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I'm starting a new job next week. I'm looking forward to it.

However, when interacting with the employees after signing the contract I got the impression that's one of those companies at which you are expected to work much more than what is in your contract (contractually it's a position comparable to an exempt position in the US).

Whereas I understand that having a responsible role sometimes requires you to stay longer or take work home with you and spend a few hours finishing something up, I'm absolutely not a person who takes pride in leaving the office at 8 pm most of the days. In my jobs so far I always tried to optimise the processes and automate simpler tasks in order to perform them efficiently and not need to do unpaid overtime. And in most cases, it has worked.

Another reason for me to avoid unpaid overtime are characteristics of my field. My area is one in which you need to stay focused to perform tasks. Studies show that people don't work effectively for more than 8h (even less than that). For me it makes more sense to work highly focused during, let's say, 6h than stay 10h but be distracted. Basically, I think results matter much more than the fact someone spends much more hours before their laptop than they need to.

Now I don't know how I should behave at the beginning knowing they work so much. The fact that I will be leading a team doesn't precisely make it easier.

I was thinking about observing other people and adjusting to what they are doing in the first several weeks, not commenting on that to my team but at the same time trying to use my old method - optimising everything so that we don't need to stay longer. Are there any better methods of changing the expectations of staying longer?

  • Not just that you don't work effectively after 8 hours. If you work long hours for a long time, you actually are less productive per week than someone working fewer hours a week. – gnasher729 Nov 30 '18 at 21:17
  • Is this software related? – Fattie Dec 1 '18 at 4:21
  • Hi @Fattie, it's not a job in software dev. but a comparable one - one in which results can be assessed objectively at least to some extent. – BigMadAndy Dec 1 '18 at 8:20
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You say "you are expected to work much more than what is in your contract". My question is: "expected" by who in particular? You should start by doing your work properly and efficiently, and then leaving when your day is finished. If your boss says to you "why are you leaving so early", then you can point out to him/her that your work is done, it's to specification, and you put in your contractually-obligated hours, so you're leaving because you're done for the day (I'd try to put it a bit nicer than this in reality, but you shouldn't be afraid to be forceful in defending yourself). Then see what happens. There are a few possible outcomes:

  1. Your boss says nothing. He acknowledges you're done, so you leave. Problem solved.

  2. Your boss says "you should stay longer anyway". In which case, you stay longer and use the time to surf the internet, hang out, play games on your phone, or whatever else you'd like to do. In the meantime, casually start looking for another job. Companies that monopolize their employees' time without compensating them for it are not good companies to work for, but as long as you're getting stuff done, then you should keep it up.

  3. Your boss starts giving you more stuff to do to fill your "overtime". In which case, run away as fast as you can. Aside from the issues with concentration/focus you outlined in your OP, also your company is taking advantage of their employees and not paying them for their committed time. This is dangerous. For a very good description of why this is dangerous, here's a Google search for the Japanese word Karoshi; you can start by reading some of those pages.

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    "start looking for another job" Yes! Don't let a company ruin your work-life balance to assuage their own egos. – PeteCon Nov 30 '18 at 21:25
  • Job hopping is a thing is my country so "start looking for another job" after just starting is not an option. – BigMadAndy Dec 1 '18 at 6:40
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    @385703 In all countries I'm aware of if you look early enough it doesn't even count as a job or a hop - if you take a job an immediately realize it wasn't what you were promised or it doesn't work out, you leave it off the resume and move on immediately, never mentioning it in the future (at the very most if the job hunt takes a while you only mention it to your next employer and then the job falls off the resume again and no one cares). – BrianH Dec 1 '18 at 16:49

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