18

I have a coworker X who is part of my SCRUM team.

Coworker X's desk happens to be right by the front door. The way his cube is setup, gives him clear view on who is entering or/and leaving the building.

We have the same boss, and boss provides us developers a flexible schedule and work from home option as long as we finish development tasks on time (estimation before assigning work is always done by the whole team). This makes me come in late some days, and leave early some other days.

From time to time, whenever coworker X sees me coming in after normal working hours (or leaving early before normal hours), he makes comments and make them sound like he is just joking:

  • I am watching you, coming at XX:YY a.m
  • Look at you, leaving at XX:YY p.m
  • etc

I did not care at first, but now I am annoyed by his comments since he now does it every time, and when people are around (standing by his cube, or by the front door).

I would like this teasing to stop. How can I resolve it without making it formal (Not through boss)?

  • @JoeStrazzere Don't know he will stop but I agree ignore. – paparazzo Dec 4 '18 at 22:32
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    @JoeStrazzere That's exactly what I was doing, until he started doing it in front of people (I still completely ignore it) – Sandra K Dec 5 '18 at 3:03
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    Or tell him "if you have a problem with that, take it up with my boss" – Mawg says reinstate Monica Dec 5 '18 at 8:08
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    I've been in this situation, had an agreement to come in 15 minutes later, always got remarks 'good afternoon!!!' etc. from this one guy. It never stopped. This + other remarks from him, and he got other people involved as well. I ignored it for months and eventually it became too much and I just quit. 10+ jobs since then never had any problems with anyone. I'd say going nuclear would be the only option. – NibblyPig Dec 5 '18 at 10:06
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    "If you work hard, and do your job on time you could too" usually work – SZCZERZO KŁY Dec 5 '18 at 10:39
21

You say this coworker is part of your Scrum team, so I'd start by bringing it up during your next retrospective. You need to be able to work as a team, and you need to be able to feel safe around your team mates, so this is a good place to start.

You don't even need to call the person out; probably your entire team knows what's going on anyway. Just mention that you don't appreciate the tracking of hours and that if anyone feels other people aren't putting in enough effort, they should just say so. That way, lack of effort can be dealt with directly. If there is any kind of underlying problem (whether it's jealousy about your flexible hours, or a feeling that you aren't pulling your weight, or whatever) there's a chance for that to surface. If there isn't, you've made your displeasure with the situation clear and your colleague doesn't even really need to say anything. If he keeps doing it, you have something to refer back to and he knows it'll come up again in front of the team, and you can totally call him out on it personally the second time you need to bring it up.

So I noticed that some people seem to be tracking the arrival and departure time of team mates. That makes me feel [uncomfortable/monitored/treated like a child] and I don't like it. If anyone feels that I, or another team member, isn't putting in enough effort, I'd like to hear about that, so we can do something about it. Otherwise, I'd like to ask for these comments to stop, as they are not productive.

  • @SandraK why are they are not there? Random occurence or structural problem? If it can't wait, I'd call a team meeting and take the same approach; just explain that you'd rather not wait until the whole team is compelete for a retro because it's bothering you. – Erik Dec 5 '18 at 19:14
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    @SandraK I'd personally bring it up in an extra meeting with the guy present. Indirection doesn't help communication at all. – Erik Dec 5 '18 at 20:34
  • I like the escalation plan of this answer. This way I do not have to do it on one-to-one but also not to expose him in front of the boss or the team. If he does not get the message in the retro meeting, and he keeps doing it, I will go to the next level. – Sandra K Dec 6 '18 at 14:04
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    This is not an appropriate thing to bring up in a development retrospective, in the same way that it would not be appropriate to say you feel you are being underpaid or you think certain, unspecified, team members have bad person hygiene. This will certainly make for a very awkward meeting. – Frayt Dec 8 '18 at 0:58
  • @Frayt I don't think those are comparable situations. Feeling underpaid is a problem between you and the person paying you (which generally isn't "the team") and bad personal hygiene is awkward mostly because it's embarrassing for the person involved. This guy is just being a dick and making his team uncomfortable with intentional behavior, and he should feel a bit awkward about it. You're supposed to be able to trust your team and feel they have your back; and pointing out non-helpful personal behavior is a part of that. – Erik Dec 8 '18 at 9:10
17

Lot of answers here involve sarcastic exchange with your co-worker. I think that is unnecessary. Just meet with him informally during a break and tell him:

I know you only mean as a joke but can you please not announce my entry and exit times everyone. We all have option for flexible work schedule and our boss has approved mine. I am not comfortable when you announce it.

