same time. If your husband’s company is mostly West Coast he may need to be ready for these occasions a bit more often than in a more standard situation, but for the most part it should work.

      1. LGC*

        You make it sound like East Coasters are completely self absorbed and have no concept of anything outside their immediate geography.

        As a native East Coaster…I can’t disagree with that.

        Anyway – I don’t even know if he needs to formally say anything in this case! Like, this is a company where people mostly roll in around 10, it sounds like. I feel like it’s fairly flexible. (It might be a good idea to say something, though.) I don’t think he should just ghost after 2, but it sounds like he feels like he needs to ramp up then – and if his job allows for it, he can just take the afternoon to answer quick questions and dive in at 6 AM (or whenever) the next day.

        This works less well if he’s supposed to be on call, but that’s the company’s problem for hiring a guy on the East Coast to provide services to a bunch of late starters on the West Coast.

  4. Alex*

    As a morning person, I know it would be tough for him to stop being a morning person. Can he move other things to his morning hours? If he can start his day by going to the gym or doing other tasks that he currently does in the afternoon that can help him be available later in the day.

    1. Kiki*

      This is what I was thinking– I was wondering if he can change/break up some of his schedule, especially if he’s working from home. I know engineers often have peak “flow times” (hours of the day when they are way more efficient than others) and if that occurs early the morning, he should stick with that, but maybe he can take a break late-morning to do other things so staying online for questions until six isn’t as much of an imposition. I don’t know what kind of housework he normally does, but late morning is perfect time to throw some food in the crock pot, get the laundry going, and go to the gym (it’s less crowded than early mornings and the lunch hour!).

    2. Happy Lurker*

      Morning person here. In the last few years I have changed my work/home schedule so that I spend an extra 90 minutes at home in the morning. I get a good 45-60 minutes of misc housework in (food prep, laundry, cleaning, grocery run) before work most days. It was an odd adjustment because 8-11 was my major quiet work time, now it has shifted to 3-6 pm.
      Alternatively, OPs spouse could keep the morning as the quiet work time and log off daily at 5 pm EST, which gives the direct reports 3 hours boss free. I don’t know how others feel, but 3 boss free hours is my quiet work time to grind out deliverables.

  5. EBStarr*

    So, I’m a software engineer and I would say it’s pretty standard in tech companies for people to work different hours from their teams, or if they’re in different time zones to respond to questions at the end of their work day with, “It’s 5pm my time, I can do that by tomorrow.” That may change a bit because he is the only remote worker–but my first reaction was, does he feel obligated to shift his hours to match West Coast time because he *feels* obligated or because someone has actually expressed this? His first step should really be to talk to his manager to see if it’s even necessary for him to be as engaged as he’s been in the afternoons. And what was discussed in the interviews etc? If it’s just about him being worried he’s blocking people, maybe he could set aside an hour in the evening to check his email/respond to urgent questions, or something like that.

    There’s a huge amount of privilege and freedom typically afforded to software engineers at your typical west coast company. He should make use of it if he can! It’s hard for people who are super conscientious to get used to (it certainly was for me), but … it’s great once you do.

    1. Anax*

      To add on – a lot of IT companies also work on flex time, and as a remote worker, he may not realize how varied the non-remote employees’ hours are!

      I have coworkers who come in anywhere from 6:30-9:30, and that seems to be a fairly common spread in the industry. Most morning meetings are scheduled to catch everyone – 10am or later – but it’s never been a problem that I unplug at 3-3:30, when my own shift is complete.

    2. Snark*

      Yes. “It’s 6pm here, so I can’t meet that deadline, but I can get this to you by start of business Pacific time tomorrow, does that work for you?”

      Occasionally he will, unavoidably, have to deal with a hot ticket that can’t wait, but for most non-emergency deadlines, start of business tomorrow is the same as COB today.

      1. TechWorker*


        In fact in my job the time zone difference (even larger) is almost an advantage (my way round) – though I imagine they don’t view it that way… if I receive an angry or urgent email at say 10pm or 2am my time then they know that the wait is going to be ‘at least tomorrow morning’. So I can research and prep a sensible response with all the info they need rather than being under pressure to respond immediately. Okay they might not view it as ideal for turnaround… but it does wonder for my stress levels that US folks can only bug me for approximately 3 hours of my working day :p

    3. Parenthetically*

      “does he feel obligated to shift his hours to match West Coast time because he *feels* obligated or because someone has actually expressed this? His first step should really be to talk to his manager to see if it’s even necessary for him to be as engaged as he’s been in the afternoons.”

      Yep, this was my first thought as well — is this a self-imposed obligation? Or would he actually be fine saying, “Great, I’m wrapping up for the day but I’ll have that to you by 9 your time tomorrow”?

    4. cat socks*

      I agree with this advice. I work with people in various time zones and in India. If I send emails outside of their core working hours I don’t expect a response right away. Also with my software development role, I’ve found that I’m able to work fairly independently. A daily status meeting is fine, but outside of that I don’t really interact with my manager that much throughout the day.

  6. Temperance*

    I think that your husband needs to work on getting everything done first thing, especially since he’s an early bird by nature and dealing with a 3-hour time difference. 2:00 p.m. EST is 11:00 a.m. PT, and his staff would likely only be working for an hour or two by that time.

  7. Jimming*

    Are the “end of day” deadlines he hears about at 2pm PDT / 5PM EDT truly so urgent? If not he could work on them the next morning and they’d likely be finished before the west coast team get into the office. I’d recommend he set office hours, let his team know what they are, and set expectations. He might just have to remind them of the time difference until they get used to it.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      That’s what I do – I work on tasks and get them completed by the next morning so my San Fran and Alabama colleagues can get whatever they need from me by the time they log on in their morning. My European and Australian coworkers who are ahead of me usually ask me to get something to them by the end of my day so they’ll have what they need by the time they log on in the morning (which is my night/pre-dawn time).

    2. Emily K*

      Yeah, honestly I would be more than a little perturbed if I was regularly receiving requests to turn something around in under 3 hours, even if we’re both in the same timezone and it’s 2 PM for both of us. I suppose it depends on the nature of your work, but in my book asking for an under-3-hour turnaround time means either something is on fire and it’s an emergency (so it should happen quite rarely) or the requester failed to plan ahead and manage their time correctly. Even if I can do something in that time theoretically, usually I have a full day of work planned and that means I have to bump something else to tomorrow to meet this rapid turnaround request, and depending on what is on my plate that may or may not be feasible. So as a rule I push back when I get these requests and say I need X business days for these type of requests, because I don’t want to set a precedent that I can drop everything and take on any task as long as that one task could be completed by the end of the day, without any regard for all my other tasks.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        All of this. (And when I’ve seen these requests happen, they’re usually what you said in your second scenario – someone not managing their time correctly and trying to make it your problem.)

        1. TechWorker*

          To be fair sometimes in tech this is ‘x thing is broken and we’re wasting test time/money every hour it’s not fixed’ – there are differing opinions on how ‘on fire’ that should be considered to be ;) but it’s not obviously that the person has misprioritised a task if that task only just started existing.

          1. Emily K*

            Very true, though I suspect if LW was in one of those fields or it was one of those situation then this wouldn’t really be an issue, because they would know they’re always potentially on call for emergencies regardless of what business hours are or what time zone they’re in, as opposed to just feeling as though they’re expected to work through the end of Pacific business hours because everyone else on the other coast is still working.

      2. Robin Sparkles*

        Same – I work in health care so luckily people understand what is urgent/emergent (patient is at risk -that’s definitely priority) vs quick as you can but at your convenience (need a report or data analyzed). It would be considered really fast to expect something that same day – let alone 3 hours – and if that was the expectation -it would be a phone call or in person urgent meeting. And you damn well better have a good reason for doing that.

