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  • Working contracted hours only: global roles?
  • reluctantlondoner
    Full Member

    There have been some threads about working patterns on here, and I love that there are some militant folks on STW who stick strictly to their contracted hours. I would love to be one of those people…

    I work (mostly from home) in a global role which means I have Asia calls in the morning, Europe during the day and then the USA late afternoon. I spend my life on Zoom and I need to shake it up.

    My current mega-corp employer celebrates a long hours culture – I need to escape it, which will mean no STW during the day I guess.

    So, those who stick to the hours and no more:

    • Are you super focused?
    • How do you do it?
    • Do you slack at all during the day, or are you go-go-go at all times?
    • Do you work fixed hours, or do you do it on the basis of accumulated hours (i.e. early finish if you have a 7am call with Asia?)
    Full Member

    I think me and you have very very different jobs (and expectations)… I wouldn’t like yours.

    Free Member

    * Have your available hours in your calendar
    * make it clear that out of hours comms wont be read. reply to any at 9am (or whatever) on the dot
    * work at your normal pace, sometimes fast when your brain is in the zone, less when its not
    * dont be a dick, if something is genuinely urgent / important then get on with it out of hours
    * if workload exceeds your hours frequently, communicate that, come back with expected etas and ask which item should be first / last
    * align incentives by negotiating an overtime rate

    Full Member

    I think it’s about accepting you can’t do everything, there will always be more work than hours so it’s not a case of time management or focus. It’s prioritisation and accepting some things will slide. Also depends a lot on the company ethos, I’m lucky whilst I work longish hours I do get some flexibility in return from my boss, I needed an afternoon off a couple of weeks ago and had no leave left, it wasn’t a problem.

    And yes if I had a 7am call I wouldn’t feel too guilty about finishing at 4pm instead of 6pm or whenever, might not even be the same day. I’ll work longer if I’m still motivated, makes it easier to accept I’m not always 100% on my game and not beat myself up about it.

    Ultimately it’s not the hours you put in, it’s the contribution you make.

    Edit good advice above but if the culture isn’t right you’re in deep trouble trying to implement it, working longer / flexible hours sometimes comes with the territory, don’t like it change employers, you won’t change them by working to rule.

    Free Member

    Know your worth. Earning loads is great and everything, but if you’re working all the hours and are effectively earning little over minimum wage, what’s the point?

    Set those boundaries.

    Full Member

    Output judged rather than time present or online/ in meetings, this leads to the flexibility mentioned above.

    Global roles are a long way above my pay grade, but I always assume (and hope I’m wrong) that those in these positions are paid ££££ to work every hour of the day and night and that’s the lifestyle they chose.

    As I said I hope I am wrong and there are companies and cultures where good employees are rewarded with an hours/ responsibilities ratio that works!

    Free Member

    As I said I hope I am wrong and there are companies and cultures where good employees are rewarded with an hours/ responsibilities ratio that works!

    They tend to be small and mission focused. I’ve scaled startups and often they are very high trust environments in the beginning, then become less so as they hire more and more people and piss-takers turn up and ruin it for everyone.

    Full Member

    Had similar years ago – suppliers from Japan to W Coast USA so they combined to an almost 24h working day. I had some flexibility but made it clear that a 7am or 9pm call was only in exceptional circumstances. There were people dedicated to each supplier so they handled the daily relationship by time shifting (and for example the people in Japan generally worked to a later pattern to give more overlap with the UK team and the teams in the US would do the odd early call to fit a sensible UK time)

    Basically a little bit of flexibility from everyone made the whole thing easier to manage, and I generally kept to sensible hours as a result.

    But as others have said, if the organisation’s culture is around long hours then you’ve got a much bigger fight.

    Full Member

    I can’t escape working outside of typical “business hours”. I’m a member of 2 teams that have west coast US members, as such 5-6pm is a hot time for meetings and not all meetings can fit into that slot because physics. There is very much a strong environment of trust though, no-one is looking at what hours I work – they only care that the work that needs to be done is getting done.

    Full Member

    which will mean no STW during the day I guess.

    Blimey you have time for that in your current job?

    Full Member

    I think me and you have very very different jobs (and expectations)… I wouldn’t like yours.

    This +1000. OP might get paid a fair bit, but it doesn’t sound he enjoys it. Whats the point?

