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I currently work as a remote employee , and we have a few weekly meetings that start at ~5:30PM EST and run normally for 1.5-2 hours.

Would it be unprofessional/not-advised to leave the meeting at 6PM? (Working hours are 8AM-6PM with a lunch sometimes thrown in there). I suppose they are at this time because some employees are not free until this time.

Not all of the participants are in EST, but by the time the meeting concludes it's normally 7:30PM and I haven't eaten dinner yet.

I have also been on 4+ hour calls until 9-10PM, so this is an ongoing thing.

EDIT: All employees are remote

marked as duplicate by AffableAmbler, mcknz, David K, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings May 2 '18 at 1:49

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  • Do you think your status as a remote employee affects anything here? – Philip Kendall May 1 '18 at 17:32
  • Is everyone remote? Do your working hours differ from the others in the meeting? – taffy May 1 '18 at 17:36
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    @confusedandamused I think it's important that you are not the only one who is affected by these late times. Are the other participants also complaining about it? What timezone is the meeting organizer in? What about your boss? – David K May 1 '18 at 18:16
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    Can you eat dinner before the meeting? Can you adjust your work hours on meeting days to start later or take some personal time during the day? – Bryan Krause May 1 '18 at 21:07
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    Are all parts of the meeting applicable to you? If not, you can request that they cover your business first, so that you can leave. We do this all the time because our time differences are so great. – HLGEM May 1 '18 at 21:57
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There are at least two options:

  • Decline the meeting, stating that it is outside your working hours. This is acceptable if the meeting is listed as running over the end of your hours.
  • State at the beginning of the meeting that you will have to leave at x time due to prior commitments after your work hours.

This works for on-site as well, but as a remote employee it is even more important. You don't want a perception issue where people don't know your hours and think you are skipping out on work.

However it sounds like this is a regular occurrence, so in that case you may want to talk to your manager about flexible work hours to accommodate a later start time on nights you have these meetings, or figure out if you need to go to these.

Another option is contacting the meeting organizer to ask them to provide an agenda and estimated time frame so you can plan ahead. That said, 4+ hour conference calls sound more like a work culture problem that I don't know if you can change.

Edited to add: Since the participants are split across time zones and it is reoccurring, you could talk to the others in your zone and see if they are bothered by this. Then collectively work with the organizer to come up with a better time for everyone.

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    The issue I have is that the event is already on my calendar. Secondly I don't think weekly prior commitments will/could come up. I would be the only person declining, so I would likely be "the bad guy" – confusedandamused May 1 '18 at 17:58
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    Time zones are always painful to schedule around. The business hour overlap may be very short or nonexistent. There is almost always an element of compromise in these circumstances, which may involve coordination of a lot of people to rearrange. That does not mean OP is not entitled to some consideration, but they should also not assume that they will get a strict 9 to 5 working day. – Kevin May 1 '18 at 21:17
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Tell the meeting organizer that the meeting time goes outside your working hours, and work with them to find a better time. It is likely they don't realize this time could be a problem for you, or didn't consider the local time in your timezone. If you tell them about the problem, they may try to figure out another time or move their other commitments. If you don't ask, you don't get.

I have been in this situation where I was the only Indian team member (as well as the most junior) in a weekly status meeting that had all the other participants from US and Germany. I told them that since this is going to be a regular meeting, it would be inconvenient for me to stay in the office until 10PM. They were kind enough to move the meeting to a few hours earlier, so the US folks would have to wake up early and the German folks would delay their lunch break.

Anyway, the answer to your question is, walking out of a meeting as soon as your working hours are done is not unprofessional per se, but people may perceive you to be a clock-watcher, which is a somewhat career-limiting perception. Moreover, if it is a one-off meeting, using flexitime (if available) is a more practical alternative. Being assertive in raising your issues and getting them resolved is always a better option than just walking away from the issue.

  • I am pretty much in your situation as I am the most junior - I just don't want to come off as "needy" or "that guy". – confusedandamused May 1 '18 at 18:00
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Yes, unfortunately.

I've worked remotely before, and there's a real risk of growing invisible and having people wonder what you do for the company. If they start questioning your necessity, your job isn't safe.

So you need to be hyper available.

I made the mistake of asserting my need to work within my own timezone, and what I described above happened at my job. I would be careful. At the very least, talk to your boss about it and see what they think. Only leave early if they're completely on board with the idea.

5

It's unprofessional for them to schedule meetings so late, but leave early at your peril.

Working remotely can be awesome, but you are in serious danger of being forgotten or worse - gaining a reputation as a slacker. None of the people in the meeting will see you start work at 6 am their time, but they will all see you bugger off "early".

If we assume that this meeting is actually important (a big assumption for a standing meeting) then you need to attend this meeting in order to do your job. If you can't do your job because you're remote and in the wrong time zone, well, you can't do your job.

Have you asked your boss about moving onto PST? Starting at noon and finishing at 8? Or getting overtime/comp time if you have to start at 9am EST?