    3. Allonge*

      I never had “end of the day” mean anything but “in my mailbox next morning”, at least not in the workplace. It should be ok more than 90% of the time to do that, otherwise it is really poor planning. And reminders, all the reminders. People forget what is in front of them, let alone this kind of thing.

    4. Blunt Bunny*

      Agree I’m not seeing the issue with the time zones. I work for a company that is founded in 2 European countries 1 hour time zone apart and work regularly with people from US and China. If I get an email at 3-5pm I will look at it the next day. I usually ask questions to the my colleagues 4-5pm but I’m not going to read the reply until morning and that’s fine. I don’t expect people to drop everything to answer my email unless I mark it as urgent otherwise I want a response within 5 days. If I want an instant response I use IM. I usually look at emails on my phone before I set off for work also to see if anything urgent is in my inbox.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I work on projects with people in multiple continents, and when we’re dealing with time critical stuff (ie, there’s a hard deadline for submission, or we’re preparing for on-site work) it’s often really useful to get a plot or some numbers to a collaborator in a different time zone before I leave for the day. That way, they have the rest of their day to work on it, and when I get in the next day I can work on the next step.

        During those periods, I’ll tend to check email/Slack for questions and updates at 4pm my time (when the Europeans are at the start of their day), and have an hour or two to deal with any requests before passing stuff back and heading home.

  8. Sir Freelancelot*

    I would suggest the husband to talk to the company he’s working for. Is it too unconvenient to let him following their hours? He could stay free in the mornings and start his day when they start. I work remotely for a company that opens when for me it’s 4.30 pm. I follow accordingly. Or, in my previous remote job, I used to start normally my working days (from 9am to 5pm), even if the company was 4hours behind me. They let me instructions and knew very well what time I was available.

    1. TechWorker*

      Starting his day when the company starts would mean regularly working til 8pm tho – that’s completely miserable if you’re not being paid for it/have literally anything else to do in the evenings/want to socialise with family in the evenings.

      (Yes, I know lots of people work evening shifts – but it’s a reasonable difference to a 9-5 and I think it’s reasonable for them not to want to jump to that!)

      1. Tau*

        Especially since he’s a morning person. I’m one too, and if my job asked me to work 12-8 that job would become an ex-job fairly quickly.

        (And yeah, there are jobs where you don’t get to pick your work time, but software developers can typically expect some flexibility in that regard.)

  9. Lucette Kensack*

    This is one of those things where there is a “the world as it should be” answer and “the world as it is” answer.

    Your husband should be able to draw firm boundaries around a reasonable the end of his work day (maybe 6 p.m. in his time zone?). In a perfect world, he’d chat with his boss about the expectations for his availability, block his working hours on his calendar, and go about his business.

    But if he does, and it means that he is frequently unavailable to his team, it’s going to impact his reputation — particularly because he is the outlier to the standard organizational schedule.

    And regardless of what he decides about the end of his work day, he will definitely need to adjust his morning routine; he’s going to have to be working at full focus and energy from 1 – 5 p.m., rather than his preferred focused morning schedule.

    1. Overeducated*

      Yes, I think it’s realistic to say “the end of my work day is 5 PM in my time zone, so I’ll be logging off after 2 PM PT,” but it may not be realistic to say “I’m working 6-2 or 7-3 my time” when that means he only overlaps for 2 hours with people in the other time zone. Half of the question here is time zones, but the other half is preference, and not getting the ideal schedule may be one of the tradeoffs of a job like this.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to set the expectation that he isn’t available after 6pm EST unless it’s urgent. It’s no different than not expecting those on the west coast to be available at 5AM while OP’s husband is starting his day. I think step 1 is having a conversation with his manager.

    3. nonymous*

      A lot of it also depends on how interactive his workload is. There is one person on my team that starts at 6A eastern (she is a morning person) and when she was an individual contributor, it was super b/c you could move tasks into her queue at the end of your working day (4 – 6P pacific) and her contribution would be waiting for you when you came in in the morning. Now, where it’s falling apart a bit is that she has been promoted to supervisor.

      So she will respond to email queries before I start for the day and then by the time I see the email she has made a commitment without exploring the implications. And then I get to explain to her why her decision makes extra work or if there was a better option on the table, which is a harder ask due to office politics. While OP’s husband is in a different position, since this is a new job he will likely benefit from the wisdom of his team. The split shift approach might be a good option to have that overlap, and he can try to structure his activities midday to help him keep up energy.

      Where I think he can really shine is by taking on some of the stuff that comes in overnight. So there is the opportunity to say that the East coast worker will take on the requests that come in after hours for the West coast people, and he will respond before 6A Pacific. Even if that means he’s getting the tasks that the West coast members are just not getting to because they were distracted by something that came in at 5P in their own time zone, it means the team as a whole is not getting behind due to those fires.

  10. inlovewithwords*

    I’m in the same adjustment period as your husband, albeit not as a developer. (Complicated by being in a non-profit so, uh, working hours/work-life balance is sometimes a learning curve to be sure.)

    And I’ll be honest, I think some or even a lot of the solution is going to be internal work for him. I happen to be a night-owl by habit, as is my partner, so sometimes just working a noon-to-8pm Eastern schedule that meshes with a 9-5 Pacific one is easy for me. That said, I also had a discussion with my boss about this and discovered she believes strongly in work-life balance, and she legitimately does not expect me to be working after 6pm Eastern unless there’s something pre-scheduled.

    So that’s where I’d start, I think! He should ask his manager about expectations for his time in the role, and if there are other remote workers who are in similar positions, he should also talk to them. But at some level, I think this is going to have to be him talking to himself about if he’s getting the work done and still being available-enough.

    One possible strategy that occurs to me is to do exactly what he’s been doing, of work in the morning and wind down major work, and treat the “morning standup” as a capstone on the day, and then consider time after that to be “on-call” time where he’s available for co-workers but also free to, for instance, go about his business a little bit too. That way, if he has a really busy day he can work with them/answer questions/etc, and if he has the downtime and already completed what he needed to get done, he can go back to his routine. This is *especially* true if he’s working from home, I think. I work from home, and I have found that if I’m having trouble concentrating, or if I’ve wound down but know I’m waiting on a response from Pacific time zone/EOD issues, I’ll just walk away for thirty minutes, check back in, rinse-repeat. Helps me relax and still get stuff done around the house without feeling like I’m abandoning the later time zone.

    It’s kind of that combined blessing-curse of working from home and being a hard worker, right: you feel you’re on call more of the time, but also, you can step away to check your laundry. If he uses coworking space obviously that’s less useful, but if he’s at home, I think it’s really gonna be mostly him negotiating with himself.

    He could also consider working out how to set up a priority system for interrupts later in the day to figure out which ones need addressing immediately and which ones can, frankly, wait until morning. That would require way more negotiation with his coworkers and manger, but it’s pretty fair.

    Either way, I think a lot of this is going to be him having to accept that he needs to maintain work-life balance–and especially in a day and age where a lot of folks are remote, time zone differences happen and honestly, unless something is highly-urgent-by-EOD, if I send something at 330 Pacific and it’s answered by 9am Pacific (and maybe at 7am Pacific but 10am Eastern) that’s pretty fine by me.

    And also, he really doesn’t need to feel available to his work at all hours! He sounds very dedicated. Seriously, as long as his manager doesn’t raise concerns, and he can check in with her about that, it’s probably fine!

