Institute News28

on Timezones

Evan Leybourn reflects on the reality of working remotely across timezones

Evan Leybourn

May 4, 2019


As inevitable--and as welcome--as tax season, Daylight Savings Time emerged upon us all last month. If that weren’t enough, we had the pleasure of two time-shifts. Australia moved back and Europe and America moved forward. Thus, those of us living south of the equator effectively lose, not 1, but 2 hours with the rest of the world. And, like trying to invite friends for dinner, no one can agree on a common date.

Trying to figure out what time it is before you call someone is like trying to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit while your house is burning.

The Business Agility Institute is a global organisation. We have members in 34 countries around the world and active volunteers in almost as many countries. Coordinating that many timezones is as complex as figuring out what’s happening in Primer.*

But there is a very real consequence of this. Since March, email conversations now take weeks. If someone from America emails me during their day, I will receive that at 6am in Australia. If I'm lucky, I can respond immediately; however, my life does not revolve around the Institute. Between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. is time I spend with my daughter . . . waking her up, getting her ready for school, find her hiding in her bed, making her lunch, and generally being a father. By 9:00 a.m. when I am back home, the United States East coast has already left for the day, and there's barely an hour left on the West coast. So, by the time they see my response 24 hours have already passed.

My only workaround is to default to video conversations. Generally, I would prefer to avoid meetings, but the ability to have a conversation with somebody, create something, and make a decision at that moment cannot be overstated.

Alas, there's no great insight in this article . . . just simply sharing some of the challenges we face running the Institute.

* My only time-machine joke in this article. I’m so proud.

- Evan, 3 May, 2019

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