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The good and the bad about working through a time difference

Words by: Carson Tabakin, PR Executive

It was a Friday in July 2022 when I called the number on Hooton’s website and asked if there were any job opportunities. I was about to move from New Jersey to Amsterdam, and I urgently needed to find work. Hooton didn’t have any positions listed, but something about the agency’s creative energy just felt right, so I took a deep breath and dialled the number anyway. Riding on a wave of nervousness, I completely forgot about the six hour time difference – catching Heloise just as she was leaving the office. Little did I know, this would set the tone for much of my first year.

When Heloise offered me a job a few months later, I could hardly wait to start. I could see myself buying a cup of tea from the cafe, or walking home along the canal to grab a quick lunch. Instead, visa regulations meant I had to return to the States to work remotely, and six months later, I’m still here.

But while navigating a fully remote position with a six hour time difference has been an interesting experience, thankfully Hooton is no stranger to international work. With clients spanning Europe, Asia and the US, they’re used to adapting to multiple time zones at once. And I like to think I’m getting the hang of it too.

The truth is, before I began working for Hooton, I wasn’t great at mornings. At first I thought the six hour time difference would be a massive challenge, but amazingly, I’ve come to love it. Every day I wake up eager to join my colleagues who have already been online for half the day. Sure, I’ve never felt excited about setting a 6:45 alarm, but, dare I say, over the past six months I have become a morning person.

After some sunlight exposure and downing a large cup of coffee, I start my day at 7.30am with meetings. We’ll chat about my previous night’s tasks and their mornings, before someone briefs me for the day ahead. Two-three hours of overlap later, my team signs off and I am left with a full schedule. It’s a funny dynamic – I’m usually fighting through ‘fuzzy morning’ brain while they’re pushing through ‘end of the day’ brain fog. Somehow we balance each other out.

The freedom to move at my own pace is something I’ve come to love. Of course, I often wish I had my co-workers available to bounce ideas off of or get a question answered, but this enforced independence has given me more confidence – I’m more decisive and have grown to trust my own judgement. It’s also forced me to create new habits to stay on task and keep myself in check. Something that has helped the most is leaving my phone in the other room and switching on Do Not Disturb. Holding myself accountable is hard, but I’m learning.

Thanks to Hooton’s hybrid schedule, I don’t experience too much FOMO (fear of missing out), but on the days when everyone is in the office or hanging out after work and I am a measly square on Google Meet, it’s impossible not to long for real-life connection. People energise me, so being the only team member who’s not in the heart of the action is my biggest challenge. I try to make sure I’m not too isolated, whether that means working from a local cafe or in the kitchen with my mom, but it doesn’t quite feel the same as an office.

Thankfully, even though I’m thousands of miles away, the Hooton team shows up for me everyday; making an effort to get to know me, check if things are running smoothly, remind me of my worth, and ensure that they will do anything they can to support me. I only graduated last year, and definitely did not anticipate that this would be the way I would be working, but it has provided me with new skills I know will prove invaluable as I progress in my career.

Sure, a canalside co-working space and cups of tea with colleagues would be nice, but this is the type of work culture I want to be part of as I grow in my career. Hooton has set the bar high!

Working for a Dutch company from the United States was never my plan, but it’s brought more ups than downs. It all boils down to the company and the clients. When you work with cool people doing cool things you genuinely enjoy, you can always find ways to adapt to the challenges and shape them into something positive. Straddling two time zones certainly has its moments, but if you stay transparent with your team, hold yourself accountable, and learn to make really strong coffee, everything else will fall into place.

June 09, 2023