  11. addiez*

    For a long time, I was on a team that had the opposite issue – we were east coast and our manager was west coast. So long as it’s realistic with size of the team, honestly communication was the most important thing for us. In that situation, it meant that he was really clear about his calendar and expectations. He had a standing lunch meeting on Fridays, so we always knew that we had to get to him by a certain time.

    I think it’s totally fine to say he’s most useful for responses before 2 ET or after 4 ET because he’s working on something else – so long as that’s appropriate compared to what’s expected of him.

  12. Jaybeetee*

    It sounds like your husband is starting earlier than these other colleagues, in addition to finishing earlier. Perhaps for a couple hours after his usual finishing time, he could keep an eye on his email for true emergencies, but otherwise address everything else when he logs back on in the morning? Then it’s still ready to go once his colleagues log on later.

    If it’s more like the colleagues are being a bit oblivious that husband is in a different time zone and that their 2pm is his 5pm, I don’t see how a friendly reminder could go amiss. Like EBStarr said, just mention, “It’s 5pm here and I’m logging off, but I can get to this first thing in the morning”?

    1. TechWorker*

      You might even ask if colleagues could flag their requests when they’re urgent (or use a different medium, like WhatsApp for eg) when they actually need a response. That would allow you to not be checking email as much and also make sure your understanding of ‘urgent’ is the same as theirs. That doesn’t help if you work with unreasonable people who think *everything* is urgent*, but if you’re having to read emails to determine urgency then you’re still working….

      *Remembering the time I was severely jetlagged and pulled into look at something at 9pm where a) it wasn’t urgent b) the other team involved already knew their stuff didn’t work (hence it was expected the end to end didn’t work but they wanted me to check whether our bit was working ‘just incase’). I was NOT a happy bunny :)

  13. t*

    We have this situation x 4 – I have employees in every time zone. If he’s the only non-east coast employee, it will be an adjustment for him and his team.

    Generally, we work core hours of 10-3 central time (that’s HQs time zone), meaning everyone is expected to be available those hours. Outside of that the rest of the time is negotiable within the scrum team. It works pretty well for us.

    He needs to work with his team to set expectations that work for everyone. Unfortunately, being a morning person on the west coast can be tough. Can he use some of those hours for the personal things he might normally do in the afternoon so he can be available a bit later?

    1. t*

      Oh, I reversed east and west coast I my response. I mean it’s hard to be a morning person in the east coast!

  14. Fortitude Jones*

    I’m remote, and my (former) manager was in Europe along with two other coworkers. I also have coworkers in Australia, San Francisco, Alabama, and on the US east coast in my shared EST time zone. I also regularly work with people in China, Singapore, and some other far flung countries that don’t really overlap with my daytime hours.

    This means that from time to time, I have to have late meetings after what would be my normal quitting time of 6pm. When this happens, I ask that my coworkers send out the meeting invite at least 48 hours in advance so that I know what’s going on, how long the meeting is projected to last, which will then allow me to shift my work schedule as necessary. For example, I had a call at 6pm and another at 8pm last Thursday that I absolutely had to be present for (they were coaching sessions I was leading). Because of this, I notified my manager the day before and told him I wouldn’t be logging on until noon on Thursday because I wasn’t about to work from 9am to 9pm. He was cool with that.

    The advance notice also gives me time to make sure I don’t have plans or, if I already had personal things scheduled like a concert or something, I’ll either have enough to reschedule that thing or get a refund (I haven’t had to do this much, thankfully). I also make dinner or breakfast or whatever ahead of time so I don’t have to worry about cooking on that day. I’m also single with no dependents, so it’s much easier for me to be flexible because I don’t have someone else’s schedule to take into consideration.

    1. RainyDay*

      Yes to this! I’m east coast and work with a number of Europeans. I’m fine with the occasional 7am meeting so long as you give me a heads up, so I can make sure I’m not up late the night before!

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I prefer late meetings (night owl, here), so I beg them not to schedule early meetings that I need to be on, lol. The earliest call I’ve had so far was at 8am, and it was hard to drag myself out of bed.

  15. PMgr*

    There are a few things he can do. First off, he needs to make sure that his working hours are clearly visible on his calendar, Slack, etc. so that people see it all the time. Shifting his working hours a little later – like wrapping up at 6 – may be helpful, but he still needs to maintain a clear end time so he can have a life outside work. Being available until 8pm every day is not sustainable if you’re a morning person.

    People learn from pain. After a few rounds of “I have a hard stop at 3pm your time because I’m three hours ahead”, his colleagues will learn that they need to get stuff to him earlier in the day if they need it back by end of day. There may be some exceptions, but they should only be for things he’d normally work late on (like customer emergencies). Assuming that his colleagues are well-meaning people who respect him, they will learn to accommodate the time difference. People do this all the time to work with global teams. If there are negative dynamics at play (i.e. people resenting him being remote) then it will be messier.

    He may also want to look at how he documents things that the people he works with need to know. Excellent written communication helps reduce the need to contact someone after hours. Taking on a team member in another time zone is an excellent opportunity to improve the team’s practices around writing things down and sharing information. This can be a big positive.

    Being a morning person on the east coast with a team on the west coast is really hard. He’s going to need to choose between asserting his boundaries and being miserable. He also needs to let go of the guilt – the company can survive without him for a few hours in the evening, they really can.

    1. banzo_bean*

      In addition to making his hours clearly visible he can also set up do not disturb on slack. When someone is on dnd on slack you can still choose as the message sender to send a push notification and disrupt the dnd, but you have to choose to do that (it asks you to make sure).

      Set up a similar rule for email to reply to in organization emails from your team members with (“My hours are: x to x, I will see this in the morning. Call me if there is a true emergency.”)

      For the first week or so (maybe up to a month depending on how frequently he interacts with each staff member) after implementing this I would check slack or email once or twice, just to make sure nothing pressing is getting dropped by your team, but I would avoid jumping in unless absolutely necessary.

  16. Vimes*

    It isn’t clear from the letter but is your husband basically now working both East Coast AND West Coast hours now? It sounds like he’s working something from 8am to 7pm if that is true. If he is open to it and it hasn’t already been established as a fact, if he can adjust to working west coast hours on east coast time or near to it so it overlaps more it may be very much worth it. It does take some adjusting, especially when you’re a morning person but you do finally get used to concentrating in the afternoon. And you can get personal tasks done in the morning.
    I didn’t have the exact same issue since I’m in the same time zone as most of my coworkers but I am a morning person who has a flexible schedule and a long commute in a metro area with notoriously bad traffic so I started working 7am to 3pm to avoid the morning and evening rush hour (which was approved and two other coworkers also had this schedule) however despite trying to force that schedule as best as I could most of my other team was a 9am to 5pm or even 10am to 6pm group since they’re not morning people and live closer to our office so I was constantly fielding emails and calls and working until 5pm, 6pm, or even 7pm so I ended up working 9 to 12 hours most days. I ended up giving up this year because it was just too exhausting after two years. He might just feel guilty now (like I did at first) but after a while it truly becomes a burnout situation too so it’s very much worth clarifying.

  17. CEK*

    Agree with many above – it’s about setting expectations. “I can’t get to that tonight but it will be on your desk by morning”. In this way, the time zone difference can be a feature, not a bug: instead of framing it as “I’m away and you’re working”, it’s “I’m available and ON IT before you even wake up in the morning”. He’s not behind, he’s ahead! Right? Right.

    1. Filosofickle*

      There’s an upside to all of this, too! If expectations are set and met, on both sides, workflow improves. Everybody has to think a day ahead. West coast person has to think about what they need tomorrow, and get their requests and deliverables sent before they leave for the day. East coast person handles things in the morning and sends their own requests or responses back before they leave for the day. If there are emergencies or unanticipated needs, everyone can pitch in, but ideally this rhythm reduces last-minute work.

