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some thoughts please about working late?

(20 Posts)
bonesarecoralmade Mon 24-Mar-14 12:19:52

We work in London, our head office is on Pacific time - 8 hours behind.

They bought us relatively recently. Our head office was in NY, only 5 hours behind, which gives you all afternoon every day for conference calls. Pacific time means there is really only one hour a day for conference calls - their 9am is our 5pm.

I hesitate to frame this as a feminist issue because I don't want to buy into the idea that childcare is only for women. (In my case, I am lucky to have flexibility because my dp works locally and is always home for the dcs when I work late.) However, things being what they are, it does seem to be the mothers in our office who struggle with this. One in particular had working hours set as finishing at 5 to get to childcare at 6. This can't happen when we have team meetings. Realistically we do need 4 or 5 meetings a week, this is not one-off stuff.

I have found my LA colleagues, as individuals, very flexible and reasonable. I will work any time that makes sense, would rather get home for dc's bathtime and work later from home than miss them, and I can do that when working with a group over there, but we can't put in team meetings for 8pm UK time when they involve other UK people. I have also had calls with individual people working from home at 7.30am LA time. But the difficulty is team meetings - how can you schedule for 8 people, 4 each on either side of the world, without someone being put out?

My view is that we should be thinking more laterally. The assumption is that everyone will stay as late as they need to. I feel differently - I will put in the hours that I am needed to, but I don't want them always to be the precious one or two where my children are awake. And later evening time is actually more expendable to me from a family perspective.

It is outrageous to suggest that sometimes team meetings could be later, so all the UK people are dialling in at 8 or 9 pm?

What does everyone think?

ChunkyPickle Mon 24-Mar-14 12:40:24

I have to agree - staying late is much more inconvenient for me than making some time later on, and dialing in from home once I've had food and a sit down is surely more productive for most people than a grumpy call at the end of the working day.

I've worked on various teams sprinkled around the world, and I think the key is also to make sure the meeting doesn't drag on longer than it has to - zero tolerance on waffling, or coming unprepared to the meeting. That way when you dial in at 9 you know that it'll be brief and to the point.

ChunkyPickle Mon 24-Mar-14 12:43:01

On a feminist note, it winds me up that people who have partners at home don't think of these things when booking meetings at the end of the day (especially ones which are likely to overrun).

DP is OK at the moment because my being home enables him to stay late. Once I'm back at work, he's just going to have to excuse himself and leave sometimes though, and I know that will be frowned upon.

mermaidbutmytailfelloff Mon 24-Mar-14 12:54:38

I have a similar issue with geographical extremes and we tend to mix it around, so sometimes people work early, so call in at 6am, sometimes we can have conference calls at midnight. That way everyone gets the chance of more convenient times agains the bummer of really horrid times. It seems to work reasonably well

HollyMadison Mon 24-Mar-14 13:10:22

Was also going to suggest you mix up the times so sometimes the LA team do a 7 or 8am call and sometimes the uk team do a late call. I agree that 5/6/7pm can be very inconvenient - not just for childcare, people also often have sports/exercise/charity work commitments at that time.

Also, 4-5 meetings a week for 8 people seems pretty intense, whichever time zone people are in. Are there other ways of sharing knowledge eg electronically to reduce the frequency of concalls?

Also, although it sounds like it's an industry where people work to get the job done, not just to contractual hours, some people may feel that a change to contracted hours is being imposed on them.

CMOTDibbler Mon 24-Mar-14 13:19:56

We have the same issue, though worse as one group are gmt+2, so their day and PT don't overlap at all, and a lot in gmt+1.

The PT people always start early, either at their desks or from home to do meetings with europe. I'm happy to meet at 8 or later, but don't do between 5.30 and 7.30 unless its absolutely essential.

If you really need so many team meetings, I'd ask that pt dial in early twice a week, and gmt do 8pm twice a week, and then try and organise those days to suit everyones schedules. But those out of hours meetings should result in some banked time to use for Drs/dentists/school plays or whatever as they are regular

bonesarecoralmade Mon 24-Mar-14 13:56:27

Thank you all.

It's not the same group talking 5 times a week - it's more various different team meetings that take place across different groups.

I suppose what I am havering about is that as well as trying to find convenience across different time zones, it is also about finding convenience across different life styles.

Also that they are our head office so to some extent call the shots.

I would like to vary the convenience / inconvenience but it is a bit "who will bell the cat?" because someone has to suggest it.

BranchingOut Mon 24-Mar-14 13:57:39

This is a tricky one.

Looking back to my pre-child working days, I would have been willing to do something at 8 or 9 pm, but only on an occasional basis. I think once you get much beyond something finishing at 10.00 you are veering into people's hours of sleep.

Also, not everyone's child goes to bed on the dot of 7pm (mine always had a later sleep cycle), so 8pm or 9pm also might not work for other parents.

I think the LA office have to be willing to do a regular 7.30 or 8.00am meeting. But, best of all, would be fewer meetings and some kind of technological meeting space solution.

expatinscotland Mon 24-Mar-14 14:13:30

Why are they starting at 9am? Most US offices outside NYC and the northeast have 8am starts.

US childcare tends to start earlier, too, with many day cares open from much earlier than here.

I'd go with remote office so those in the UK and US, if need be, can do the team meetings from home.

bonesarecoralmade Mon 24-Mar-14 14:29:29

Branching - I know, evenings really aren't great. My dcs would barely be in bed by 8 (partly because they wait for me to get home for their story, etc) and basically this lovely schedule that I have laid out for myself means I don't eat or get an hour off before it's time to go to bed. So no one else is going to like that either!

