My manager wanted me to stay longer in office because upper management was not satisfied with my working hours. He and other managers said that I was productive as a software engineer, but he failed to convince upper management that working hour should not be emphasized so much.

My company tracks all non-managerial employees' working hours by time clocks. They require 44 hours a week, and my record is usually around 40 ~ 42. But upper management doesn't want employees to have just 44 hours, they usually consider employee with 48 ~ 50 hours a week is hard working, and will give pressure to those who are just 44.0x hours.

My contract requires 44 hours, otherwise salary will be detected proportionally. By the way, my former manager said that I didn't violate company's policy by working less and accepting less pay. I am in Hong Kong, and there is no legislation regarding maximum and normal working hours currently.

I think other co-workers agreed that working hours target set my management is too long, so often I found a lot of co-workers doing things not totally related to work to "fulfill" the target.

My manager said that he didn't care what I did in office hour, he will turn a blind eye to that. He just wanted me to stay long enough. But I don't want to stay that long, how to deal with this situation?

  • 5
    You seem to have a manager who respects you and is happy with your work but is unable to change upper management's ideas on seat time. You are also losing salary that you arguably deserve by not hitting the hours your contract requires. Pushing back against this requirement, ridiculous as it is, seems like career-limiting move. Are you sure you want to go through with that?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 7:58
  • @Lilienthal Previously, I did raise my working hours to fulfill the requirement for months to get a promotion. I just want to see if there is another way to go.
    – Ken
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 9:43
  • To be clear: do you want to keep putting in less than your contractually required hours or are you fine with moving to doing "just" those 44 hours and then pushing back against upper management if they keep asking you to put in longer hours? In most countries it's an important distinction as you could be fired for cause for not doing your hours, though I don't know Hong Kong's labour laws on that.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 10:57
  • 1
    I (wrong) guessed we are in the same town, do a fine job in 42 hours, lose 4.76% of you meager salary because you go home 2 hours earlyer, got management upset because the 50 hours expectations. At least you got a good and sane manager. Upper management dont list to middle management, they will not listem to you. Use those 2 hours to learn from SE sites and contribute to community ;v)
    – jean
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 12:18
  • 1
    If your contract says 44 hours and your higher-ups are insisting on it, then I'm afraid that's that. I'd resist pressure to do more than that though. If you are completing all of your work in 40 hours a week and you feel like those extra 4 hours will be unproductive, use them to learn new skills or something. I've never seen a software developer contract of employment that didn't include something along the lines of "keeping your technical knowledge up to date". Learning new skills IS your job. Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 12:42

3 Answers 3


It's pretty obvious that upper management are only really concerned about seat time (the time that you're in your office, at your computer).

There's only really two options here.

1) Find another job that requires less working hours per week (and probably pays less for that)
2) Join your co-workers and work longer hours

It might be an idea to do some other things at work, the same as your colleagues do - you're kind of stuck in the culture of longer working hours that appear to be the standard in Hong Kong.

It looks as though you're habitually under-performing in terms of your booked hours (you're regularly working less than your contracted hours). If you do decide to move on, think about how this under-working will be reflected in the references sent out by this company.

  • 11
    As described, there is the alternative of buying a newspaper and reading it in the office for a few hours. Which just confirms the stupidity of his upper management.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 7:15
  • 3
    Yeah, trying to see if you have any hobbies that you can do at the office might be a good alternative.
    – Erik
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 8:26
  • 2
    Or, if you can't bring yourself to simply goof off during the extra time, find something to do that is job-related that you, or others, have been putting off. Organize your email, take out the trash, polish down the tables in the conference rooms, water the plants, check to make sure the tables don't need to be polished again, verify that the fire extinguishers are all fully charged, review the Employee Handbook for grammatical errors, etc. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 14:43
  • 2
    @RobertColumbia It's pretty normal for a software developer to have "keep your technical knowledge up to date" listed as one of their responsibilities in their contract. Seems like that's what the OP should be doing with the extra 4 hours a week; learning new skills. Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 12:45

But I don't want to stay that long, how to deal with this situation?

  • Upper management wants everyone to work more than 44 hours per week.
  • Your contract requires 44 hours.
  • You usually work 40-42 hours
  • You don't want to stay longer

Clearly, this is a mismatch between what you want in your work situation and what upper management demands.

Thus, you should find a new job with hours that meet your needs, get and accept an offer, hand in your notice, work out your notice period, and leave this job in your past.


If you want to make a point in educating higher management, either approach is risky, as they probably believe in what they teach and opposing it - in their eyes - means willfully hurting the company's productivity. Still, if you want to do something, rather make sure to have the backing of as many colleagues as possible. Then do something together, e.g. write an open letter that everyone signs. Form a union or whatever representative structures exist in your country and push for a change in policy. Or start doing Yoga / napping classes right in front of higher management's offices - during work hours, of course ;)

You also seem to have the alternative to just keep doing what you are doing. Depending on your future plans, this may, for now, be the most beneficial way. Your contract accounts for the possibility to work less, so you should be able to deflect all comments on your work hours towards that regulation. You don't need management to be totally happy to keep working where you are, yet it may affect your future career in this company with respect to payment increases and promotions at some point. They might also try to change the rules or look more closely at your performance than those of others at some point.

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