Companies Are Discriminating Against Remote Workers: Time-Zone Prejudice

People are being asked to work longer hours and pick up other teams' slack, all because of their time zone. Tyler Le/Insider 

When interviewing for a job at a creative agency based on the West Coast, Jane was assured she could work East Coast hours. But almost immediately after she started the job, the expectations shifted. Jane, whose name has been changed since she still works in the same industry and fears being blacklisted for negative comments, said coworkers expected her to respond to Slack messages in the morning and late at night and she was invited to meetings well after her working hours ended, she told me. “I was expected to be responsive 24/7,” she said.

In the age of remote work, many people have left coastal hubs for more affordable cities across America. This means many more workers are in different time zones from their coworkers, bosses, and companies. And some employees have felt they have been exploited because of their differing time zones, being expected to take on extra work.

Other employees I spoke with said it felt as if working hours had no meaning in the remote world and that they were “on call” more than before, often because of their time-zone difference. While working remotely offers benefits that often weren’t available in a pre-pandemic world, such as living in less busy or less expensive cities, working flexible hours, or getting to wear sweatpants instead of business slacks, the issue of time zones is already causing confusion, miscommunication, and even prejudice against employees working on a different clock.

Unintentional bias

Globally, by one estimate, 16% of companies are now fully remote. And a Gallup survey from late 2021 found that 45% of the US workforce was remote at least some of the time and that most planned to stay that way. A survey from 2022 found that 56% of full-time jobs are “remote capable.” While many jobs have requirements on which states or countries employees can work from, some do not.

Employees and freelancers who are able to have spread out across the US and the globe — creating large time differences between them and the people they work with. But while the coronavirus pandemic created a surge in remote work, it isn’t a pandemic novelty for companies to have a global reach. Businesses have been navigating time zones as long as “telecommuting” has been in the lexicon. While remote is all the rage now, Gallup figures indicate 39% of Americans worked remotely in some capacity in 2012, too.

But the shift in which companies are now offering remote work options provides a clue to why time-zone bias is becoming worse. Previously, most of the businesses that hired international and across states were bigger companies with bigger infrastructure. They are more likely to have software that can handle scheduling, videoconferencing, and accommodating larger groups of people in different time zones.

Smaller companies may not be able to afford scheduling software or dedicated staff members to manage scheduling, leaving the onus of navigating time zones to managers and employees. With a surge in how many people are working remotely and from where, more people than before are navigating large time differences. As with any shift, there is a learning curve.

Some employees I spoke with felt that their companies were just careless and didn’t realize or remember differences in time zones. After a US-based company he worked for was purchased by a company based in Europe, R. Karl Hebenstreit noticed that “all of our team meetings were scheduled around European time zones and holidays, while the US employees and the Asia-based employees were afterthoughts.”

Katrina, whose last name has been withheld so she wouldn’t get in trouble for speaking about her job, is a customer-service associate for a nationwide telecommunications company. She often didn’t have a supervisor at the end of the day because of the time-zone difference. In one case, she said, she was “admonished” for not handling a situation with a customer the same way the supervisor, who wasn’t reachable, would have.

For Hebenstreit, the bias toward a European schedule caused more work to fall on his shoulders. “Meetings were scheduled on and without regard to US holidays (even though we have automatic calendars that inform us of these details),” he told me. “And due to Europe’s more generous vacation, part-time schedule, and holiday schedules, the US employees were expected to pick up the slack for their European counterparts by taking on their clients as well.”

John, who worked for a company in Texas and lives on the West Coast, also had to pick up other teams’ slack because of his time zone. (His name has been changed to avoid retaliation since he still works in the same industry.) Because he was the last to log on for the day, “end-of-day deliverables like coverage reports, rapid commentary, etc. often got handed over to me,” John told me.

Managers are often not trying to exploit; they’re simply not able to remember everyone’s time zones when managing a large team. But often, that unintentional bias can lead to full-on prejudice….Read more….

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Source: Companies Are Discriminating Against Remote Workers: Time-Zone Prejudice

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Avaya The New Partnership Brings Changes To Telecomm

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Over the last nine months, Avaya has been making waves in the news with rumors swirling about. After exiting bankruptcy protection in 2017 and becoming a publicly traded company, Avaya reported nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in revenue in Q1 of last year. People started to wonder, “What is Avaya?” Avaya is a multinational tech company that specializes in unified communications.

Specializing even further, Avaya is one of the only UCaaS companies targeting government operations, which has a high barrier to entry for a number of reasons. As a leading provider of Avaya solutions, High Country has been watching the evolution of the company and the associated rumors carefully. Let’s review the recent timeline of this UCaaS leader and see where it might be headed next.

Avaya is two degrees of separation from AT&T, who began spinning off unitys in 1995. Officially founded as a public company in 2000, the organization was soon bought by two private equity firms in 2007, delisting from the New York Stock Exchange. Over the years, the company has introduced many innovative technology resources to the market, including multi-platform call centers, multi-site contact centers, speech-to-text features, and the comprehensive Avaya Unified Communications system.

