I don't mind staying late to get something done in a fire drill, or to meet deadlines, but if there's a meeting that runs over the working hours that you've communicated to your co-workers (in a different timezone), is it acceptable to exit the meeting? I have a life after work, I don't think it's fair or acceptable to expect someone to stay after their communicated work hours.

I worry that my co-workers are purposely setting meetings like these (which is a separate issue), but I want to establish ground rules for respecting each other's times. If this behavior continues, is it acceptable to leave with the stated idea to conduct meetings in each other's respective work hours?

Edit: additionally, we had an 1 hour today, and they were both 30 minutes late, which I thought was unprofessional and disrespectful of time. I dislike that the burden of maintaining professionalism is on me, and that I should be expected to work beyond my working hours to make up for their behavior.

  • 4
    Two separate issues at play here, and maybe you're asking about both. If they were on time, and the meeting was unable to wrap before the end of your work day, would you still have felt strongly that you should consider leaving the meeting, or is it because they were 30 minutes late and you are thinking "if you had more than 30 minutes of stuff to cover, you should have been there at the start time for the meeting"? Jan 18, 2018 at 22:41
  • There are two separate problems: the scheduling and them being late. When you say to expect someone to stay after their communicated work hours", did you actually tell these specific people "I have a hard stop at X o'clock on days Y,Z and must leave the office by then. So the latest I'm available for a meeting is (X-1) o'clock, and we need to start on time". But best to also schedule meetings earlier in the day.
    – smci
    May 1, 2018 at 22:53

5 Answers 5


If this behaviour continues, is it acceptable to leave with the stated idea to conduct meetings in eachother's respective work hours?

I see that there is a different problem here than you leaving early, and to solve it you and your team will have to come up with coordinated meeting hours that everyone is ok with. That is the only way no one will have to leave in the middle of team meetings.

You say that those teammates are aware of this situation, and that your workhours end before the conclusion of the meeting. In that case I think it would not be unprofessional to leave the meeting, just make sure you do so politely and restating the reason why (something like, "as mentioned I have to go now guys, I'll get up to date in the morning").

Additionally, as your edit indicates, they were also late for this meeting (something unprofessional from their part indeed), and given the time-zone situations there is few things you can do to compensate for their lateness.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Lilienthal
    Jan 24, 2018 at 7:54

It depends a lot on the context of the meeting. An ordinary meeting with people you know reasonably well who all work for your company, well then just give your excuse and leave.

However, if the meeting is on a clearly high priority subject, if it was difficult to find a time when all could attend or if anyone outside your company or a senior manager in your company is in attendance, then stay.

  • Let's assume all meetings are important (why have them if they're not?) This meeting was with two co-workers, no management. Regardless of the meeting's content, I don't think it's fair to push the burden of professionalism on one person only-- they were 30 mins late. In the interest of maintaining boundaries, I think it's important to leave when you said you would, but I understand where you're coming from.
    – dfslfsers
    Jan 17, 2018 at 23:13
  • 3
    It depends a lot on the context of the meeting. THIS
    – Neo
    Jan 18, 2018 at 15:23
  • And why were they 30 minutes late? Were they stuck in a client meeting? Did the elevator get stuck? And do two wrongs make a right? So leaving for you is more about punishing people than you want to go home?
    – HLGEM
    Jan 18, 2018 at 15:28
  • 5
    To begin with, other people compromise too. You (the generic you, not just you personally) just don't notice that as much. Next, you are the one managing your career. If you don't compromise and do the right thing and stay if the issue is critical, it is your career, not theirs, that will be hurt. And finally, life isn't fair for anyone. Learn to accept this and you will personally be a lot happier.
    – HLGEM
    Jan 18, 2018 at 16:36
  • 3
    "Let's assume all meetings are important (why have them if they're not?)" I cannot tell you how many hours (days?) of my life have been wasted in unimportant meetings. Many, many meetings aren't important, they just make the organizer feel important.
    – alroc
    May 2, 2018 at 1:43

Is it professional to leave a meeting early


if it runs over work hours


It is professional to weigh commitments, and sometimes you'll have something of greater weight than remaining in the meeting. But leaving a meeting early just because it runs over "work hours" is unprofessional. Especially if you're salaried. How would you feel if you were at the dentist, and at 5:01 the dentist goes "Oh, it's after work hours now." and walks out? You have a job, you do the job until either the job is done, or it's imposing an unreasonable burden. If you're staying several hours over, that's unreasonable, but an occasional 15 minutes or half an hour isn't. You should make a reasonable effort to not schedule things immediately after work. If you have something you can't reasonably avoid (and there is significant wiggle room in "can't reasonably avoid", but it shouldn't just be "I shouldn't have to be inconvenienced at all outside of work hours"), then it is professional to inform the other participants prior to the meeting, and stick to the deadline. And when you're scheduling meetings, it's perfectly reasonable to express a preference for times that leave a margin between the end of the meeting and the end of work hours, but it's not reasonable to outright refuse meetings that go up to, or even slightly past, work hours. With people in other time zones, it may even be necessary to have meetings entirely outside of work hours.

  • The dentist wouldn't start working on your teeth if there isn't enough time to finish the job.
    – gnasher729
    May 1, 2018 at 23:34
  • @gnasher729, sometimes even the dentist is surprised by something taking longer than planned.
    – HLGEM
    May 2, 2018 at 14:26

It depends on a lot of factors. Is this meeting a regular occurence? Are we talking, like, once a week or once every couple months? If it's a relatively rare thing, I would personally just grin and bear it. If we're talking once every couple weeks or more often, however, I might try to get the point across.

It also depends on who initiated this meeting. Is this an obligatory meeting, or is just kind of something that is you attend because you want to know what the company is supposed to be doing? Is this something initiated by your coworkers, and if so, is it something that they feel is necessary, but that you personally don't really feel is important?

If it is they who initiate these meetings and you don't feel they are all that important, something along the lines of,

Say, I understand that this meeting is important to you, but I have personal responsibilities after work hours, so I really have to leave at xx:xx. Would it be possible to schedule this meeting earlier in the day so that if we run over time I don't have to run out on you?

...might do the trick.

If, on the other hand, it's something that you deem important, or they feel they are rendering you a service by meeting with you, a similar, but slightly different tack might help:

Listen, I'm realising that this time for our meeting doesn't work very well for me, since I have domestic responsibilities [or whatever] after work. I really don't want to miss part of the meeting, so would it be possible to schedule it earlier so that I don't have to run out on you?


It is unprofessional to plan a meeting so that it will run past the end of your working hours. And it is unprofessional to plan a meeting that is supposed to end within working hours, and than taking longer than planned.

Professionals finish meetings on time. If the meeting is scheduled late, you can tell at the beginning of the meeting when you will leave, so if someone has the desire to make it last longer, they will have to do that without you. If the meeting starts twenty minutes late because of late comers, it's professional to say that the meeting will be say 70 minutes instead of 90, and needs to be focused to achieve this.

And it is entirely reasonable to insist that you don't work without being paid.

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