      I’m a late-rising west coaster with east coast clients. With a little organization and a firm commitment to getting things out at night so they have what they need in the morning, it’s great.

      1. emmelemm*

        Same, I’m a late-rising West Coaster who has East Coast clients. It’s not always pretty, but we make it work. It sometimes means if I drop something on them late (for them) Tuesday, I’ll already have 17 emails from them in my inbox Wednesday morning before I’ve had coffee, but I just expect that.

  18. ellex42*

    I used to have coworkers in the neighboring time zone, so they were an hour behind me, and we could largely set our own hours, so some people would start at 8 am and wrap up their day around 4/4:30, and others wouldn’t start until 10 am and would still be emailing coworkers at 6 pm. Some people had children and would split up their workday to accommodate the kids.

    As our work was also largely independent, we had no official policy (other than the expectation of putting in approximately 8 hours a day, and being available to our coworkers during those 8 hours), so we all did our best to not expect quick responses outside of a standard core of business hours – approximately 9 to 4. Occasionally we would have to remind each other that “hey, it’s 4:30 and I’m about to leave, I’ll get this first thing in the morning.”

    Your husband may want to check with his supervisor to inquire what core hours he’s expected to be available. Otherwise, he should set some firm boundaries for himself and give coworkers a time frame during which they can expect him to be available.

  19. BRR*

    I would see if the requests can be handled the next morning or try to communicate to his team if it’s a problem. Maybe have an alternate method like IM for post-5 pm est requests that are truly urgent.

  20. Keyboard Jockey*

    This is so hard! I’m a developer on a team that’s distributed across the country, with a majority of my coworkers on one of the two coasts (but heavier East presence). I’m in Mountain time. Afternoon standups really screw with me, too!

    Is the company mostly based out of one office? Distributed teams are often aware of the fact that people have different schedules in different time zones, and that people choose distributed work partly for flexibility. Colocated teams with a few distributed employees have a much harder time grasping this concept.

    A few things I’ve found that have helped:
    – Ask if the team can do Slack standup a couple of times a week. That way, he can give his update in his morning and make his team aware of any blockers earlier in the day (and if folks are online earlier than 10am Pacific, they can potentially unblock him sooner).
    – Communicate your schedule proactively. Letting folks know you’re going to be out of pocket starting at 5:30pm Eastern during standup can help. (Also, don’t translate times to Pacific for them just because they’re West Coast. Use the Eastern time to drive home the point that that IS the end of the workday in your timezone.)
    – If your team uses calendars heavily like mine, put blocks on it. If he uses Gcal, you can also set “working hours” there and it will notify others when they schedule meetings outside of those times. Slack has similar functionality.
    – When a request comes in at the end of your day, know whether it’s something that is on fire and must be handled vs. something that can wait until tomorrow morning. The nice thing about being Eastern with a Pacific team is that you can make good on those requests before they roll into the office in the morning. If it’s not on fire, let them know that you’re just wrapping up for the day but will address it first thing in the morning. (“I have a hard stop at 6 because I have plans this evening,” is one of my favorite ways to address this — usually my “plans” involve texting my husband on the spot to let him know we’re going out to dinner).

  21. cosmicgorilla*

    Communicate and set boundaries. If he gets a request at 4:30 pm, he should push back and say hey, it’s almost close of business my day. I’ll have this to you first thing tomorrow AM.

    I’d lay odds that most folks he interacts with 1) don’t realize (or remember) that he is in a different time zone and 2) don’t expect him to stay late . Most folks will be happy when he says he will have it to them by x time the next day. Really, what are they going to do with at the the end of their day? Probably just want it delivered, and then will do what they need to the next day.

    Folks ask my team for “urgent” items all of the time, and we rarely get push back when we say we can’t turn it around that quickly, but we can give it to them by xyz. They’re just pleased to be able to get something and to know how to manage their expectations. Some people consider everything to be urgent, and he’ll learn over time which people those are, and can manage them accordingly. These folks (in my experience) generally aren’t very senior. There will be rare cases where something is truly urgent, or the request comes from someone senior, and he needs to stay online, but he should assess each case to see if he really needs to stay late or if it’s just his fears. I can tell you, the we-need-this-immediately and you-stay-late responses have RARELY come from senior stakeholders in my current role.

    My company is global, so we’re all working with folks in different time zones. It’s my perception that the folks on the west coast, where our headquarters are, are the worst for not recognizing time zone differences. They love sending meetings for 5 or 5:30 EST! I have no issues declining those or asking for a reschedule, unless it’s a critical meeting, or we’re trying to get someone from Asia Pacific online too.

    1. Kiki*

      It also helps to remember that people are probably going to send things late in the evening that they don’t expect him to answer in that moment, they just want him to have it when his next day starts (which would be very, very early their time). Setting a Do Not Disturb on slack can be really helpful– people can override the setting and and force something through if they deem it important, but most people are pretty conscientious and respectful when they’re made to stop and think about it.

  22. Celeste*

    What are the home tasks?

    If it’s picking up kids and getting them to activities, then I suggest he has to block that time and respond in the morning. He’ll be fresher, it will feel more purposeful, and it works better than you trying to take this over with your schedule.

    If it’s dinner, he might look into sticking with weeknight meals that can handle doing a lot of prep work earlier in the day after he finishes up his main workday. I think he has to block out a meal period as well. I think it’s a cost of doing business for remote situations like this–you just can’t have everything the way it is if everyone is one spot.

  23. Katie in Ed*

    I manage a remote software team with people in both U.S. and European time zones, and we’ve come up with lots of interesting ways to deal with this challenge. For us, we have clear expectations set for who is in at what times, and we generally stick to those boundaries unless there is an emergency. Not only does this allow people to work reasonable hours, it also had the added benefit of creating clear deadlines for when work must be submitted for any given role. Being conscious of these timelines forces us to think ahead when we manage projects, which is a good thing to do anyway.

    I know your husband is new at this company, which makes addressing the issue more tenuous, but I would suggest that he bring the request up with his supervisor. I would mention that he’s happy with the work and the company, but he knows he gets his best work done early in the morning. Then, he should brainstorm potential schedules that would work for him but still fit into the company’s workflow. I’m not sure about this company, but at mine, there’s always lingering stuff that could easily be knocked out before standup. In fact, it might even be more desirable to work that way! You never know until you give it a shot.

    Good luck!

    1. Filosofickle*

      I posted something similar above. It really can improve planning and workflow! It pushes everyone to get work done a little earlier rather than wait til the last minute and assume you can get immediate turnaround from a colleague. (Which may be unreasonable even in the same time zone.)

      Not every company is good like this. Some seem to want chaos and constant firefighting. But if you’re at a conscientious place, setting these expectations and boundaries is totally doable and can be a benefit.

  24. Shannon*

    My boss is on the West Coast, and I’m on the East Coast. She knows I’m an early riser and my “shift” (we do flex time, but just generally let one another know when we plan to be online) starts at 7 a.m. Eastern Time. If she communicates something to me after around 4 ET, she knows I’ll probably get to it the next day.

    As a compromise, I do tend to check back in around 7 or 8 PM ET when I can, just to make sure there’s nothing urgent waiting for me, but my boss definitely doesn’t rely on that. I’ve told her she can always just shoot me a text if something really needs my attention immediately.

    I would recommend that your husband simply ask about this, or even adjust his schedule a little — for example, if he tends to head to the gym around 4, maybe he could take an hour or so during the day to get that done and then work from 4-5 to be available a bit later for this colleagues without actually losing part of his day.

