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What should be my working hours be as the only non American person in the team?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Microsoft2 months ago

I’ve recently had my first 1:1 meeting with my manager, and we touched upon several critical points that I believe will shape my journey here. Additionally, I learned that my assigned mentor is based on the East Coast, which adds an interesting dynamic to my collaboration and learning opportunities.

After the meeting, when discussing working hours through the chat, my manager inquired about my preference. Considering the timezone difference and aiming for effective collaboration with my East Coast-based mentor, I’m contemplating proposing a work schedule from 12 PM IST to 12 AM IST. This would roughly translate to 1:30 PM EST currently and 2:30 PM EST after daylight savings adjustments.

I’m eager to hear your insights on these matters, especially regarding the proposed working hours. Do you think this schedule is effective for cross-timezone collaboration? How would you recommend navigating these initial discussions and action points in a new role, considering the timezone alignment needs?

Your advice and shared experiences would be incredibly valuable to me.

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Discussion

(9 comments)
  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    My immediate reaction is that working 12 hours a day is too much. I know that some people are built different, but 60-hour weeks aren't sustainable from my experience.

    So after Daylight Savings, 9AM US East Coast should translate to 6:30PM IST right? So if you're working until midnight (2:30PM EST), you will have 5.5 hours where you can ask your mentor questions. This seems good.

    So I think a good window is 3PM IST to 12PM IST (1 hour break for dinner).

    I also recommend this playlist to help with remote work: [Taro Top 10] Growing Fast With Remote Work In Tech

  • 1
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 months ago

    The working hours you present to your team/manager should be only 8 hours (not 12 hours). And even within that, you may want to limit it to 3-4 hours which are explicitly for collaboration. (This will happen organically due to timezone.)

    The benefit is that you can have a high density of meetings in that window, and still have focus time.

    You can still work 12 hours/day if you want, but that decision is up to you based on workload and interest rather than an expectation.

  • 2
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Microsoft
    2 months ago

    Hi Rahul and Alex,

    Considering your valuable insights, I’m thinking of setting my work hours from 2 PM IST to 10 PM IST, with a small break in between. This should also align with lunch times for the mentor, providing a comfortable window for everyone involved.

    Do you think this schedule offers a practical overlap for collaboration, especially with mentors and team members in different time zones?

  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    Considering your valuable insights, I’m thinking of setting my work hours from 2 PM IST to 10 PM IST, with a small break in between.

    This cuts your collaboration time with your mentor, but you'll still have 3.5 hours, which is a lot. You also don't have to work until midnight (this isn't sustainable). I like it!

  • 0
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Microsoft
    2 months ago

    Thank you so much for your continued support and guidance. As I navigate working remotely with my first formal mentor, I'm seeking some guidance on how to best manage this relationship. Could you advise on how frequently I should aim to sync up with my mentor to ensure effective communication and guidance?

    Additionally, how explicit should I be in seeking feedback from him? I want to ensure I'm in good standing with my mentor and truly benefit from his experience and insights.

    Any tips on how to make the most of this mentoring relationship and perhaps even 'win over' my mentor would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for your help.

  • 1
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 months ago

    Could you advise on how frequently I should aim to sync up with my mentor to ensure effective communication and guidance?

    Ask them! Have a "meta conversation" where you discuss things like communication preferences: frequency of meeting, asynchronous updates, how often to ask for feedback, etc.

    How to make it a win for the mentor:

  • 0
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Microsoft
    a month ago

    Hi Rahul,

    I hope you’re doing well. I recently discussed setting up recurring 1:1 feedback sessions with my mentor to ensure I’m on the right track. He mentioned he would need to consult with his manager (who is also my current manager) to get a clearer idea of their expectations before confirming anything with me.

    I’m a bit unsure about this process. Is it common for mentors to consult with managers in this way before establishing a feedback schedule? I want to make sure I’m navigating this correctly and maintaining open lines of communication.

    Appreciate your insights on this.

  • 0
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Microsoft
    a month ago

    Adding a gentle reminder.

  • 2
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago

    Nothing seems off to me. Oftentimes your mentor may not know your level or goals. And they want to sync with your manager to ensure you're on the same page.

Microsoft is an American technology corporation which produces computer software, consumer electronics, and personal computers. It developed the Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers. Microsoft is often credited for ushering in the modern PC era.
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