“Overtime” ?— No. It’s called Time Zones.
It was around 9 in the evening. I was texting the client and responding to her emails and queries. But for the bulk of it, I was in touch with my colleagues who were based in Dubai.
- A four-hour time difference.
- The press conference was less than 13 hours away.
- Back and forth changes on documents with the client. Docs which were saved as from, e.g. “v1.2” to v.1.3" to “working draft” to “FINAL” then “FINAL v1.0”.
You get the idea. Just a another day in the life of any agency or service providers, gearing up toward a press launch.
One who has experience working in the industry (for this instance, PR) would assume that it’s a very normal thing to do — working away the day before the big day.
11th-hour items from the client aside. We were all busy. We all had our bases to cover, and responsibilities to manage.
I was updating the client on something in one of the many group chats of ours, and for some reason I couldn’t recall, the client suddenly made a really snarky comment.
She mentioned something along the lines of we were “incompetent” because it’s “a Sunday” and “you guys are still working at this hour” (well, so was she but that’s another story which I am not interested in telling), and that it was “unnecessary overtime”.
I thought it was rude, I actually felt insulted. It was a really unprofessional, disrespectful thing to say. To anyone. Regardless agency or not. But it wasn’t long before that I realized that I had already calmed down. I ignored her comment, and carried on as though nothing disrespectful were being said. As though the snarky comment had fell on deaf ears.
I, too, thought it was ridiculous to be working on a Sunday. It wasn’t hard to empathize because I know what’s it like for all parties who are involved in this line of work. Who wouldn’t prefer to vacation at the Caribbean all year-long, fly first-class on company expense, and not work a day? Nobody likes to answer to anybody. Really, who does?
But empathy aside.
- I was online and working not simply because there was work to do.
- I was online and working not because we the agency were “incompetent” and that it was “the weekend”.
- I was online and working not because my children gave me their blessing to ignore them (do they ever give their blessings that way?).
I was online and working because of the time difference, and that it was a working day for my colleagues in Dubai. I was online because we are a team.
It never crossed my mind that I had to purposely make myself available because of the above reasons. It came to me naturally. The team could use my help. After all, I was the key contact point for all three launches across three continents, three time zones. I was their buffer between their sanity and our client’s sanity (likewise). This triangle needs to co-exist with each other. No one was “incompetent”. It was business as usual, a working day for one of us, then it will be a collective effort from all of us. Client, or the agency.
- Yes, I want to put it out there, and just say it — it was a truly insensitive remark.
- Yes, she used to work for an agency and she should have “known better”.
But this is the real deal. Not everyone in the business are destined to have strong work ethics and know what empathy means. The world is the world. People will always be people.
I answer to God, my conscience, and myself. Be the better person, and take a chill pill.
The world will always be unfair. and people will always be people.