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    I feel exactly what you described (slacker vs spending all your waking moments available). I have not asked since it's an almost even split between PST and EST employees. – confusedandamused May 1 '18 at 17:55
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    If the participants are in widely separated timezones, then some of them are going to have the meeting scheduled at an inconvenient time. If there's a legitimate reason for the scheduling, it's not a "dick move". – Acccumulation May 1 '18 at 19:32
  • @Acccumulation If that is the case, then the scheduling of the meeting should vary so that everyone is inconvenienced equally. Effectively punishing a subset of the team due to their timezone is unfair. – alroc May 1 '18 at 22:13
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I've been in this situation. This is a problem with teams distributed across time-zones. Remote or in-office really does not matter.

In my case it was a meeting that was scheduled for 5:00 PM Pacific time by a project manager on the west coast . As I'm in the Midwest that was 7:00 PM my time. The meeting organizer picked this time as "it is when you were all available". As several of us were in the office at 7:00 AM central time it was pointed out that we could do at that time. She realized that the meeting would have to be sometime in the middle of the day for everyone. Right after that a directive came that any meetings spanning more 1 time zone had to be between 9:00 AM & 3:00 PM Eastern time. I guess our passive-aggressive "solution" worked.

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    9 & 3 eastern? 6am to noon pacific? I hope you mean 9-3 PST, 12-6 EST. – Kevin May 1 '18 at 20:28
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    One (possible) solution to the "you're all available then" argument is to set your working hours in Outlook (if your organization uses it). If the PM attempts to schedule a meeting outside your working hours, Outlook will show you as unavailable. – alroc May 1 '18 at 22:15
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I work from 7 AM to 4 PM my time, but am in a different timezone than most of my coworkers. Most of them work from 10 AM to 6 PM my time.

What works for me is to add a recurring calendar entry blocking off the time from 4 PM to the next morning at 7 AM. This heads off almost all such meeting requests. Given that I have my manager's consent to work the hours I do, and given that my calendar shows I'm unavailable outside of those hours, I'll simply refuse meetings outside of my work hours unless there's an exceptional need.

So long as you have consent to work your hours, that's what I suggest for you, too. If I was you, I wouldn't show up for the first half hour. Just refuse the meeting entirely, just as you would if the meeting was at a convenient time but you had a conflicting meeting. If your calendar is blocked off in this way and you are still receiving lots of meeting requests, it's time to talk to your manager. Either your work hours are appropriate and therefore you don't need to attend meetings outside of those hours, or your work hours are not appropriate and you do.

  • Instead of creating a meeting, have you set your working hours in your calendar? Outlook has this option, as does Google Apps. If someone attempts to schedule something with you outside your pre-set working hours, they'll be warned that you aren't available then. – alroc May 1 '18 at 22:17
  • Alroc's idea of setting working hours in your calendar is a good one, though it wasn't sufficient in my workplace. – ChrisInEdmonton May 2 '18 at 11:50
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    Yep, sometimes people will just ignore that. But I've also had people blatantly ignore that I have other meetings (real meetings, not just blocking time out for myself) on my calendar as well. Success will depend in part upon how important the meeting organizer thinks they are and how much influence they have over others. – alroc May 2 '18 at 12:30
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Your question promotes the idea that remote employee may be treated differently than in an office. And it may be - stereotypically remote employees are more difficult to track what they are doing and may be more difficult to coordinate tasks. However, you should raise these issues and defend your position.

I would say it's unprofessional to organize 4h length meetings. It's difficult to remain concentrated for such a long time. It's waste of time and money. Do you get paid for overtime? Meeting organizers should prepare or suggest what should be prepared in advance to do meeting in concise and concrete manner.

You are free man and you can quit whenever you want. You may have other important affairs after working hours.

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    I would say that is very true (in my experience) especially with how your time is respected as a remote employee vs non. – confusedandamused May 1 '18 at 18:55
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    Exactly. It's a very important skill to learn how to stay focused and keep meetings as short as possible. – Eric Duminil May 1 '18 at 21:11
0

Asking people to be available after 6 PM certainly is a violation of general "business hours" norms, but there are reasons why a business would have a legitimate reason for requiring this, and having people in widely separated timezones is one of them. This is a situation where both you are the business have legitimate needs that are conflicting, and both of you should be making accommodations for the other. The business should be limiting these meetings as much as is practical, and using them only when the meeting is truly important, and you should be willing to occasionally stay late.

You seem to have two main concerns: the lack of dinner, and the length. For the first, if you have time before the meeting, you can have dinner then. You should be able to go two hours without eating. If you don't have time before the meeting, i.e. they are scheduling things before a late meeting, then it is perfectly reasonable to ask them to move things around so you have a break.

As for the meetings that go for four hours, that's an unreasonable amount of time, regardless of when it takes place. If the company really needs that much time, they should have at least have a 30 minute break in there in which you can have a meal. This is not just a matter of food but also four hours without a break being rather exhausting. If they refuse to have a break, it's reasonable to have a meal during the meal (although, if you can, put your side on mute while chewing). Snacking during a half-hour meeting would be unprofessional. But if a meeting is four hours without a break, at that point you're having a meeting during a meal rather than a meal during a meeting.

Ultimately, some jobs are more demanding than others, and in different ways. Your job requires more flexibility on schedule than most. You can try to negotiate more accommodation for your schedule, you can look for a different job, but taking the job and then refusing to do what the job needs is unprofessional.

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