    Full Member

    It depends on your role but in my organisation people are expected to work outside standard UK business hours  but there is some flexibility for people not to be at their desk 24/7, take time off during the day. Also for folks with a WFH job with some travel, they get days in lieu for weekend travel.

    Unfortunately my contract just says “hours required”

    Full Member

    I close the print-shop door and go home!

    I’m a one-man band though so control my own work.

    Very few customers have my mobile number and I never answer work emails out of working hours now.

    I used to try and please everyone, but the ones that phone you at 8.30pm on a Friday night aren’t the sort of customers I want. Despite my fears the business hasn’t collapsed since I adopted this policy.

    Not sure how you escape odd hours working for global companies! I’d say it comes with the job.

    Free Member

    I happened to listen to an unrelated podcast, and the woman being interviewed touched on this.

    It was quite a US centric view, but she took the stand that businesses are there to use employees as much as they possibly can, and it’s up to employees to set the boundaries. Her own personal example, as someone very senior who dealt with global teams, was she set hours where she was unavailable throughout the day to do her own personal stuff. Her main example being 5-7PM was family time, but if required to talk with Asia, she would be available after 7PM.

    Free Member

    Briefly, when I did this as a consultant I’d just keep an eye on what I was doing and take the time back at some point convenient.

    I set my working hours in outlook to stop people booking meetings. If I was up early to talk to someone I’d block out the end of the day or visa versa.

    Ultimately I left as I realised it wasn’t the job for me and I like a life/work balance.

    Full Member

    The company I work for do the same. But in my case I haven’t done it in while as currently I don’t mange any accounts from either the US or Asian sides.

    A colleague is currently stuck in that loop and manages to fit his days between kids to and from school. He insists on no starts or finishes 2 hours before or after his contracted working hours. He blocks out the school run so no one can book a meetings and on the days where he does start early and finish’s late, he’ll take a two hour lunch break and go to the swimming pool.

    So it can be done. You have to be strong!

    Full Member

    I am in a similar role but it works fine for me. It helps that my head office is in Copenhagen and we spend more time talking to the US than APAC so the Danes are one hour ahead of me and don’t want to work all night. The Nordics also have a reasonable work life balance so there is no pressure to work all hours. We have the right to dissent and I can avoid unreasonable requests in most cases.

    Like thepurist 7am and 9pm is in exceptional circumstances. All US calls are between 3pm and 5/6pm. 7.30am calls happen every couple of weeks on average due to the Danish start times.

    I have no issue finishing and hour or two early on the odd day to compensate a bit but I do not work to a set number of hours

    Full Member

    I mostly WFH though carry out local (within a 30 mile radius) client visits 3 or 4 days a week. I’m contracted for 40 hours. I’m sure my contract says something along the lines of “extra hours as may be deemed necessary at busy times blah blah”.

    I basically work my hours (I think, nobody counts), and mostly when I want to work them. Official office hours are 9 to 5 but I tend to do more like 8 to 4 and sometimes finish earlier to walk the dog, ride my bike or get outside jobs done in the daylight, then log back on again later. I generally do longer days in the summer than the winter as the site stuff is busier seasonally, but it averages out over the year. Some of my colleagues seem to strive on the stress of being busy, behind with stuff, giving themselves a big pat on the back for bringing in surplus income, and then having to do lots of (unpaid) overtime to service it. All that despite there being no incentive in terms of bonuses, actual pats on the back from anyone else, or promotion. That isn’t me, I just aim to do as much as I can as well as I can in the time available, and that’s about 40 hours.

    The key for me is managing expectations (of clients and colleagues), being organised, using lists, setting targets for the day/week, planning ahead, and trying to maximise productivity when I’m feeling my best. If I’m feeling tired/sluggish/unproductive I just stick to simple boring stuff and save the more taxing tasks for another day (or drink a lot of strong coffee first).

    There’s a lot to be said for a ‘power hour’ too; if it’s all dragging a bit then walk away for half an hour or an hour, go for walk or do a personal task that lifts you or gives some sense of achievement, then set a timescale for a task or number of tasks that you want to complete, and smash it out with total concentration. And then, if you can, finish early or see any additional completed tasks as a bonus!

    Full Member

    As someone who is drafting a response to a ministerial complaint from a guy who has an issue that I went on holiday rather than work on his case…..

