Defining "work hours"

December 12 2006

I guess I should have anticipated this would happen eventually.  Yesterday, I received an invite for a conference call with some other IBMers at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Taking calls late or early isn't uncommon in a worldwide sales role -- I occasionally speak with colleagues in Germany or Australia or the like during their working hours.  But this was the first time that everyone on the meeting invitation was in a US time zone -- meaning the call was after 5 PM for everyone.

The call occurred while I was on the Chicago - Vancouver flight, so I couldn't make it.   The topic was important, though, and if I was on the ground, I would have liked to have participated.  But at what cost?  Would I have interrupted my daughter's bedtime routine to take a call?  Probably not.  Would I have asked for it to be rescheduled during "working hours"?  I don't know, as there were six other people on the invitation.  Would I have inquired as to why the call was being held so late?  Absolutely.

I wonder if this is the evolution of the mobile office, world-is-flat environment.  Or maybe it was a one-off, gotta-get-this-done-this-year request.  Or maybe someone on the call was travelling, and this was the only possible time (in which case, perhaps it should have been in the meeting invitation details).  Any which way, I was definitely surprised -- and am wondering what it means for work-life balance implications in the future.

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