I do find working from home in the evenings does make me more strung out than I expect. I find it really hard to decompress. Now I think about it, it is usually after a run of nights like this that I get ill.

I had a horrible long conversation with someone who didn't really get what I was talking about in a Sainsburys car park 2 weeks ago at about 9pm. She had all the time in the world, apparently, to ask questions that I had explained before on email, but found it easier to get me to explain everything verbally on her time. I got home, unpacked the shopping, dp was in bed early at 10.30 for some reason, and I just sat feeling tired and miserable on my own for an hour, too tired to cook, too stressed to go to bed. I was ill a couple of days later.

expat, interesting that 8 is a normal start time - really? Some of them seem to think that 9 is pushing it. Interesting.

What makes it harder to address is that they all work long hours. I think unnecessarily long - they have lots more staff than we do, including support staff, but a genius for going round the houses and making things take for ever. They love downloading, printing and filing things too

Nocomet Mon 24-Mar-14 14:32:38

DH used to do conference calls to the States at 9pm. Worked brilliantly, got home to see the children and then disappeared into the study when they were in bed and all was quiet.

LongPieceofString Mon 24-Mar-14 14:34:24

It's very difficult. Does it totally have to be done by phone? Could you have some sort of email handover thingy?

My children are usually at activities in the evening now they're a bit older so I'd struggle dialling in at 8pm say.

Could the LA team start at 8am sometimes?

DebbieOfMaddox Mon 24-Mar-14 14:51:05

It is tricky. I was dealing with this for the last year before I went on ML with DC3 -- in theory I was working part-time hours 9am-2pm every day (hours set when I was working with UK and European team only) but then the Pacific time zone people only really came onstream around mid-afternoon UK time. The hassle of juggling that was one reason (although only one reason) I didn't go back after ML that time.

I would have much preferred to do calls from home later in the evening -- in fact relatively often did that when working on bids with a UK/European team and we'd have a wrap-up call for the day in the evening. Late afternoon/early evening calls when I actually had children awake and in need of supervision were a pain. But at the same time I wouldn't want late evening calls every day for months on end -- every day for a couple of weeks was OK, or once or twice a week on an ongoing basis.

Minnieisthedevilmouse Mon 24-Mar-14 16:23:46

Is there a better way to organise communication? I mean forget times for a second. You see to me it sounds like a lot of information needs better transmission. It sounds like smaller conversations need to occur with better message passing from that to seniors/decision makers and back.

If you can't make the present system fit the time, change the method of communication (time stays the same).

Potentially more delegation and more responsibility at lower level needed. And more trust.

PrincessOfChina Mon 24-Mar-14 16:31:05

What a pain. I really feel for you. I work globally, but fortunately our head office is in the North West of the US, so only 6 hours behind us which gives us a good couple of days a week.

I currently make it clear that I have two days a week where I can be flexible with start/end times. On the other days, I'm in at 8:30 and have to be gone by 5:30. Previously, I've started my working day later and finished later or, if working with AP, started much earlier and finished earlier. Working from home on those days makes a big difference.

PrincessOfChina Mon 24-Mar-14 16:32:02

Bah- what I meant in my first paragraph was we have a good couple of hours a day overlap. They do start v early in the States in my experience. 8am seems like a late start to them.

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 24-Mar-14 16:33:36

Can't you all do it by video conferencing? We were VCing from home 12 years ago - we all bought little cameras and now they are mostly built in anyway.

So do a VC at 9pm Uk time.

EBearhug Mon 24-Mar-14 22:23:31

I work for a global company, so we have to accommodate both sides of the US and AsiaPac. It means sometimes some of us are on calls late, and some of us early. I much prefer 10:30pm than 06:30am, but actually, either is easier than when I'd normally be driving. I am also a lot able to be more flexible on some days than others - it all goes round, and if it's hard for me some days, it's hard for other people other days.

(On bad days, I am not this positive about it all, I admit...)

PenguinsEatSpinach Tue 25-Mar-14 16:47:49

Just a quick comment from me by I agree with Expat. I worked a lot with Californians, and they always saw 8am as their start time and it was pretty common to schedule calls for 8/4 (the bugger is when the clocks change, as for a week we are even more out of whack and it's 8/5 or 9/6). It sounds to me like they want to get settled into their day before their call and not have to have a 'hard deadline' start time?

I also agree with mixing up the call times. Sometimes they should be willing to do a 7am, sometimes you should be willing to do an 8 or 9 pm dialling in.

I'm actually a bit surprised that you are finding such a difficulty, both because most Californians I work with have been early birds, and because anyone who works worldwide from Californian a lot tends to be used to these scheduling issues and is just grateful you aren't one of the even trickier time zones!

I read an interesting piece recently by Robert Peston all about one of the reasons London because so prominent in the financial markets was precisely because our time zone lets us work with lots of countries without massive, massive inconvenience.

bonesarecoralmade Thu 27-Mar-14 09:41:58

"anyone who works worldwide from California" - this is the issue, they recently acquired us and have not had a European operation before.

Thanks for all your thoughts.
I think what I am up against here is partly just nobody having enough time full stop, not what time of the day they have it at, too.

I don't think I can be the one to make a huge issue of this but I appreciate your thoughts and have thrown them into the long-term-ruminations-process

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