    More seriously, I’m contracted to do 30 hours a week over 4 days. We have flexible working. I’m always at least 6 hours up on my hours. I may takeva long lunch/ride/workout if it suits me and doesn’t impact work, or to make up for any late finishes, and I often filter emails on a Sunday to save time on the Monday morning after my 3 day weekends.

    Free Member

    I think the OP suffers from a nasty combination of a ‘long hours’ culture and disparate time zones.

    Do you like your job? Is it interesting? Would you do it another five years?

    Do they pay you a sihtload – and mean a decent lump, not 5 figures, and is there a way out to normal hours?

    I sometimes really have to put the hours in, but the other questions work out for me, so it’s OK .  I have a friend who has to talk to the US alot, and is too scared to say no to his mega corp managers when they set stupid meeting times.  He suffers for this… and the job goes nowhere..

    Full Member

    when my wife had a global team the people in asia were really pleased that she didn’t make them get out of bed for a meeting in the middle of the night.

    it turned out that the US managers would schedule meetings in their work hours and expect people to attend regardless. you could try that.

    Full Member

    Global corporate worker with meetings in UK business hours and occasional evenings to end no later than 10 PM. Was much more common during COVID when the world was working from home with little else to do. If I work late, I just start late the next day, or vice versa. If I’m doing actual science rather than the day job, that’s play time anyway for me, so I and my employer are flexible.  Work more hours than contracted, but am typing this from the velodrome. I have a meeting from 6-7 and will work later this evening when I get back to TiRed Towers. Rule 1 isn’t it?

    Outlook can put focus time in your calendar. Apparently I’m focusing from 8-10 every morning. It’s a decent tool.

    Full Member

    US or UK company? big difference.

    Free Member

    Tough one, depens on sniority and type of role, but you cant burn the candle at both ends.  Im pretty much fully spent due to travel and working weekends (i knew this year was going to be a hard one), and it’s taken it’s toll in more ways thean just general tiredness. I think the best you can realistically do, is just not have a US and ASIA call all in the same day and stagger them – i have to do the same (US and Korea, though the later is now tailing off).  I do take the view of “give and take”, if i need a few hours break during a day for whatever reason i’ll do it.

    Full Member

    i work for a US company with teams in India. I work it by doing evenings 2 days a week (so I don’t feel bad about refusing calls other evenings) and then dossing off on bike rides/surfs/hanging out with my kids other days of the week so I do approx the right number of hours. Works well for me (no night rides any more), and well for the company

    Free Member

    I log on at 06.30, log off at 16.00 – take Fridays off

    Currently working with Kazakhstan, India and Canada based teams from UK.

    If they cant work in my hours I regularly tell them they can shove it. They havent shoved me yet….

    Full Member

    I sometimes do an early or late call and have no qualms about taking the time back later. But then I can be pretty flexible anyway.

    I know it can be hard to influence others towards it but I’m a fan of the Basecamp founders’ approach to comms – their book or articles like their internal comms guide. I try to use that where I can, flesh out and write up ideas and let people digest before jumping straight into discussing, and trying to get others to do the same rather than starting out with a call. Async as much as possible, which is extra important when you’re working across timezones.

    Full Member

    If you work over your contracted hours, are you paid for this? (Either as extra leave or overtime).

    I think that a culture of Hours as required rather than a specified time is always going to be to your detriment – unless of course you are on a very high wage and it comes with the job. 

    Free Member

    I am in a director level role that has teams across Europe, I point blank refuse any meetings outside my normal working hours.

    I will also not book meetings for any of my directs outside their normal hours.

    My boss who is the MD for Europe is very output focussed & has no time for presenteeism. I have to travel to our Euro offices quite a bit & he will always insist on me travelling in work hours, or if not, to take time back.

    I don’t think I would work for a company that was focussed on time behind a desk, rather than what I & my teams achieved.

    Full Member

    I think global roles are like that – I work for a large bank and the global banking roles often need early calls / late calls and largely it’s expected you do that.

    I’m in the UK part of the business and sometimes I have calls with AsiaPac countries / Europe / Americas that need early or late hours – but it’s almost never both on the same day. My role is relatively flexible in terms of when you work / where / how and they leave us to run our own diaries. It is hectic day to day, but mostly manageable.

    I hear from people at American banks that it’s not always the best and much less flexible. But less admin / more sales in their sales roles than we have.

    Perhaps try to find a more domestic centric role – or one with a specialisation in less world regions.