  25. A Poster Has No Name*

    I’m curious as to what they discussed about working hours when he was hired? Did the company set expectations that he be available during west coast core hours or did they say they were fine with him being done with work midday their time?

    Depending on what was discussed originally, he may need to adjust his schedule to be more in line with his west coast colleagues, if he really does need to be available for them during their core hours. If he doesn’t really need to be available to them later, then, yes, just make his availability clear and they can work around it, but if they do need to have regular meetings then he may need to be able to flex more in the evenings. Maybe not every day–he could maybe set 1 or two days a week to be his late days and people can schedule meetings later on those days, but keep his main schedule the rest of the week.

    We’re in Central time, and have a couple of remote employees in Pacific, and they pretty much keep to our hours (one generally is online by 6am his time, the other by 7-7:30am). It’s not the greatest, but it’s easier to adjust one person’s schedule than an entire office, and I kind of feel like a person who signs up for remote work with a company in a different time zone should know that there will need to be some flexibility around working on their schedules.

    Does the company have offshore employees? We also work with offshore employees in Belarus and India, and trying to find times to meet that aren’t outside of core working hours for someone is well-nigh impossible.

    1. Lauren19*

      This! What expectations were set upfront? Does the company have other remote employees in different time zones? I’ve been in situations where opposite-coast people adjusted their hours to meet the home office time zone, and I’ve also been the person on the opposite coast who had colleagues that wouldn’t dream of calling me off hours. If his leaders/clients are good with him working East Coast time, the other reccos in here of updating calendar and shifting promises to beginning of next day vs. end of current day are good.

  26. Miss Muffet*

    It might be possible to move the standup to a somewhat earlier time that is maybe a bit earlier for the “home” team but still more morning-time for him. He can totally set expectations for when he’s on vs off – with the caveat that anything urgent can be addressed if someone can text or call to let him know. It’s an adjustment for the team too. But I’ve worked on teams across multiple time zones and as long as you’re clear (and can have the discipline to hold fast/train your team) on your availability, it can work. We have people we work with in India and know that if we send them stuff during our day, it won’t get addressed till that night. You just get used to it as a team.

  27. Kate*

    This is a whole area of discussion and study in the agile community! People write whole books solely on using agile and having scrum teams across time zones. Check out their resources.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      I thought the Agile doctrine on ‘scrum teams across time zones’ was ‘don’t do it’.

      Googling does get one relevant piece of advice from Atlassian: use the standup as a hand off. The rest of the google answers boil down to ‘accept non-concurrent interactions’, which my mgmt team has deemed unacceptable for our global team (India, CH, BR, MX, US, CA, UK, FR). Splitting the 12 person team into two squads with more latitudinal congruency didn’t fly either.

      I would be interested in sources on effective agile in remote teams if you could point me to them.

      1. nonymous*

        I’ve heard that rotating the time slots is an option. That way it spreads the pain in a predictable fashion. Depending on your org, on the days that it is really off-schedule for your timezone, maybe only a representative subset attends or they don’t attend at all (but non-attendees provide a written update).

  28. Kimmybear*

    I work with staff all over the place so a couple tips. Update your Outlook calendar to show your work hours so that it’s clear to people that are scheduling meetings that your hours might be different. Remind people of your time zone regularly but not too much…out of sight, out of mind. I also wonder if the company is going to need to address this on a larger scale if they are starting to hire more out of timezone employees.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I put my work hours and time zone in my email signature. That can be a helpful reminder and a place where co-workers can look it up if the need to find it to schedule a meeting or something.

  29. Ella*

    I’m three hours ahead of most of my team (though I do have several other colleagues on my timezone, as well as many of our clients, which changes things a bit.)

    That said, a 2-3 hour block in the morning to get work done uninterrupted (because your coworkers are all still asleep) can be a godsend, especially for a computer engineer. I’ll often do a lot of productive work early in the morning before my west coast colleagues log on, take a long lunch break, then leave the afternoon open for meetings and calls and less thought intensive work. I’ll also sometimes stop work around 5-6 my time and start making dinner/watching tv/etc. but leave my email open for a few hours in case someone has a quick question I can answer in between loads of laundry or what have you.

  30. staceyizme*

    Hopefully LW’s hubs had some communication and was able to set expectations before coming aboard. Those are worth revisiting! “I need this by close of day” with a 3 hour time difference is a discriminator that he’s going to have to manage. If he’s more productive on the terms he’s set, he should practice some self differentiation and stick to it, with rare (appropriate) exceptions. His West Coast team will never have his schedule difference top-of-mind, so his explanation should stick to work flow, priorities and the practical considerations of organizational politics.

  31. Person from the Resume*

    I think this is similar to the idea of company culture or team culture. If the company or team standard is that most people work Pacific time, then the LW’s husband will have to adjust to them in some fashion. I personally kind of like the idea of her husband starting work early like he likes and taking a long lunch, but he has to figure out something based on his company culture and his own preferred work hours.

    My team has a bit of an opposite problem. I would say the majority of my huge organization is on Eastern time and DC eastern time where people like to beat the traffic by starting fairly early in the morning. This led to many West Coast people to starting around 6am PT or earlier to accommodate the east coast majority. They do get to finish work very early in the afternoon, though. Now my team makeup has shifted from East coasters to Central time zone and Pacific time zone people. Our meetings have moved to start later in the morning so the people on the west coast don’t have to start at 6am their time.

  32. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    I am on the east coast and we have people all over the US, many in CA. I think the first thing your husband needs to do is speak to his manager about what is expected. I get emails from people on the west coast frequently after 5PM my time, and unless it’s urgent I don’t follow up until the next morning. I don’t expect them to start working at 5AM unless it’s an emergency, so I don’t feel like I should have to work past 5PM for the same reason. But if the bulk of employees are on the opposite coast, your husband may need to adjust his working time, which is why I suggest he bring it up with his manager.

  33. Sapphire*

    I’d agree with the comments that often when people ask for something by the end of the day, they’d almost certainly be fine with it being done by the start of their next day, so he can work on it the following morning. If he does find that he is absolutely expected to be available later on in the day then a really long lunch break is definitely the way to go.

  34. Artemesia*

    he needs to reframe his view of work from ‘failure to be there for them’ to ‘ideal mix — I can work uninterrupted all morning when I am most productive and have product for the team when they start their day.’ He then needs to establish a check in time in his late afternoon/their early afternoon for feedback on his input and requests for work they need that he can deliver for the next morning. As much as possible regularize this so they don’t contact him late in the day.

  35. Katelyn*

    I’m in the same position as your husband: on the East Coast while a lot of my coworkers are on the West Coast. He likely just needs to shift his approach and expectations.

    Remote work = more asynchronous work. Just because someone is asking for something at 5pm ET, that doesn’t mean they expect an answer right away. I send things to my West Coast colleagues at 9am ET / 6am ET and realize I won’t get an answer until 12pm my time or later.

    The others here are right to suggest that your husband can respond to 5-6pm ET requests with, “I’ll get this done for you in the morning.” He’s not a “bad employee” or bad coworker; remote workplaces just have slightly different expectations from in-office workplaces.

    It might be worth raising with his manager or teammates – they’ll likely confirm what I and the other commenters are saying, but if there ARE different expectations he can have them laid out rather than assumed.

  36. Gaia*

    First, congrats to your husband on his new job.

