5

My scheduled hours of my office are 09:30-17:30, and we have a big project starting, which will cost the company lots of money if it fails.

The project manager for this project has scheduled recurring meetings, everyday at 09:00, for the next three weeks.

I get in at 09:00 every day, but I usually do most of my personal stuff in that time before I'm scheduled to work. I'm now considering not coming into the office until 09:30.

The whole company's working hours are 9:30-17:30. The PM is basically expecting everyone to get in an extra half an hour early to attend these hour long meetings.

I can be flexible, and I would prefer to be flexible. I have repeatedly asked if I can work 9-5, but it has been refused. Now I'm being asked 'to go the extra mile' when there is nothing given in return.

If I change my journey into work and get into the office when we're all meant to start at 09:30, then am I in any danger of disciplinary action?

What are my options in dealing with this situation?

  • 1
    did you speak with the PM about this? chances are you don't need to come to every meeting – ratchet freak Apr 16 '13 at 8:37
  • 1
    Have you just asked if you could move the meeting to a time that everyone can make it? – Rhys Apr 16 '13 at 9:11
  • Can't you take a bridge call ? Or do you need to attend the meeting in person ? – NINCOMPOOP Apr 16 '13 at 9:14
  • @NoobUnChained the issue isnt that he cant personally get into the meeting, but that he physically isnt supposed to be working at that time. Like if someone scheduled a meeting on the weekend and expected you to turn up. – Rhys Apr 16 '13 at 9:43
  • 1
    How does everyone else in the company feel about this, what is the culture like? Company culture is very important as it determines how you will be percieved when/if you complain about this. – MrFox Apr 16 '13 at 13:17
16

The first thing you should do is talk to the project manager!

Taking into consideration the new information i suggest this course of action. I will leave the other answers there to help others in a similar situation.

Talk to the project manager

You could always tell the project manager that work does not begin at that time so you will be unable to attend the meeting. I am no lawyer but if your contract says 9:30 til 5 then those are your hours, you don't have to do anything extra if you do not wish to.

However, I do suggest talking to him and trying to get it moved, explain that none of you work then, get your manager involved if you need to. At the end of the day it is your decision on whether you want to draw a hard line in the sand saying no, this is my time, or if you are OK stepping out of those boundaries on occasion to help out the company in need. It is likely to be more recognized.

Though i do NOT suggest doing this often. Once or twice is fine, but if you consistently allow them to eat into your time then they will do it more and more frequently.

For this instance though, if the project is even half as important as you explain it to be i would do what i could to help out. The company is likely to remember that you stepped up to the plate and helped them out in their time of need.

If you would like to say No, but are worried about your job, then i suggest you talk to an employment lawyer, they will know much more about the situation than anyone here on this site can offer


Other possibilities

Your first port of call should be to bring it to his attention, kindly and politely ask if the meeting could be moved to half 9 as that is when your working day begins.

Failing this you have a few choices to make, I will list them below:

Change your working hours

1). For the three weeks you could discuss with your manager if just for this set of time you could work from 9 until 5, the hours worked would be the same just shifted forwards half an hour. Then you can use 5 until half 5 as that time you wanted personally. Of course only do this if you are comfortable shifting your hours forward.

Decline the meeting request

2). I'm presuming the meeting request was sent through email as this is an effective way to get everyone's attention. There is always a decline button. You could simply decline the meeting request with reason and then explain the reason. Leaving it to the manager to decide. Though if you and the pm are in the same building i suggest a face to face discussion, the email approach should only be used if he is in a different office.

Take it up with your manager

3). If he refuses to move the meeting you take it up with your manager and explain that you don't work that time so you won't do work in it. This is likely to get you what you want, but at the cost of your appearances at work. I do not suggest this approach if you can avoid it.

Attend some but not all meetings

4). If it is only once a week for three weeks then maybe be flexible enough to change your hours only for that one meeting day each week. If it is every day perhaps ask if you could attend on the Friday or Monday of each week. This minimizes the impact it has on your life and also allows you to attend both at the beginning and end of the week to catch up on important information.

Attend no meetings

If it really isn't vital you are there then perhaps you don't need to attend at all, but the underlying advice for all of these solutions will require communication with the pm at some point so just ask! The worst he can say is no.