    I’m not strictly 9-5, I definitely work more than the hours mentioned in my contract most weeks. No overtime paid – the contract says you need to work the hours required. 

    If it’s busy / I have a tender or something similar then I tend to work a chunk more hours for a while – but then if it’s a bit quieter (say in the run to Christmas) then I’ll chill a little bit then.

    Full Member

    I work with teams across Europe, Japan and USA.

    I’ve blocked 0700-0830 and 1630-2100 in my calendar and refuse all invitations in those times unless critical. The meeting purpose should be clear and timing justified in the invitation.

    Any overtime is recorded and taken as holiday later on, or paid at 200%. I’ve also blocked an hour for lunch, but I’m flexible and will skip it if it means that I finish on time. It’s a good system.

    Despite all that, it doesn’t seem to affect my career too much. I’ve just been promoted!

    Full Member

    I used to lead a team in Shanghai, I was in Glasgow and if I needed a decision above my authority, I had to speak to someone in Philadelphia. It was a pain in the arse. 4am conference calls were brutal. Thankfully I’m fully UK focussed nowadays.

    Full Member

    I only work my contracted hours these days, unless it’s very close to a deadline that’s at risk of slipping (and I don’t think it’s caused by PM incompetence) or something’s broken and I need to assist with a fix (rare as I’m in a project role rather than support). Fortunately my company (although a large multi-national) doesn’t have a long-hours culture and our performance reviews don’t really reward it so little point even if you enjoy your work (I don’t :p ).

    A role that spans 12-16 hours of time zones needs more than 1 person in it, also curious how the OP gets any work done if they’re in Zoom calls all day, or is that all the role entails?

    Free Member

    It is possible to achieve a lot by rejecting calls, demanding calls be emails, and being more rigorous avout using Outlook as gatekeeper for your time. People don’t like to say no and end up being imposed upon. You can make things work within a team if you have a good manager

    But you also have to recognise that you’ll never change the culture of a whole company and ultimately they may shrug and let you knpw if you don’t like it you should piss off.

    align incentives by negotiating an overtime rate


    The meeting purpose should be clear and timing justified in the invitation.

    I’ve heard a few people say “no agenda, no attend-a”.

    Full Member

    My work have just moved us to four day week. 32 hrs over four days, no loss of pay. 

    Friday is now bike day. Its ace.

    Free Member

    I have a global role, direct reports in San Francisco, Shanghai and a couple of other development sites in China.

    One of the “rules” is that we arrange meetings that match local core working hours wherever possible, so San Fran used to get meetings from 7-9, and i would be 16-18 give or take. Lots of emails. Shanghai, i would get onto as soon as i got to the office, 8 am. (mid afternoon for them). This has worked (for me) for 8 years so far, in two roles.

    Actually quite freaked them out, as those working for both the US and Chinese organisations were used to being told when to work, and how long to do it for, 50-60 hour weeks. Swedish management turn up and start sending them home at 5, and making sure that they’re not working much over their 40 hours.

    I don’t even have official working hours, i am employed to complete tasks, approximately 160 hours worth of tasks a month.

    Full Member

    Remember the WTD still applies.  48 hour week, 11 hours between shifts, etc etc the 48 hours can be averaged out.  Its a useful thing to remind employers they are breaking the law

    Full Member

    Thanks all. Some interesting food for thought. 

    It seems it is definitely a cultural issue in the organisation, and that the organisation has no intention of solving it. It’s response is to make Headspace available and wellness information sessions, but essentially it means if you melt after a 60 hour week it’s your own fault… 

    Lolz at TJ – compulsory to sign a WTD waiver as part of the contract acceptance. 

    I do get paid okay, the work is interesting enough, but I’m at a point where I want to claim more of my life for me…

    Full Member

    Some parts of the WTD the waiver does not cover.  check the regs for fit to your situation.

    Free Member

     Its a useful thing to remind employers they are breaking the law

    hes not working for the local authority.

    mega corp doesn’t care – it’ll bin you without a second thought (and it wont be related to you making reference to the law – youll simply be performance managed out

    I just block out lunch and morning/evening when i was in a global role.

    i did have fun once when on rotation when out of rotation  i was called back middle of my 5 off  …. replied with a photo of the ferry sailing away from my campervan window.

    Like many on here – uk focused now with very few calls to the USA usually on my terms.

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