    Managing a dispersed team is a skillset that is different than managing an on-site team. There will be a learning curve and this is something a lot of folks overlook. I’ve worked remotely and managed remotely and love both. Here’s what I’ve learned from managing remotely:

    1. Communicate the hours he is available. Tell the team the hours he typically works and how to reach him after those hours if there is an urgent need. Assuming he manages professionals that do independent work, he should not feel the need to be available every minute they are working. But he does need to tell them when he’ll be working and he does need to let them know how to reach him if an urgent situation comes up.

    2. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Seriously, when managing a dispersed team you really need to be consciously aware of communication. And not just about work. When managing onsite employees you might hear about their life, their weekend plans, where they are going for dinner. Spend a little time getting to know your staff. Don’t make every meeting, call, skype, etc 100% business with no personal interactions.

    3. Be open to feedback about the hours you’re keeping. He may find that they really do need him working hours with a little more overlap. If he plans to work 6 – 2 EST for example, they may only get 3 hours overlap and maybe that doesn’t work. Maybe it does so long as they know. Explicitly ask.

    4. Don’t work excessive hours just to be available. His team will take this as a sign that they should also work excessive hours (despite him protesting that they don’t have to).

    5. Solicit direct feedback and when it comes in, handle it appropriately. Hold regular 1 on 1 meetings with each staff member and have a mutual conversation about how things are going.

    Managing can be hard. Managing dispersed teams can be harder. But by being intentional (it is no coincidence that nearly everything in my list revolves around communication), he can do this.

  37. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

    I am in CST and most of my co-workers at a previous job were in PST. This is the same advice I would give anyone who worked from home. Have a separate space/work area preferably with a door. Work your hours in that office and don’t leave it except for bathroom breaks and lunch (and other very important things). Once your hours are over, leave the work-space, close the door and forget about it. If there is an urgent issue that his co-workers need him for they can find a way to get in touch with him (cell, etc.) While I could be wrong, I would think that most things could wait til the next day. They can email him after he leaves for the day and he can take care of it when goes to work in the morning.

  38. Marcy Marketer*

    This is tough! I’m in a different time zone than everyone I work with and I really count on my managers to remind people of my EOD since it seems like I’m a slacker if I do it. There is only an hour difference in my case though. I’d talk to your manager and see what she says, if there’s a way they can help the team keep in mind that you’re a telecommuter in a different time zone. Perhaps she will remind people to not expect you to answer until the next day if you’re emailed after 2pm pst. Or, if you can, adjust your day so you expect to work until 8pm, specifically on high volume days, and start late or take a long break in the afternoon. Maybe even do half days on Friday or Monday where you start your day really late! I sometimes will have to return to my desk after hours but I don’t mind, especially if I was able to take a long breaks other times in the week.

    1. Marcy Marketer*

      I like the idea of putting up an OOTO (if your manager agrees) saying you’ve signed off for the day and if they need a response by COB PST to text you at [cell] otherwise you will respond in the morning (EST).

  39. Teapot Automation*

    I live in Pacific US, most of my team is in Central US or other global locations. Clear communication is the key. My core work hours are in step with Central US, because that works best for giving me free afternoons with my young children. Due to having team members all over the globe, we have regular meetings very early or very late. We are allowed to flex our start/end times on those days to account for having had a late night or early start.

  40. Buttons*

    Welcome to my world. My boss and half my direct reports are 2 hours behind of me, half my direct reports are 2 hours ahead of me, and I am part of a global team that has so many different time zones I can’t keep them all straight.
    I am also a morning person and tend to get started at about 7 AM my time, which is great for the people 2 hours ahead. I also tend to stop working by 5 my time, which is 3:00 for half my people and boss. What I have done is been clear those are my normal hours. Everyone knows if they need something important after 3:00 their time to text me, and I will 99% of the time respond. But they also know if it is something that can wait, to send it in an email and I will get it in the morning. We are very clear about all this. If I send them an email at 5:00 AM their time, I am not expecting an answer, I am working my normal hours.
    He needs to have a discussion with his boss and team, he may have to work west coast hours. I had to do this in a previous job because that was where my entire team was located. I need to work when they worked. Thankfully, this job is much more flexible and we are used to being all over the place! He probably also needs to have a firm rule about not checking his email after a certain time. In my world texts are urgent, emails can wait.
    Good luck!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is how we’ve worked over the years of different timezones.

      Emails or IM’s are for work-hours. Texts are for urgent after hour things that may pop up. Most people are very self aware when texting that it means that they’re interrupting someone off-hours. So it really limits how many texts come in. It’s also one of those things that if it’s not urgent, you can respond with “Hey send me an email about this and I’ll deal with it during office hours.” if they’re asking for stuff that’s non-urgent and they’re not being ignored either. If they keep doing it, that’s a person to person thing that you deal with, most in my experience are really mindful of others thankfully.

  41. Cobol*

    I’m on the west coast, and not a night owl, but usually am in the office from 9:15-6:30ish. It actually helps a lot when working with east coast people to have our hours so different for coverage.
    There will be some people who are annoyed when they can’t get an answer at 3:00pm their time, but the value of having somebody already online at 5:00am far outweighs that.

  42. AnnieGirl*

    My company has offices in the US and UK and we work together almost daily. The understanding is that everyone works 9-5 in their own time zone. We get immediate responses to email and chat when work times overlap (like 10am US/3pm UK) but otherwise we know that we will hear from people when *they* are at work. Your husband can work regular day his time (like 9-5) – he won’t be available to colleagues after 5pm EST just like he won’t expect them to be available to him before 9am their time.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The thing is that they’re not colleagues. He’s the boss. So he has to be more flexible if he’s a decision maker who has to sign off on things.

  43. anon9*

    I am not unsympathetic but if LW’s husband is the only person who is remote in a different timezone and their manager, I do think he should make an effort to keep their hours (i.e. he might be more productive earlier but him starting at 6am EST is just not gonna work for his West Coast team) and be very clear about 2pm PST (5pm EST) being the cut-off for questions.

    However, since we aren’t getting information about what exactly everyone needs from each other, I think it warrants a minor discussion about “this is the situation, any concerns long-term?” It could be that LW’s husband can start at 6am EST, get their work done, and everyone on the West Coast team is better for it. Most of the time though, someone getting something to you EOD and you returning it to them at the beginning of the next, right when they come in theoretically, shouldn’t slow down the workflow.

  44. Ghost of a Ghost*

    I just got myself into a similar situation moving from MST to EST. Unfortunately, ‘Fair’ isn’t in my employer’s vocabulary so I have to work 8 am EST to 5 pm MST. Fortunately it’s only an extra 2 hours a day, but I really wish I could get overtime. It could totally be worse though. Nothing I hate more than interviewing and starting at a new company. The evil you know and all that.

      1. Ghost of a Ghost*

        Because my boss didn’t think my coworkers would be excited to know I was working 10 to 7, even though it works out to the same hours. I was able to wrangle working remotely by having been there the longest and having the most experience, But since working remotely is a ‘perk’, I had to give something up to make it ‘equitable’ or something silly like that. There’s a lot of weird things my boss does, but it’s the best place I’ve ever worked. Besides, I just have to work long enough to pay off my tiny mortgage and I can retire by 35.

        1. Buttons*

          That is crazy and makes zero sense! 35? THIRTY FIVE! OK, I have no sympathy for you now ;) Just kidding, well … haha

          1. Ghost of a Ghost*

            I’ve stopped trying to understand my boss for all the usual reasons on this site. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. All I need to know is if she says jump, I have to jump because I’m ultimately replaceable. Everything from crazy clients to crazy weather is my fault. I’m just glad I don’t have to worry about being hit like at old job.

            Wouldn’t be retiring to lay on a beach, but working a subsistence farm is a lot more fun than being in an office working for someone else.