I would expect this to stop at this point. However, if it still does not, you should directly go to your boss and explain the same thing to him instead of getting into exchanges with your co-worker.

  • 3
    I find this to be the most sensible approach. Simply pointing out that what they are doing is bothersome and inappropriate should end it there. After that its just a matter of addressing the boss if it continues. – Sierra Mountain Tech Dec 5 '18 at 13:12
13

You can always tease him back. If your boss is fine with your schedule he does not have any power over you except for being a nuisance. If you are acting uncomfortable you are giving him the power to make you uncomfortable. Some ways I can think of:

  • Hey look I just came at 10 AM and leaving at 2 PM!
  • Wow Mr. Model Employee always here and ready. You sleep here too?

You get the idea.

  • 17
    Or the time-honored "so you don't have anything to do? You just are the doorman now?". – DaveG Dec 4 '18 at 20:57
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    Or the lovely "At least I've finished my tasks, bye" – William-H-M Dec 4 '18 at 20:59
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    Just so we're all on the same page, what he's doing is not teasing, it's harassment. He's trying to make you look bad to other team members. So don't ignore him, that never makes a bully stop. Or at least don't ignore him if he's doing it in public, then you need to remind him in front of the witnesses that yes, being a developer does have some really nice privileges about flexible time, sorry he can't get that too (with a joke if you can muster that, I like the doorman one above). But don't let him set an example of walking all over you to the whole department – user90842 Dec 5 '18 at 1:27
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    "Don't you wish you were a dev"? – Mawg says reinstate Monica Dec 5 '18 at 8:08
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    I am a dev myself, and might be tempted to respond that way. But, if you do, there is no going back & you have probably made an enemy who will try to sabotage you at every turn – Mawg says reinstate Monica Dec 5 '18 at 15:27
10

Indicate how empty those observations are

X: I am watching you, coming at XX:YY a.m.!

SK: And...?

An approach like this suggests that the observations are meaningless (which is actually the case here), and so not really worth making. It also forces X to come up with something else to say on the topic, and if they are making the same sorts of references each day they may well come up empty.

More involved responses might also work, but more engagement provides more fodder for future comments along the same lines. Not giving X anything else to work with makes continuing with those comments a bit awkward, which might discourage him or her. Even if the comments continue, you've indicated your disdain for them and can reasonably move on to simply not responding at all fairly quickly.

Point out how repetitive the observations are

X: I am watching you, coming at XX:YY a.m.!

SK: You've mentioned that, about a thousand times. It might be time for a new bit, this one's played out.

This risks engagement, and could lead to X believing that you are interested in "banter" around the topic ("banter" in quotes because this is particularly uncreative). But it also indicates the repetitiveness of the comments, and how uninteresting they are as a result (or not; a comment like these might rise to the level of almost funny, the first time it's uttered).

It's embarrassing to make a joke no one thinks is funny, and much worse to do so with the same joke over and over again. Suggesting that these "jokes" are dull may discourage them from continuing.

Speak with X quietly and directly

You know X, and I do not, so this might not be as workable a solution as I imagine. But X might care how you feel about the comments, especially if he or she is intending them to be lighthearted camaraderie. After finding or creating a moment in which you can talk to X privately:

SK: You've made comments about my coming to and going from the office at irregular times kind of often. I don't really like it [anymore (if you're feeling generous to X)], would you be willing to stop?

You can also mention people getting the wrong impression, if employees that may not know about your boss' flexibility are sometimes around:

SK: You keep saying things like that, and while you and I know about [boss'] scheduling policies not everyone does. I'm concerned that some people might get the wrong impression about our work schedules, if they haven't already. Could you cut back a bit?

  • 2
    These strategies assume that you're talking to a rational human being, or one who isn't quite aware of what he's doing. But reasoning with bullies never works, all you'd be doing him is showing that you understand what he's doing. And what's needed is instead for him to stop. – user90842 Dec 5 '18 at 1:31
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    @GeorgeM Bully != irrational, and there is no indication from the OP that this coworker is either. Even if the coworker is a bully, (1) and (2) could still be effective. If the coworker is irrational then there is no approach that can produce a predictable solution which doesn't involve going through official channels, which the OP wishes to avoid. You seem to have strong views on the situation, based on comments-- perhaps you should post your own answer. – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Dec 5 '18 at 15:31
6

My approach would be a little different than the other answers. I like to solve problems directly, so I might try this:

When you are leaving early and he says "Hey, look at you leaving at XX:yy". I would say "Yeah, Is that not ok? I've noticed you have been mentioning it a lot."

