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The time zone problem: How to work with a global team and also sleep

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Are you still making your co-workers look at your cord-management issues in the background of your Zoom call? Cut that out and get some tips from the Room Rater Twitter account for making your video calls easier on the eyes. Today: teams and time zones, Salesforce sets more ambitious diversity goals for female and nonbinary employees, and Google extends its hiring freeze. It’s Sunday, so if you’re working, make sure you let yourself have a little bit of fun, as a treat.

— Meg Morrone, senior editor (email | twitter)

What time zone is it?

Work-from-anywhere policies are life-changing for employees, and they can simplify hiring. But unless everyone is in the same time zone, true collaboration can be tricky.

Here’s how the experts overcome some of the thorniest time zone challenges.

Embrace async work, but do it right.Asynchronous work can solve a lot of the headaches that come with working across time zones, and there’s no shortage of tools that can help you embrace this style of collaboration.

  • “The traditional 9-to-5 workday, where we're all working in the same place at the same time, is a thing of the past,” Ali Rayl, SVP of product management at Slack, told Protocol.
  • This requires training for leaders, says HubSpot’s hybrid culture enablement manager Meaghan Williams. "We’ve developed an ongoing series to provide managers with the tools and resources they need to lead a distributed team at scale. We focus on topics like proximity bias, inclusive hiring and psychological safety.”
  • “And some of our leaders include canned messaging in their email signatures that acknowledge that they’re sending an email at a time that’s convenient for them, but they don’t expect a response outside of the recipient’s working hours,” adds Williams.

Document everything. Remote workforce management company Oyster helps startups hire and onboard talent across 180 countries. Co-founder Jack Mardack told Protocol that the company is so proud of its hybrid-work best practices that they recently made the Oyster employee handbook public.

  • “When working synchronously — either in an office or remote — it's very easy to just walk over and ask other people for information,” Mardack said. “In a globally distributed team, this isn't always possible. So we need to ensure that other people have access to the information they need if you're not around. We’ve found the solution to be over-documentation.”
  • HubSpot takes a similar approach. “Our teams create ‘operating systems’ that include best practices for working together, including where to find shared internal documentation, links to video meeting recordings for later viewing, written agendas and more,” Williams from HubSpot told Protocol.

If total async work isn’t possible, find a few hours where workers can overlap. It’s crucial to avoid a culture where everyone is expected to be available in each other’s time zone. Rayl stresses that organizations need to be flexible.

  • “One thing we’ve done at Slack is to encourage our teams to set their own ‘core collaboration hours.’ Team members agree on a time span of a few hours each day (say, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT) when everyone on the team will be online and available for live conversations,” Rayl said.
  • Williams says they encourage everyone at HubSpot to make their working hours clear. She suggests employees add hours to their Google calendar and turn off Slack notifications when they’re done for the day. “Our team leverages schedule-send features to respect those boundaries and be empathetic to time differences,” says Williams.
  • Christine Lees, senior communications manager at the communications platform Intercom, calls this overlapping time “Golden Hours.” Intercom executives live on the U.S. West Coast and Dublin, which makes the Golden Hours 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 4 to 6:30 pm GMT. “We encourage employees to communicate with their managers and teams about their preferred work hours and speak up to find a better time (or ask for a recording) if they are invited to a meeting outside of them,” says Lees.

Be intentional about decision-making. Mardack from Oyster warns that group decisions can take a long time if people are working in different time zones.

  • “Treat decisions as reversible by default,” says Mardack. “Most decisions can be undone easily, and the negative effect of delaying a decision is often worse than the negative effect of making the wrong one.”
  • Choose one person to make a decision. “If it's proving difficult to make a decision, try to identify a decision owner — it's this person's responsibility to make the call. By being explicit about this early, we can save a lot of back and forth,” says Mardack.
  • Mardack says decisions don’t always have to come from the top. “Make decisions at the lowest level possible. Most decisions should be made by the people closest to the problem. This is rarely the CEO.”
— Meg Morrone, senior editor (email| twitter)

Salesforce sets new nonbinary and female employee diversity goals

This week Salesforce set new hiring and retention goals for nonbinary and female employees:

0.2% — Current nonbinary/other/undisclosed global employee gender representation at Salesforce
35.7% — Current female global employee gender representation at Salesforce
40% — Goal for female and nonbinary employees globally by 2026 at Salesforce


How cybercrime is going small time: Cybercrime is often thought of on a relatively large scale. Massive breaches lead to painful financial losses, bankrupting companies and causing untold embarrassment, splashed across the front pages of news websites worldwide.

Read more from Cisco

Some personnel news

Anyone else having a bad case of Great Resignation whiplash? It’s hard to keep up with which tech companies are growing, shrinking, floating or sinking. We’re here to help.

⬇️ Get ready for the vibe change: Google employees tell Insider that the company has extended its hiring freeze.

⬇️ Mindfulness is out. Meditation app Calm lets 400 employees go, citing (you guessed it) macroeconomic trends.

⬇️ In a memo to employees on Friday, Peloton announced more layoffs.

⬆️ Cloud software company Zoho is hiring in India. The company told Protocol that it's planning to hire at least 2,000 employees across engineering, technology and product development.

🧺 Microsoft cuts back, and it’s a real travesty: “At a recent picnic for one Microsoft team, managers paid for their employees’ food and drinks instead of billing the company,” a source told The Wall Street Journal.

For more news on hiring, firing and rewiring, see our tech company tracker.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

Everything you need to know about “quiet quitting”: when a worker decides they’re no longer defined by their work and takes back their free time.

LinkedIn (like everyone else right now) really wants you to be an influencer.

Why young people should be mentoring the olds.

Weekend long read: Will tech ever fix its gender problem?

Give this man a Pulitzer.


How cybercrime is going small time: People have been swindled since before man created monetary systems. These aren’t new crimes; just new ways to commit them. But as cybercrime increasingly goes small-time, those on the front lines will need new and more effective ways to fight it.

Read more from Cisco

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