  • 2
    Good answer, covers all the bases really. The only thing I'd add is that if you're on "a big project on which will cost the company lots of money if it fails", you're unlikely to get any favourable reaction to trying to run a strict "work to rule" practice on your 9:30-5:30 schedule. People tend to remember the guy who's not willing to put in a little extra effort for the really important project. – Carson63000 Apr 16 '13 at 12:48
  • @Carson63000 agreed, thats why the majority of my answers allude to being flexible where possibble, but sometimes its not always possibble to do so. In events like that, thats what my other answers are for, trying to find an acceptable middle ground. – Rhys Apr 16 '13 at 12:53
  • Good answer. Covers all the realistic options, and it just depends on the OP evaluating their current situation for risk and applicability. – huntmaster Apr 16 '13 at 13:03
  • The company working hours are 19:30-17:30 he is basically expecting everyone to get in an extra half an hour early to attend these hour long meetings, thanks for the above comments and yes I would prefer to be flexible. I have repeatedly asked if I can work 9-5 but it has been refused, now I'm being asked 'to go the extra mile' when there is nothing given in return. Bit of a one way street if you ask me – spences10 Apr 16 '13 at 13:05
  • 2
    @spences10 You said you have repeatedly asked to work 9-5 and been denied, but what about finding a compromise on different days, such as being allowed to leave early for a few weeks once things have quieted down, or taking a full day off later on without using your personal time in exchange? – Rachel Apr 16 '13 at 15:34
12

To every thing there is a season

So what's the real issue here?

"Coming in early sucks!"

Only you've already told us:

I get in at 09:00 every day

"Not getting to leave after 8 hours sucks!"

Only you've already told us:

I stay late to address issues that always manifest themselves five minutes before we're all due to go home

As the old story goes...

They are telling this of Lord Beaverbrook and a visiting Yankee actress. In a game of hypothetical questions, Beaverbrook asked the lady: ‘Would you live with a stranger if he paid you one million pounds?’ She said she would. ‘And if be paid you five pounds?’ The irate lady fumed: ‘Five pounds. What do you think I am?’ Beaverbrook replied: ‘We’ve already established that. Now we are trying to determine the degree.’

Guess what: you've already compromised. Your reputation as a law-abiding by-the-book employee has already been tarnished. We are now discussing boundaries.

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

So you want to set a boundary. You want to say, "This is not proper". And that's healthy. Setting boundaries is an important part of every relationship. I don't question your intent, I question your timing. You say:

we have a big project on which will cost the company lots of money if it fails.

That means this is Crunch Time for the company, and your actions will speak more loudly than during a quiet period when there is some wiggle-room.

In exchange for 30 minutes of "Personal Time" when you are in the office anyway, this is what you are risking:

  • If you suddenly decide to Work-to-Rule, regardless of if you can be fired or not, a reasonable conclusion could be, "he runs when we need him most".
  • If you decide to refuse to comply until your demands are met, a reasonable conclusion could be, "he uses crises as a negotiation tactic".

Is this a trade you want to make?

A time to rend, and a time to sow; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm suggesting that you show up for the meetings now, and pick a better time to draw those boundaries. And this sounds like a fantastic opportunity to set up that conversation. Sow the seeds for success in three weeks. Working life is long enough that you can put something on hold for that long.

Step 1: Write an E-mail

Hey Boss, it's Spences. I know that it's crunch time for our company right now, and I'll show up at 9am every day for the meetings so we can get our ducks in a line and get through this project on time.

Once things have quieted down in three weeks and we've successfully weathered the storm, I'd like to have a chat. Please schedule in an hour at one of these times: (insert times here)

See you at 9am!

  • Spences

Step 2: Actually Weather the Crisis

Show up, do your job, amaze the dickens our of your coworkers, be a pillar of security in a time of crisis, and generally kick butt. Or at least manage to be solid (if outstanding is beyond your capability). At any rate, don't call in sick, show up late, leave early, or come in hungover.

Step 3: Prepare for the Chat

So once you've made it through these three weeks and come out unscathed, it's time to prepare for that chat with the boss you promised. What do you actually want? What reasoning do you have to justify getting what you want?

For instance, if you do the math:

30 minutes/day x 60 minutes/hour x 15 days = 7.5 hours = 1 work day

I'd be all about getting a free day off, which is well within the power of your boss to do (most likely), and not very transparent to other colleagues which may be of concern to the boss.

You may have a different goal. Perhaps you want to go to some conference? Or a seminar? Or otherwise get some sort of perk that isn't time off.

Step 4: Have the Chat

Preface the chat with the obvious:

Hey boss, thanks for meeting up with me. Over the past few weeks I've been working hard, doing X, Y, and Z to get this project out the door in time. It was a crazy few weeks, but I really think it was a good experience for us and the team.

