Why Time Zones Are the New Geography for Workers
After applying for a job in 2019, the first question many job candidates got asked is, “Are you local?” Because of the time and expense of relocation, employers often found local candidates more desirable. With 44% of the U.S. workforce working fully remotely since the dawn of COVID-19 (up from 17% in 2019), an employee’s physical location isn’t so important anymore. Instead, employers now want to know, “What time zone are you in?” In fact, at eHire, about three quarters of our clients who are open to remote workers are asking us to find qualified candidates in the same (or similar) time zone. For example, if the company is based in the Eastern time zone, they only want to interview candidates in the Eastern and Central time zones. Why?
Despite Vaccines, Remote Work Continues
With a significant percentage of the workforce now vaccinated, many are beginning to return to work … but remote work isn’t going anywhere. As companies are realizing more remote workers allow them to save money on office infrastructure, many are deciding to increase remote work and let go of office space, like outdoor retailer REI. The company made the bold move of deciding to sell it’s brand new, eight-acre corporate campus in Washington state.
Twitter, Facebook, and Square have all told employees they can now work from home indefinitely. A Gartner CFO survey revealed almost three-fourths of CFOs plan to shift at least some of their workers to remote work permanently, and according to Accenture, 63% of high-growth companies use a hybrid work model. Since many work-from-home employees aren’t wanting to return to full-time office work in the wake of vaccines, hybrid work is trending. Almost half of employees said they would turn down a job offer that mandated full-time office work.
As companies are now far more willing to hire remote workers (52% before COVID, versus 88% now), what’s on the top of employers’ minds are the time zones that may interfere with remote work. Here are a few reasons they’re wanting workers to be “longitudinally desirable.”
1. Better Collaboration
If a company depends on collaboration by its workers, matching time zones means they can make sure their employees have access to one another at least 8 hours a day. It’s easy to hop on Zoom calls and get feedback on projects you’re working on together. Email is 34 times less effective than face-to-face communication, and as a result, teams who need to collaborate take advantage of working over an open Zoom line … instead of sending a message and then waiting hours for someone to respond.
2. More Responsiveness
Workers who don’t need so many face-to-face meetings still get questions answered quickly when working in the same time zone. If you’re in Eastern but your coder is in Pacific time, they’re obviously not going to answer you if you message them at 9:00 a.m., because it’s 6:00 a.m. their time.
3. Everyone Works Normal Hours
Let’s say you hire across multiple time zones, but you require everyone to work the same hours, or be available for meetings that may be scheduled at any time during the home office’s business hours. This means your workers who are anywhere from two to a few hours behind or ahead of you will end up working some crazy hours. They may end up with 5:00 a.m. business calls or 9:00 p.m. meetings. The odd hours could make for a rough work schedule and it might not be practical for employees to keep up long-term.
4. Better Coworker Mingling and Morale
Company culture is important for most businesses. It’s not just about turning out a product; the work is about being a part of something greater. It’s hard for an employee to really feel like they’re a part of that something if they don’t ever get to socialize or share jokes at the “watercooler” with coworkers. Businesses are finding ways to maintain company culture within remote work systems by using chat apps like Slack, but it’s definitely more difficult. Working in different time zones makes it even more difficult.
5. You Have to Draw the Line Somewhere
What if an employer didn’t limit hiring by time zones and they hired people anywhere? That company could end up with employees all over the world. Then, what happens when a few members of a team are all in different time zones? They could schedule a meeting where two don’t show up because they thought they were meeting at 2:00 Eastern Time, not 2:00 London time. Or, someone could warn his teammates he’d be out of office by 1:00 p.m. his time, but the team members estimated the time difference wrong and still thought they had an hour to contact him with important questions. Time zones are merciless; there will always be issues when working across them, and drawing the line somewhere limits the craziness.
eHire’s team of tech industry experts networks across time zones to connect with highly-qualified candidates throughout the U.S. Whether you need to fill remote positions or bolster your hybrid tech workforce, we can provide you with the right prospect to meet your specific and necessary requirements. Contact us to get started.