You wake up to a massive e-mail backlog like you’d have after a taking a vacation, you prioritize and respond to it, and you’re done. You can reasonably expect to have only a nominal amount of new incoming mail until the very end of the workday. Sleep, rinse, and repeat.
This is the reality that I’ve been experiencing for the last couple of weeks working from across the world in Berlin. It’s a significant change from my home “gossip” culture characterized by frequent interrupts on HipChat and IM, and a steady stream of incoming e-mail throughout the day. This model has the significant advantages like faster turnaround on bug reports/fixes and minimal blocking when you need help, but it can occasionally feel like a frantic cross-fire with the “mute” button being the final life preserver keeping you afloat.
The downside of this eight hour offset is generally slower communication turnaround, but so far I’ve found that after the new conditions set in, colleagues realize quickly that they shouldn’t block their work on an immediate response. The upside is a longer workday empty of the high-frequency distractions that lead to the churn caused by constant context switching. Large blocks of time free up for uninterrupted work and deep thought.
It may not be the right long-term model, but it’s certainly a peaceful interim.