Not long after becoming a private entity, Avaya purchased Nortel in a $900 million acquisition. Following that, the company became the go-to resource for major events, including the 2010 Winter Olympics. With this major increase in visibility, the public and competitors alike began to wonder not only “what is Avaya?” but also “what will they do next?”

Over the next few years, Avaya went on to acquire Sipera Systems, Aurix, and Radvision. In January of 2017, Avaya filed for bankruptcy protection, listing $5.5 billion in assets and $6.3 billion in debts. To increase liquidity, Avaya sold its networking business and related products to Extreme Networks for $100 million.

Since 2017, Avaya has undergone significant internal changes, including new leadership. After emerging from bankruptcy protection and re-entering the stock market, new leadership analyzed what seemed to be very volatile changes in progress and profits. Rumors began to circulate regarding a buyout. As stock prices bounced, Avaya announced the hiring of JPMorgan Chase to explore options and maximize shareholder value. This was one of the rare times the company publicly announced intentions with any kind of clarity.

In August of 2019, Mitel (a rapidly growing UCaaS giant) bid on Avaya for more than $5 billion. With additional rumors of private-equity buyouts that may or may not have been related to RingCentral, the general public grew wary. A merger with Mitel would require shareholders to accept stock in the combined company, so Avaya leaders began entertaining private buyouts that had a significantly lower sticker price.

In October of 2019, RingCentral officially invested in Avaya and the two companies set out to develop a UCaaS solution. Immediately following this announcement, Avaya stock jumped 11%.

The investment is not the outright sale most industry experts were anticipating, but it shook out to a $500 million investment from RingCentral. This partnership makes RingCentral the exclusive provider of UCaaS solutions for Avaya and will lead to a number of new solutions being introduced to the market on behalf of the two companies.

Next month, Avaya will be hosting their annual event, Engage 2020, where we can expect to learn more about where this new partnership will take UCaaS moving forward.All of the infrastructure changes within Avaya over the last year may make consumers hesitant to consider Avaya solutions for their business. In some cases, the customer may be right. In others, however, Avaya may still be the ideal solutions provider to take your business to the next level.

Source: What Is Avaya in 2020? New Partnership Brings Changes To Telecomm

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Hi Country is proud to be your one stop shop or one “neck to choke” for communications solutions

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FCC Calls Chinese Telecom Giants Huawei, ZTE Threats To National Security

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The Federal Communications Commission has officially designated Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE as threats to U.S. communications networks, claiming the companies have close ties to the Chinese government and its military services.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai noted that the two telecom equipment makers posed a risk to America’s 5G future “based on the overwhelming weight of evidence.”

Pai added that both companies are “broadly subject to Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services.”As a result of the order, U.S. telecom companies cannot use the FCC’s $8.3 billion subsidy fund to purchase any equipment made by the two companies.

 

The move is likely to affect rural network providers who rely on the FCC’s subsidies and have purchased equipment from the Chinese makers in the past, as it can be cheaper than ones built by European companies like Ericsson and Nokia.

In May, the agency had invited public comments on how it could reimburse carriers who chose to remove and replace existing Huawei and ZTE products in their networks.

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Critical Quote

“We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure,” FCC Chairman Pai said in a press release.

Key Background

The FCC had voted unanimously last year to prevent telecom equipment makers it deemed to be threats from receiving money from its Universal Service Fund, which is earmarked for expanding internet access to underserved regions of the country. The Trump administration has pushed countries around the world to not use network equipment from Chinese manufacturers in their next-generation 5G wireless networks. Following pressure from Washington, the U.K. government on Tuesday indicated that it would reconsider its decision to allow Huawei to supply 5G technology to the country.

Following the U.K. government’s initial decision in February, Attorney General William Barr had suggested that the U.S. should consider acquiring a controlling stake in European telecom equipment makers Nokia and Ericsson to “blunt” Huawei’s “drive to domination.” Later in February, the U.S. Senate had voted unanimously to pass a bill that banned the purchase of telecom equipment from Chinese manufactures like Huawei and ZTE. The bill, which was signed and enacted by the President in March, also included $1 billion in funding to help rural telecom providers “rip and replace” existing equipment from the Chinese manufacturers.

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I am a Breaking News Reporter at Forbes, with a focus on covering important daily news stories, tech policy and digital media platforms. Graduated from Columbia University with an MA in Business and Economics Journalism in 2019. Worked as a journalist in New Delhi, India from 2014 to 2018. Have a news tip? DMs are open on Twitter @SiladityaRay.

Source:

FCC chairman Ajit Pai talks to FOX Business’ Lou Dobbs about telecom using taxpayer money to buy from companies that pose security risks to the United States FOX Business Network (FBN) is a financial news channel delivering real-time information across all platforms that impact both Main Street and Wall Street. Headquartered in New York — the business capital of the world — FBN launched in October 2007 and is the leading business network on television, topping CNBC in Business Day viewers for the second consecutive year. The network is available in more than 80 million homes in all markets across the United States. Owned by FOX, FBN has bureaus in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and London.
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