For the past year, I have been alternating working from PST and EST time zones. I have worked from EST for 2 to 4 weeks at a time. I have generally had a smooth experience doing this both when I was working at Meta and now while working at Cruise. I wanted to share my experiences with others who are considering doing the same.
My Initial Concerns
These were some of my initial concerns; for the most part, they have been manageable.
Permission from Company
Cruise has a Cruise Flex working policy and my team is not required to go to the office. In fact, my team is distributed so it wouldn't even be possible for us to all gather at one office.
Permission from Manager
I ran it by my manager in advance to see if it would be okay for me to work from EST. He was okay with me working local hours (EST hours) as long as I didn't have team obligations or meetings after end of day EST.
I was concerned about missing some important meetings or collaboration times with teammates. There was one week where I had meetings scheduled at 4pm and 4:30pm PST so I stayed online until 8pm EST. It sucked particularly because it was in the winter, so it got dark by 5pm. Since then, most of my meetings have happened to end by 5:30pm EST and it's nice because in the summer I can get out and enjoy the sun (if it's not a cloudy day in Pittsburgh).
There are still some lingering challenges.
Less Impromptu Collaboration Time with PST
Most of our team's meetings are clustered in the middle of the day, and when I'm on PST we sometimes use the 2:30pm - 5pm PST period to get on impromptu Slack huddles to discuss problems or help each other out. I miss out on some of these huddles.
Despite challenges, there are also some benefits.
More Collaboration Time with EST
Two of my teammates are on +2 and +4 PST (2 hours ahead of PST), and several coworkers on different teams who I collaborate with are on EST. This has made it beneficial for EST morning huddles and meetings, before teammates on PST are up.
Code Reviews Before Deployment Cutoff Time
We have deployments on most days of the week with cutoff times at 8am PST. Traditionally, many teammates have rushed to get code reviewed before 8am PST, which is difficult when people do not typically start work until 9am PST. While working on EST, I have been able to help unblock teammates by reviewing code before 11am EST (8am PST).
No Meetings in the Morning
It has been nice not having meetings in the morning, particularly since I am a morning person and focus very well on coding and other tasks. My intern worked from EST for a bit and he also enjoyed having the time to himself in the morning to write code.
Working from Coffee Shops
Sometimes I like to change up the scenery and work from a coffee shop while I am on EST. Unlike when I am on PST, this is feasible on EST because I do not have meetings and do not have to worry about background noise.
Would I recommend working from a different time zone? Sure! If your team allows it. If you're a morning person like me it's feasible to get work done in the morning and then focus on meetings in the second half of the day. If you prefer sleeping in, then EST might work even better for you; you just won't have any daylight by the end of your work day.