This is a reality that so many people know: I work in New York City, my manager, Andy, works in Chicago. My two other teammates, John and Steven? They work in San Francisco. Four people, three time zones. For our distributed team to get together live, it typically requires meeting in my late afternoon, Andy’s early afternoon, and John and Steven’s late morning.
Throw in not wanting to schedule over anyone’s PTO or lunch, and the fact that John and Steven probably don’t want to get on Zoom first thing in the morning, we’re working in a tight window of time where we can all realistically meet.
Scheduling for a small team of four gets complicated pretty quickly. Imagine if we needed to invite another team member, or add Sales or Customer Success to our meeting, or collaborate with a contractor who lives outside of the United States.
How can I meet with my coworkers across the globe without wrecking my schedule?
This is the exact question that many remote workers find themselves asking, albeit selfishly. And it’s a crucial problem that Clockwise can uniquely solve. In the post below, I’m sharing some data to prove how Clockwise makes remote work easier.
Is this even a problem given the ‘Return to Office’ movement?
Some companies are permanently implementing remote work policies, others are mandating workers to come back to physical offices, and many are adopting hybrid models. Our own data—which, to be fair, may already skew toward more remote-focused companies in the tech sector—seems to suggest that businesses today continue to be more remote than they were at the height of the pandemic.
We estimate “how remote” an organization is based on time zone dispersion. While we can’t definitively say working in different time zones means that you are a remote employee, we do know it increases the likelihood of it, and working with teams in other time zones carries its challenges. Data shows that recent companies that sign up for Clockwise are on average more distributed than they were in October 2020, as seen in the chart below:
Simplifying a bit, we also can also look at time zone dispersion to make assumptions around whether or not a company is remote. Here, we assume that if the majority of workers (more than 70%) are located within the same time zones, the company is not remote-first. Looking at the data through this lens, we found that the percentage of organizations where at least 70% of their workers are in the same time zone has dropped more than 20% since January 2022. In other words, companies are more remote today than they were at the beginning of last year.
For remote companies, scheduling is especially painful
We’ve established that, according to our data, many companies continue to be highly distributed today, but how problematic is it really to schedule meetings?
Anecdotally, my calendar shows some of the pains of having teammates across several time zones, but I set out to actually quantify that pain. Here’s what I found:
Remote workers have less overlap in their day with colleagues. But, by how much?
On average, remote workers have 5.7 hours of overlap in their calendar with co-workers while non-remote workers have 8.3 hours (This includes 1 hour for lunch along with the standard 8 hour work day).
This isn’t very surprising on its own, but it’s not the whole story. I started digging into schedules and preferences to see the greater impact. Say for example, you want to block out an hour for lunch, and you prefer not to meet in the first and last hour of your day when you’re ramping up or trying to finish things before closing your laptop.
In that case, remote workers only have about 2.5 hours overlap in their schedules with their co-workers. With company all hands, team syncs, and other larger cross-functional meetings, that often leaves close to zero availability on the calendar to meet one-on-one with teammates.
If the availability to meet with teammates during working hours is limited, then logically, remote workers must meet with coworkers outside of working hours. And indeed, the data backs this up.
On average, workers at non-remote companies have about .5 hours of meetings outside of work hours (9 am to 5pm local time) per week.
In contrast, remote workers average 2.2 hours of meetings outside of working hours each week.
While working remotely often promises more flexibility in the work day, consistently meeting outside of working hours impedes work-life balance, and can contribute to greater stress and higher burnout.
That’s where Clockwise comes in. Clockwise is an AI-powered tool that optimizes team calendars to create space in the day for whatever is most important – whether that’s space for important meetings, time for deep work, or a dedicated lunch break.
To do that, individuals simply connect their calendars (work and also personal if they’d like), and set preferences around when and how they like to work, considering things like working hours, personal events, and how flexible certain meetings are. Based on those preferences, Clockwise reschedules meetings to minimize fragmentation in their day and creates uninterrupted space for deep work (that’s Focus Time).
For the purposes of this case study, I wanted to zoom in on flexibility, so I spent some time better understanding how our users leverage Flexible Meetings, one of the most valuable features of Clockwise.
Often when meetings need to happen, the exact time is not as important as ensuring that all the right people are in attendance and able to effectively participate. Marking a meeting as flexible gives Clockwise permission to automatically resolve conflicts and reschedule those meetings to the best time as your calendar evolves over the course of the week.
More flexibility = more collaboration hours.
Looking at our product engagement data, I found that marking meetings as flexible has a significant impact on the shape of the work day. People who had meetings on their calendar occurring outside of working hours before marking meetings as flexible saw a 20% reduction in the amount of time they spent in meetings outside of working hours after turning on Flexible Meetings.
Does turning on Flexible Meetings result in more uninterrupted Focus Time?
Once I confirmed Clockwise enables workers to avoid meeting outside of their working hours, I wanted to know if it can actually help them be more productive within their working hours.
In the data used for this analysis, meeters (defined as users with very busy calendars — think your C-suite and VP types) averaged about 1 hour and 55 minutes of Focus Time a day. After turning on Clockwise’s flexible meeting feature, these same users increased their Focus Time to an average of 3 hours and 17 minutes per day!
This is a 25% higher rate of increase compared to non-remote workers! So in other words, Clockwise helps create Focus Time for all users, but for remote workers, the effects are even stronger.
If you’re interested in an even more detailed analysis, check out this blog post, Is Clockwise Worth The Hype, by my teammate John. Yes, the very John from San Francisco that I started this blog post talking about.
When I first started at Clockwise in 2021, I was the only East Coast teammate in a primarily West Coast dominated company. There were undoubtedly some growing pains as the company learned how to operate with a single teammate three hours ahead.
We intentionally scheduled company meetings during overlapping hours, so my morning tended to be meeting-free while afternoons were packed with 1:1s and team syncs. But since Clockwise knows all my meeting preferences (plus those of everyone across the org), and automatically optimizes everyone’s calendars as things change, all these behavior changes happened organically. Clockwise naturally supported a team culture that allowed me to thrive.
Today, Clockwise is a fully distributed company with teammates in San Francisco, Austin, Denver, Chicago, North Carolina, New York, and more! And it’s exciting that we’ve been able to scale our remote culture much easier by using the very software we’re intent on getting the rest of the world to use.