I knew going into this wild live/work abroad experiment that it would take time getting used to working strange hours. I’ve worked with teams around the world, but I’ve almost always been on HQ Time. This is the first time I’ve been one of the fully odd ones out.
The company I worked for in NYC was headquartered in San Francisco, which meant that as the HQ Team arrived in the morning, we were usually leaving for lunch. And, later in the day, when they returned from lunch ready to really get productive, we were looking forward to heading out the door. We tended to shift our schedules a little later on the East Coast, arriving around 10 and leaving around 7, to be more accommodating of West Coast schedules. There wasn’t exactly a lot of complaining on our end, since not a single one of us was an early bird.
When I was back in Seattle and working on the contracts team at PATH, my boss frequently traveled to Africa and spent several months at a stretch working in Kenya. We were on completely opposite schedules. She would send me emails and to do’s overnight, and I would respond and send her questions and updates while she slept. Because the time difference was so off, neither one of us felt the need to adjust our days to match the other. And, since I went to work with the rest of our office, it never seemed like all that much had changed.
Being nine hours ahead of my current Seattle teammates, however, presents a new and unique remote challenge. I’m just a workday off from them, and my job now often requires more collaboration with both coworkers and clients than these others did. RF faces a similar situation. While we probably could force the issue of staying on a local workday, we both felt it only fair to be flexible, since our workplaces are being so flexible with us.
Last week, we struggled through the week, miserable with sleep deprivation and jet lag, adjusting to new surroundings, and adapting to different technologies on less than stellar network connections. We anticipated all of these things, but it’s completely different to be in the middle of it. Our immediate lesson learned was to build in a several day (or week!) adjustment period. As this is our first foray into this lifestyle, we wanted to be rock stars. Our first step at making that a success most definitely would have been to give ourselves just a little more time to get acclimated.
After a much needed lazy weekend, we’re feeling refreshed and re-energized and ready to tackle this thing head on! I’m sure we’ll stumble some more, but for now, we at least have a plan…
- We’ve agreed to a 1-9 or 2-10, or somewhere thereabouts, sleep schedule. Last week, I think we hit 1 am, 2 am, 4 am, and 5 am bed times, and not sequentially. We were all over the map, which made it all the more difficult to adjust.
- In addition to regular bedtimes, we’re also aiming to have a little downtime between work and sleep. It’s hard to turn your brain immediately off. No, impossible. If I wasn’t lying in bed thinking about work, I was dreaming about it. We have physical space from our offices, but we need mental space too.
- We’ve flipped our schedule from morning/afternoon to afternoon/night, and that means that we have to get up and get out. Whether it’s to have lunch, to sightsee, or just get a little fresh air, we have to make it happen earlier in the day. As soon as we log on and our coworkers are there, we’re pretty well in for the night.
Like I said, it’s a plan. We’ll see how well it works out. It is weird to go to work here as it’s getting dark. It’s odd to not to head straight to work when we get up in the morning. It’s disconcerting to work until bedtime…well, almost until bedtime! But, I think we’re getting the hang of it. And, the dividends are already paying off. Here are a few pics of how we spent our morning…