I'm a jira admin, and I added a second tab with custom fields to epics. I can see the tab and fields when the fields have not been filled out. Other users don't see the tab until those fields have a value. The users who can't see the fields are the ones who will fill them out.
Is this functioning as designed? This would lead me to believe yes.
Is the workaround to give one of my fields a default value?
The article you cite is for Jira Server and wouldn't apply in this case as you are using Jira Cloud.
However, here's what you are check. While in one of the issues, in the very bottom right hand side you should see a clickable link for Configure. Click on that.
On the ensuing screen (it might even open a new tab in your browser) you will see the Issue Layout.
Click on the new tab name that you added.
Check to see where the custom fields are. You might need to drag them up from the section at the bottom that says Hide When Empty. Move them up to the Context fields or Description fields section.
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