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Context

In the company we all work remotely. There is no physical office. People are physically distributed over 3 continents right now. Let's say A, B, C.

Most of the people are sitting in continent B. It is kind of a company rule that the "official" working hours are the working hours of B. I put official between quotes because actually, people in continent A are not in this rule. They are expected to attend some scheduled meetings that happen more or less during time zone of B, but other than that it is accepted they will work most of the time in their time zone.

For what concerns me, when applying to the position, it was discussed and agreed by both parties that I would also stick to time zone B. But I live in C. I was questioned if that would be a problem, etc. At that moment I thought for me is no problem. Although living in C, I can stick to working hours, i.e. office hours of B time zone. And so went the last months.

However, after those last months, I realised I cannot really adapt to it and I started feeling worse and worse. It has arrived to the edge in which I started looking for other jobs just because of this time zone issue (just slowly searching, not like crazy!).

Other than that the job is ok.

Question

What would be a polite and effective way of handling the conversation to request to be able to work at least partially on my own schedule? I thought I might argument people in continent A are doing so. But I think they will argue back, because they have already kind of two time zones, it would be unbearable to handle another one.

I could just request it in a very plain way. But it is going to be a negative response I believe. This is because it was explicitly specified and discussed since the beginning that I should stick to time zone B. What I accepted. However, I have the right to change my opinion right?

So this question is not about if I should quit the job or not. Is about an effective way to ask for flexibility in the working hours.

  • 2
    are you the only one in the company which works in continent C? IF not how do your co-workers from C handle this? – LaughU Sep 11 '19 at 7:37
  • Yes I am the only one in C. Another person was casually travelling in C and could work asyhchronously. Is not working full time with the company so she can schedule meetings and work only during these meetings. – Worker Sep 11 '19 at 8:49
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Any party in an employment agreement can request a change of the employment conditions. There is nothing wrong with realising the situation is not sustainable for you, and requesting a change. However, you need to be prepared for them to indicate that this is a hard-and-fast requirement. And if you can't sustain this, then you do need to be looking for another job.

If they are willing to engage the idea, you need to have, are clear answers for the problems that such a change would have. How would you mitigate the risks associated with your and your local coworkers working at different times?

It's not sufficient to think that you will be the exception. It's possible that by allowing you to work in timezone C, other employees may make such a request. In addition, just because employees of A get to work in their own timezone, doesn't mean you are entitled to. You have no idea what other conditions they have in their employment contracts. However, you can look to the employees of A to try to see how they have overcome the issues that you may face.

You also need to explore how much of a shift is required for you to be able to cope? Can meeting in the middle work for you? Can you try shifting by a single hour? You have to be willing to work with whatever wiggle room they give you.

It's reasonably unavoidable that this will be a bit of an awkward conversation, as you've already indicated that you can work in timezone B, but hopefully they are understanding.

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  • Thank you so much. A idea you prompted me to, is that I could say that I find the guys in time zone A work so efficiently that I could copy their techniques. – Worker Sep 11 '19 at 9:17
  • One of the things to keep in mind is the population of each continent or time zone. I have colleagues who are about 12 hours from me. I worked regular hours where I live, and most of the people on my project are in that time zone. But I do make late evening or early morning calls to those other employees. If you're able to stay in contact with the folks in "B", you could also act as an intermediary between others in "C" and those in "B". Something else to think about when you approach your management. – Julie in Austin Sep 11 '19 at 12:27
  • The thing is, I believe I could have most of the meetings, since they happen usually at working hours that are fine for me, i.e. would still be with in time zone C. No clue how to approach this. – Worker Sep 13 '19 at 8:35

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