  45. PrgrmMgr*

    There are a two things that your husband should do. First, he should respond to requests for work “by the end of the day” with “Given the time difference, can I have it to you first thing in the morning?”. I think this will be fine for most requests.

    The other thing he should do is break his day into two blocks – one in the morning, one in the afternoon. If he’s collaborating with people on the West Coast and wants to wind down at 2:00 PM, Eastern, that only provides a 2 hour window for many people to communicate. I think he needs to embrace that people want to talk with him and expecting to reach him in the late afternoon, Eastern, is a reasonable request. It’s also reasonable for him to set an end time like 5:00, and communicate that to others, but sticking with his preferred hours, especially when he’s new, is going to frustrate everyone. The morning block will likely be uninterrupted, the afternoon one is when he can work with others.

  46. Betsy S*

    I’m on an East Coast team for a Central time company with team members variously in the West Coast and Europe, plus we work with teams in India, plus among ourselves we have (unofficially) staggered start times. It can be a big *win* having people in different time zones because the overall team coverage is greater. It’s quite reasonable to ask that meetings be scheduled during ‘core’ hours unless it is an emergency, and if something is asked for by end of day, to ask if it can be delivered by 9am their time the next day. The downside of not getting afternoon requests done the same day is that end-of-day and evening requests may get turned around before the requester comes in the next morning.

    It’s very important to clarify with his boss and his team what his working hours are, so that he doesn’t end up trying to work from 8am Eastern to 5pm Pacific. That’s a recipe for burnout. But his boss does need to be ok with the availability.

    Once this is clarified, I’d also suggest that he get in the habit of logging off and not reading his email after his day ends, and let his immediate boss know that he is available by phone for emergencies, and let others know to contact his boss if there is an emergency. Assuming his boss is reasonable and asks ‘can he get it to you before tomorrow morning?’ , this should put a drag on casual requests.

    This could end up being a very positive thing. Quiet uninterrupted work time in the morning (many developers can only DREAM of this) and then meetings and such in the afternoon.

  47. Anon this Time For Reasons*

    It’s definitely about finding balance between him and his team and managing their expectations–I’ve worked remotely for several years and have had the balance shift across from even distribution in Pacific/Mountain/Central/Eastern (congrats! Someone is *always* screwed with regard to trying to take lunch) to now mostly eastern colleagues with some further west.

    Assuming his company uses slack or a similar messaging system, make sure he’s asserting the reality of his day. It may be that his colleagues *must* have him through 3pm Pacific, but it also might be just as true that they’ll handle his preferred hours just fine. So I would suggest he politely assert his needs not only because that’s good to do, but because it puts his colleagues in the habit of remembering he’s three hours ahead of them. (“I’m just about to fix lunch, I’ll be back in 20 minutes”/”I’ve been on since 7, so I’m wrapping for the day.”)

    For standup at 1, make sure he’s reflecting that schedule in his language: “I finished X from yesterday, and spent this morning on Y. Tomorrow it sounds like I’ll be working on Z. I’m about to take lunch now.”

    If he feels he must respond to non-urgent things after 5 or 6, have him remind his colleagues that he’s done for the day .

  48. Rebecca*

    I’ve worked remote entirely or in part for about five years now, usually with people that are in western and central Europe or on the west coast of the US (I’m east coast). It does take some getting used to and I expect your husband will probably adjust somewhat as the weeks go on. So first of all; hang in there!

    Second of all; I echo the suggestions about getting the bulk of work done in the morning and then being available for meetings and check-ins from around 2-6. I don’t think it’s necessary for him to work on west coast hours (though some people would do that) and to occasionally politely push back on requests that flow into the evening. This is pretty typical – when I’ve joined new companies and set meetings for 10am EST, I’ve had people on western time politely remind me that would be 7am for them. Your husband’s new colleagues might need to get used to an east coast colleague!

    In the meantime, yeah, “early” meetings will start around noon for him, but as he comes to anticipate this, it will seem less strange.

  49. Meredith*

    I’ve been in this situation! Two suggestions:

    1) He can move his afternoon/evening routine to the morning. Gym, errands, meal prep. That way he can still be productive, but in a different way.

    2) Keep doing what he’s doing and set expectations with his boss and team who rely on him the most. He’ll be available for urgent tasks after, say, 3 pm (noon their time), but the bulk of projects get done in the morning. Perhaps he can even send an email when he starts with what he’s working on. Ask if they want him to talk about tasks he’s already accomplished that day as his “priorities” at the SCRUM meeting, or what he’ll be doing the next day. One thing that could help with this and not tie him to a phone or computer is a smart watch. I found it to be very freeing, as I could go make lunch or dinner or throw some laundry in and not worry about missing something that was urgent. If they use slack or a messenger system, it probably integrates with the phone/watch he uses, and he might even be able to set email notifications to pop up. And obviously, if someone calls him, he’ll get that notification too. It’s not ideal, since it does tie you down to work for longer hours and start to blur the time between work hours and personal time, but it was better than constantly checking my phone or sticking to my desk during the time I figured I “should” be there.

  50. The Bad Guy*

    I’ve been at this a bit over a year and my only advice is, work when you work, take meetings when you don’t. It sounds like this should be pretty good for your husband since he gets most of his good work done while everyone on the west coast is asleep. I would advise him to work on Dev stuff from 6-12 like normal then look at his schedule for the rest of the day and only jump on for meetings he’s scheduled for. This avoids burnout pretty well and also allows him to do his job to the best of his abilities without working 60 hour weeks.

  51. Bopper*

    I had a coworker who worked with people in Eastern Europe…he would get up early, work with them, then take a break to go work out around 10am, then return later and work some more.

  52. YetAnotherUsername*

    I used to manage a team remotely across a few time zones. We had people in the UK, Ireland, Australia and America. In some ways it was really handy because we could work on a deliverable in shifts. In our case it was Documents we were producing but I guess in your DHs case it will be software modules or something like that. The way it worked for us was
    1 we would do a handover email at the end of each person’s task on the deliverable with info on what I did this shift and what is still to do and next steps. So if Amanda was asked to work on producing a particular piece of code she could work as far as possible during her day, then at the end of the day (or if she finished the task) send it to the next person with a brief description of what she accomplished and a list of outstanding tasks. Using reply all emails with a table of outstanding actions updated at each handover on each deliverable means everyone can see easily from the most recent email exactly where the deliverable stands and who currently owns it.
    2 we used commenting within documents heavily. This is pretty standard for code too I believe but maybe it needs to be to a bit more detail than usual
    3 we had a really structured file storage system with naming including date and version. Everyone needs to sign up to and use this system consistently or it’s worthless.
    I actually got an award for that project because it was a great use of cross – department and cross – company collaboration.
    Hope some of this is relevant!

  53. zora*

    It really depends on the company. I’m in the bay area where distributed/remote teams are becoming extremely common.

    Both my current company and my partner’s current company are very good at being flexible. Basically it’s understood that everyone is going to work on their local time zone, and is trusted to get in their full day of hours. So, if you need something early, you go to the east coast people, if you need something late, you go to the west coast people, and there is an expectation that people aren’t going to join calls outside of their normal work hours regularly. (Exceptions for specific calls that need to be with a client in India, for example, but those are infrequent.)

    If you need to remind people of your hours or time zone, like “I’ll be heading out at 5pm my time, but I can get this done first thing when I come in tomorrow, does that work?” it’s totally fine! There is no resentment or negative consequence from doing that. And people know some things will take an extra day to get turned around, but that’s still good. We don’t work on anything that is that time sensitive that one day will make a huge difference.

