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I am in the middle of apartment hunting, and I'm getting too close to the end of my current lease for comfort, so I'm taking any opportunity I can to see showings, which sometimes can only happen during the work day.

At the company I recently started working for, it is common place for employees to take time off from work for doctor appointments and the like, either returning later in the day or declaring their intention to work from home for the remainder of the day. It is also common place to just elect to work from home for an entire day, for any reason. As long as people feel you're making a good contribution to the company, they don't seem to mind how long / when you work (this freedom only goes to a certain extent, I'm sure).

So far I've left work early a couple times to see apartments, saying I had an "appointment." But I feel if I keep leaving early for vague "appointments" it'll start to look like I'm just making excuses to ditch work.

My question is, would it be looked upon as an acceptable excuse to leave early if I actually clarify that these appointments are apartment showings? Obviously, the answer would vary from company to company, and the people who would know best would be my coworkers, but given the above, general workplace culture, and the challenges of finding quality affordable housing in a major US city, would this be acceptable?

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    Is it possible for me? Yes, I have done so. Is it possible for you, yes, you have done so, for your "appointments". "My question is, would it be looked upon as an acceptable excuse to leave early if I actually clarify that these appointments are apartment showings?" - acceptable to whom? To us? Why do you care? To your boss, or even your co-workers? Ask them, not us – Mawg Jul 19 '18 at 6:53
  • If you leave work early and all you say is "appointments," they're probably going to think you're going on job interviews. – user1602 Jul 20 '18 at 16:40
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You don't need to tell anyone the reason for leaving early. It seems like your company is not obsessed with how many hours you spent sitting on the office chair. Leaving a few hours early once in a while is okay, as long as you take care of the following:

  • Complete your work in the agreed time. For example, by working from home later, or coming in early the next day.
  • Inform your manager and the team of your unavailability and your alternate plan, at least a few hours in advance. If your coworker needs to talk to you to complete his task, he shouldn't be left wondering where you went and when you would be back.

However, you also don't have to keep your apartment visits a secret. If you have a good rapport with your manager and the team, it is fine to tell them about your apartment visits. It is not an unreasonable thing to talk about at work, and your coworkers might even offer you some advice to help you find the apartment sooner.

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    To strengthen your point, if apartment-hunting is chewing so much into OPs working hours, more than likely his colleagues are very much aware, how much of an issue it is to find one. It would not be a far-fetched assumption to think that everyone will be very understanding of his current problems. This is very much my observation in a metropolitan area in Germany. – LLlAMnYP Jul 19 '18 at 10:30
  • Another thing to keep in mind is that having a lot of appointments might lead OP's boss and coworkers to conclude that OP is job hunting. Whether that's enough of a problem OP should reveal the nature of these appointments depends on the company. – Llewellyn Jul 19 '18 at 16:55
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It very much depends on your company, and on your work. I work for a department where more than 90% of the people are expats. People leaving work early/taking long lunch breaks to visit apartments is common -- specially for people who just started. And since this is IT development, it's not a problem, and noone will blink an eye.

OTOH, my spouse came home earlier today telling a story about their work: a nurse going to the dentist during work hours, leaving patients unattended. That certainly is not ok.

Talk to your manager. She/he can tell you what's acceptable at your company, and what not. But play it straight -- tell what you do, instead of being vague. Needing to find an apartment isn't something to be ashamed of. (I've worked in the USA in the past, and never had a problem taking time to go apartment hunting; but I also never had a problem working late to make up for lost time)

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