As you know, I brought up a few concerns about coming in early for three weeks. Rather than argue about it at the time, I figured it was more important for the company to get the project done first so we can discuss this without that pressure hanging over our heads.

I'm more than happy to be flexible when the company needs me, but I hope that in return the company can acknowledge that extra effort. As you can see, I've worked a lot of extra overtime over the past three weeks, and I was hoping that you could work out a way to get me an extra vacation day so I can spend time with my family.

And then listen. And discuss. And negotiate. Like humans. Like coworkers.

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

At the end of the day, you may or may not get what you want. But at the very least you will have shown that you are positive, given it the good ol' college try, and can make a fair unbiased judgment on how you want to proceed given the results.

Short-term gain always seems so tempting. Just ask the kids in the Marshmallow Experiment. But at the end of the day you achieve more success with a longer term view and patience.

Patience is a lot easier when the goal (or at least "action") is already put on the calendar while you have to be patient. That's why sending the e-mail now saying you will discuss it later will likely help you out.

Of course, you could also just keep your mouth shut until the project is over and then sit down and have an adult chat with your boss about it, but in this case (given your seeming lack of patience currently), I advised the above multi-pronged approach.

  • Your answer is tremendous, I just had a few minutes to ramble. Have no fear -- you're well in the lead and will stay at the top by merit of the "accepted answer" for the foreseeable future. – jmac Apr 18 '13 at 15:11
1

I get in at 09:00 every day but I usually do most of my personal stuff in that time before I'm scheduled to work, I'm now considering not coming into the office until 09:30.

This is a problem for you. You've already established you can be there at 9. It sounds petty to say that you can't attend the meeting in the office. (In the future, maybe you could do you personal stuff elsewhere?) Stopping coming in at 9 right when this meeting starts, also comes across as petty.

I'm all for defending boundaries, but I wonder if it is worth it here. We are talking about 7.5 hours across three weeks. You could say you'll do it this time but not next time. Or ask to see an agenda for the meeting the day before. (I find it hard to believe there is enough to talk about for an hour every day.)

I have repeatedly asked if I can work 9-5 but it has been refused, now I'm being asked 'to go the extra mile' when there is nothing given in return. Bit of a one way street if you ask me

This is also an opportunity to discuss what you are measured on. Because it sounds like the amount of time your butt is in a chair rather than what you produce. And if it is vital you be there both at 9 for this meeting and 5:30 (for support or something), are you allowed to take a longer lunch for the 3 weeks? And if not, why not? Again, I'd prompt to find out what is important to them. It could be they are expecting a certain amount of work they believe can't be done in 7 hours. In which case, they present the work and you see how long it takes. Or counter if it is unrealistic.

Also, is the PM your boss? If not, talk to your boss.

Note that the communication option does carry a risk. The lowest risk thing is to just work the extra half hour. Personally, I think the conversation is worth it. On the current path, both you and the employer will simply become more unhappy over time.

-2

You have 3 real options:

  1. Come in early for the meetings and give a little extra for a few weeks.
  2. Quit
  3. Refuse to comply (possibly the same as 2 but you should get paid for a few more days)

Your company is demanding that you give extra effort to accomplish a task. You can either go along with it or accept the risks that come with refusing. We can not make that choice for you, though personally I prefer to get a paycheck.

  • 1
    Thanks @Chad, I'm not expecting that the choice is made for me, just trying to canvas opinion. – spences10 Apr 16 '13 at 14:33
  • 3
    @spences10 - That is not what SE is for. We are a Q&A site that answers practical questions. Does it suck sure. It is not unheard of and I doubt anyone would even say it is an uncommon expection of a salary position. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 16 '13 at 14:39
  • Well I have my answer @Chad, thanks for your input – spences10 Apr 16 '13 at 14:52
  • 1
    @spences10 be careful how hard you stick to your contract, how would you respond if you needed to leave an hour early for an emergency and your company said 'Nope, contract says you work til X so you will work it" its all about finding a balance, i hope you find yours! – Rhys Apr 16 '13 at 14:59
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    You forgot the best option, which is talking it over with either the person in charge of your hours, or the one in charge of setting up the meeting, and finding some kind of compromise that suits you both. That could be changing the meeting hours, changing your work hours, getting something extra for coming in outside of regular work hours such as leaving early on another day, etc. But your only options are definitely not just limited to quit, refuse, or silently comply. – Rachel Apr 16 '13 at 16:28

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