I imagine he will come up with some excuse and never say it to you again.

It's my guess this person is just trying to talk to you because they like you. I doubt they are trying to single you out for this.

  • 1
    This is the most professional response by far---no escalation, no boss, no meeting---just a clean reply that shows you take his comments seriously but not personally. – krubo Apr 27 at 8:43
2

Two suggestions:

A)
React like your work begin / end is absolutely normal and obviously self evident (as it is).

Don't engage him in a way that lets him perceive you feel guilty, are irritated or "set back" by his remarks.

Answer non chalantly "yup" or "yeah", if you're feeling bold, let him know
you "thought it's a good time to work" or "gotta go, need my beauty sleep"
even joke about "you were on your way to the airport heading to (insert exotic holiday destination) but didn't want to leave him alone here"

... or any variations that convey that your behaviour is above reproach, start / end times are fine as they are, you're the "good guy" doing nothing wrong and he's being silly or petty.

Make sure you work your contractual weekly hours (bill accurately on your worksheets, gather proof in case of disputes).
It's even better if you do overtime every now and then.
Any discussion his remarks might trigger with him, your colleagues or your boss would basically end once you point the above fact out.
(obviously along with the flexi time scheme your company offers)

Also, the guy actually embarasses himself in front of people ignoring that conventional office hours are not standard / required in your company.

If you were doing overtime the previous day you may also mention something along the lines of

"and yesterday I did X hours" or "and yesterday I started at X hours and left at Y"

You could also point out

"it'll be a long day", "I'll stay later today", "guess I'll be here at diner time today" or something alike.

This emphasizes that you do your due time but it does validate his accusation somewhat.

Keep your reaction calm and reserved, without hesitation or uneasiness.

Once he realizes you're not phazed by his remarks he'll probably get bored and stop.

The above reaction is also really effective if your boss or other colleagues are present.
It removes any doubts about your working hours they may have after hearing his comment.

If you'd be appologetic, say "sorry" or react in a manner that may seem you know what you did is somehow not correct he'd win by raising others concerns' about your behaviour.

B)
Another approach would be to have a private, frank talk, asking him why he thinks your times are somehow inappropriate.

Let him know (after his answer and if applicable) that you follow company policy, adhere to your contractual hours and do your work mostly at home, as it is allowed and that you don't appreciate his remarks.

I prefer A) but either way, if he doesn't stop and you're really getting annoyed or think, people may get upset with you about this you should go the formal route and include your manager or HR in your concerns.

  • Orr mention total hours worked at the scrum, when he is present? Especially if there was overtime. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Dec 5 '18 at 8:10
1

I wonder what country you work in? In Scotland, when someone leaves early - even every day, as part of their standard working schedule - someone will say "ooh look at you, part timer!" or "lucky for some, eh?" or "off early again I see!" or something along those lines. It is literally as meaningless as commenting on the weather, or saying "phew - nearly Friday!" on a Thursday, or any of the other bland meaningless ways in which we fill the air with noise!

While I totally understand that you feel it's a dig, could it just be what passes for office chit-chat? If so, since it will be understood by your co-workers as such, making any serious attempt to stop it will make you look a bit touchy; or worse still you'll look as if you 'protest too much' as the saying goes, and that you are skiving, and are annoyed because you've been busted!

0

Maybe just a simple response of "I'm watching you... Sitting at your desk."

He's stating an obvious, and fairly irrelevant fact. You could respond in kind.

or

"I work fast, so I leave early..."

I don't think he would have a clever response to that. The insinuation of course, is that you're leaving early because you're fast and efficient, and he is still there because he's slow and inefficient, hardly worthy of bragging rights.

Ultimately though, your colleague is clearly just jealous. Try not to take it too seriously.

Having said that though, you may need to be a bit careful with this. If you are consistently getting the work finished early, and leaving early, your boss might realise that he's not assigning you enough work.

  • reason for the downvotes? – user1751825 Apr 17 at 23:36

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