Timezones, religious holidays or folklor habits are what make our world interesting. What’s normal for us, is weird to others. The globalisation of business has created a diverse melting pot of people, blending, meshing and uniting different cultures. Is there such a thing as disturbance during non-working hours anymore? Not really. The overlap of hours, national, religious and cultural holidays has blurred the line between private and professional time, creating some questions around availability and professionalism.
As an entrepreneur working with clients on different timezones, when do you have some private time? If you are unavailable when your clients and colleagues are available, does that make you unprofessional?
Here’s what experience has taught us. Being an entrepreneur is a very challenging and demanding profession. It requires the investment of considerable time, both office hours and personal time. There are no weekends or holidays. You may chase a client or a project for months on end. Can you really afford to lose them because you decided to shut off your phone for a weekend or not reply to emails for a few days in a row? Every day, every hour and every interaction you have with the client might be the breakthrough, the one meeting or email that gets the client to work with you.
Being available and connected 24/7 has become an innate part of the modern-day entrepreneur. Mobile phones have become workstations with people answering emails on their lunch break, attending conference calls while they are driving and looking at reports while they are walking their dog. One could argue that entrepreneurs have a fear of missing out, never parting from their phone or laptop. The rat race never stops.
Which brings us to the next point of contention – is that healthy? We understand that in order to progress as an entrepreneur and achieve something, you need to sacrifice a lot. How much is enough, though? Where is the balance between work, life and personal time?
We are all humans after all, and we need to eat, sleep, spend time with our loved ones, invest some time in ourselves and have some fun. The way modern business has evolved, balancing a successful career with all of the above is becoming more and more challenging.
It is our advice, belief and position that entrepreneurs should not be ashamed, scared or reluctant to stand by their right to personal time. What our experience has taught us is that clients and colleagues learn to respect that. As long as you are professional about it, inform people about your time off and answer politely to their requests, you are covered. It breeds a sense of respect for each other’s time.
If anything, we believe that sharing your schedule and your need to go away with your clients is a way to connect with them. It brings out your human side and opens new avenues of communication. You could talk about family, hobbies, trips away and so many other things that can strengthen your professional bond.
Now regarding timezones, religious holidays or folklor habits, this is something that can be resolved with meticulous scheduling. Add these events on your calendar and be mindful of your clients’ culture, location and private time and you can easily navigate that relationship and be less disturbing. Nothing a good Google search and a calendar application can’t resolve.
Here you have it. A very friendly, direct and casual breakdown of how to navigate the multicultural, globalised and dynamic business environment we operate in.
Privacy and respect, love and understanding of fellow human beings is a trend that will never go out of fashion.
By Natalia Bredneva Konstantinides