I’ve been in Hong Kong for two weeks and it’s been interesting, to say the least. Part of the fun is working in a time zone that is 14 hours ahead of our headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. Last night I had a phone call at 10 pm. This morning I had one at 7 am. My cell phone sometimes rings at 3 am. I respond to emails while my clients are sleeping, and they often send me emails while I’m sleeping. And yet it all has worked out better than I expected. There have been some minor inconveniences, but for the most part it’s business as usual.

In some ways this working arrangement has improved things. While in Utah I sometimes worked late because I could work without interruption and I was a lot more productive. Now I feel that way during the “normal” workday here in Hong Kong. I can work and work without getting interrupted. I send off emails, and when I wake up I have responses. I can see how this would be a challenge if we had an emergency, but with most work, even when I was in the US, there was often a 24+ hour turnaround on emails I would send to clients, so this is no different.

The greatest challenge seems to be dealing with perspective. There can be a perception that because someone is far away, and in a different time zone, that they’re harder to communicate with. Yes, if someone calls me while I’m sleeping I may be a bit groggy at first, but it’s no different than if someone called me during the day in Utah and I happened to be taking a nap. And my clients are welcome to wake me up anytime. That’s for me to deal with, not them. My fear is that some clients will hesitate to call or email because of this perceived “distance”, but it really it just that, a perception. Because in reality the technology we have available to us makes me just as close as I ever was, given that most of my business has been conducted via email and phone rather than in person. I can even be reached on my US cell number just as easily as when I was in the US.

If you have experiences working across time zones and tips you’d like to share, please do. I’m still early in this experiment and I don’t know what I don’t know.