    So, if OP’s husband works in one of those healthy companies like ours, I would say he should work on letting go of his guilt and just stick with his preferred work hours in his time zone. People might forget sometimes when they ask for something, but it’s also a huge help to have that person who will be in the office in the morning on Eastern time and able to get things done first thing! So, if asked for something in PT hours, just matter of factly remind that person, “I’m on ET, so I won’t get to this tonight, but I can do it first thing in the morning and have it in your inbox before you get in, or I can delegate to someone in PT.”

    However, my partner did formerly work for a company that didn’t do this well at all, and were basically expecting everyone to be available 24/7 no matter what timezone. But I think that it was pretty obvious that was the expectation when his email and Slack were constantly dinging at 2:00am. So, I think your husband would know if that was this company.

    I think by reading how other people handle their work hours in their own time zone, and also by asking directly, he can get reassurance that he should feel secure working his preferred schedule, and it will be fine!

  54. Stargazer*

    I’m in Seattle, my former manager was in Atlanta, and my current manager is in Dallas. One thing that has helped is to explicitly say “if you have a question, ping me even if I’m offline and won’t get to it till tomorrow.” It’s hard to get over that sometimes – I’m inclined to wait till they’re in. Having it specified in advance is really helpful.

  55. Quinalla*

    First step is clarifying expectations with his manager. It sounds like he is expected to work 8-5 (or maybe 9-6?) EST, but there is some grey area with working late sometimes, etc. I’d clarify expectations with the manager, allowing for flexibility for true emergencies depending on the norms for your industry. For me, there are times I work nights and even weekends when it is truly urgent, it is fairly common to stay 30-1hr late and I wouldn’t batt an eye at that, so make sure you are accounting for your typical industry expectations.

    Once you have that clear, as another morning person I would definitely do a staggered schedule. Get in your focused work during your best morning time, take a longer break late morning/lunch to do house stuff and focus on meetings, etc. in the afternoons.

  56. Jules the First*

    I run a global function from my base in the UK, so I’m dealing with a workday that starts at 11pm (when the Sydney office gets to work) through to midnight (when the San Francisco team wraps up their day), by way of Hong Kong, Doha, and New York. My inbox literally never stops, and I have been known to get up at 3am for a video conference meeting (hey, it beats flying to Australia!). I deal with it in two ways:
    1) I work a 7 hour day in the office in London, and I do four, 15 minute sprints at set times outside my working hours where teams in other timezones can reach me by email or phone with urgent questions (usually 6am, 8pm, 10pm and midnight).
    2) On Tuesdays, I start my day two hours early to accommodate meetings in Australasia; on Wednesdays I start two hours late, which gives me four hours of overlap with San Francisco (and a lie-in!)

    It took people a couple of months to get used to this (and there’s one guy in SF who never remembers that I’m not available for 8am meetings on Tuesdays, but I forgive him because he also never remembers that *he* isn’t available for 8am meetings on Tuesdays either) but two years in, it’s working pretty well.

    Communicating expectations and sticking to them is the key.

  57. Sam Foster*

    I’ve had the husband’s shift and it’s really a matter of setting expectations that he finishes his day 3 hours ahead of the rest. This is super typical of big companies and if it isn’t for this company maybe it should be?

  58. nnn*

    In addition to what others have said, keep an eye on opportunities for your time difference to add value. If you’re able to somehow save your colleagues having to wake up early or something, they’ll likely be more welcoming of your adjusting your schedule to meet your needs.

    (Example from my own workplace: an employee on the west coast who suddenly found himself with caregiving duties was able to arrange a “20 hours a week, to be decided on a day-to-day basis” schedule by taking on all the last-minute requests that east-coast clients sent at the end of the day.

    Another thing I’ve found useful when working remotely is doing a sort of unofficial split shift. I do some work during the hours that are good for me, stay available during the hours when my employer wants me to be available, and do personal stuff in between.

  59. SusanIvanova*

    I’ll quote something I saw on chat at work this afternoon: “It’s 7PM my time, so I’ll look at it tomorrow.” It’s totally fine to do that! Good co-workers will appreciate the reminder.

  60. Mizzle*

    From the letter, I cannot quite tell whether your approaching this as an issue that you need to fix/mitigate or more as a new situation that you need to adjust to. I’d recommend leaning towards the latter. In similar situations, I’ve found that having different colleagues working at different times can actually be a benefit, if you’re communicating well and are able to plan for the next 24 to 48 hours. Once you get to a state where you can say ‘okay, we need to do A first, which is a task for Peter, then Edmund can take the results and write a report. Meanwhile, Susan can confirm that these are the right settings and Lucy can work on requesting the materials,’ you’ll probably find that there’s a way to make it fit. It might even be more efficient because people don’t need to sit and wait for a response. Of course, good communication and short-term planning aren’t easy, but it’s worth investing in (and it’s nice when you can see the benefits immediately in situations like these.)

  61. Krabby*

    I’m honestly wondering if I just did OP’s husband’s 3 month review, haha. Same deal of East Coast/West Coast software dev position. I know that my dev works his hours as normal, then finishes up an hour before he normally would, his time. He does some household chores, eats dinner with his wife, goes for a walk with her and then logs back in for an hour at the end of our day to wrap up any final tasks and make sure he has everything to hit the ground running the next morning. I doubt that will work for everyone, but he loves it because, as others have said, he gets a ton of stuff done in the morning, /plus/ he gets uninterrupted family time every evening.

    I would say that the other caveat is that he visited us a lot in his first few months so that the team got to know him and they are happy to work around his schedule. I think that’s actually the most important part. People are a lot more willing to assign you positive motivation for a delayed response if they like you and know your circumstances. Plus they will start factoring you into things.

  62. MoopySwarpet*

    Would it be possible to continue to work during his most productive hours and then take a longer break mid-day to do chores, run errands, schedule appointments, etc. and then work for another 2-3 hours on urgent things until whatever time works for your household?

    Probably, it’s going to be a matter of settling in.

  63. just trying to help*

    Keep a timezone map within site in the home office. Establish core hours, maybe 3-4, when everybody can be available to everybody else. your early hours are for catching up with no need for input and working on what came in overnight from the west coasters. The west coasters can do the same with their afternoons after core hours are over. Weekly conference calls during core hours will be important.

  64. Sarah*

    Obviously check in with his boss about his preferred schedule and if it’s ok or not. Other people may just be assuming that because they work until 5 or 6 PM, he would too, but that doesn’t mean that they would be bothered or have a problem if he said he only worked until 3 PM given his early start – depends on the work and level of collaboration and urgentness of tasks!

  65. Colin R*

    I have been in the identical situation for three companies over eleven years, with the past year being the only team member in NYC. Software developer in NYC for Silicon Valley companies. I work 8-5 ET. Part of my job ends up being enforcing expectations, pushing back on every late meeting, late all hands, “company” event that’s really only HQ.

    I have a 5-9pm daily meeting titled “dinner with family”. I speak at my daily “morning” standup (at 2pm) as a midday standup.

    The thing to remember and stress is that the company wants East Coast developers, and must accommodate them.

  66. Renee*

    A lot of the co-workers I work with come from eastern, central, or mountain time, while I work pacific. However, I like starting my days really early so I can get off early so my start time is normally 5:30am to 6:00am PST, which works out great for my co-workers on EST. My manager and other PST co-workers still do the regular 8am to 5pm PST time, and yeah sometimes their are times they need me after 2pm PST. But generally, it all works out fine, my east coast co-workers get their data requests in, and very rarely does an emergency request come in that requires me to be all hands on deck after 2pm. My advice is stick with the hours that best suit your productivity, most emails can still be answered the morning after they were sent, especially if they were sent after 3pm PST.

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