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I just got hired at a small company. I am doing part-time research/development work, mostly from home. Sometimes I feel like I am taking too long to complete tasks, so I am wondering if I should continue to do my work off the clock. I care more about maintaining my relationship with this company than making money (right now). How can I know how long I'm supposed be taking to complete projects? Is it a good idea to clock out early and continue to work?

  • You don't have any prior experience? – Kilisi Jan 26 at 10:05
  • I would like to emphasize that working free overtime while being uncertain whether you're slow is a bad idea. It will lead to you getting distorted feed back - how will you ever know you're performing adequately? When you have an idea of how long you normally take and are unhappy, it's fine to put in a bit of time to achieve your goals, but only when you're sure of your abilities. – bytepusher Jan 26 at 23:34
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TL;DR: Communication, and more communication.

Working from home can easily give a feeling of not being fast enough, or of slacking off too much, etc. Don't worry, many people who work from home have that feeling. Also, it's expected of new hires to be relatively slow while getting their feet wet.

It's not a bad idea to ask your manager how they feel about your progress after e.g. one month of having been in that company. It will show that you're willing to improve yourself.

You should also give very frequent updates on what you've been working on. Maybe send daily or weekly reports (if it's not mandatory already), or just dump some updates on the project chat.

Also, when you are assigned a task, ask how long this is expected to take. If you're getting stuck somewhere, don't spend too long trying to figure it out, ask for help instead. It's cheaper for the company if a senior developer spends 10 minutes of their time to tell you where to look than if you spend two or three days trying to figure it out.

Again: Don't stress out about it. Just focus on getting your work done and on communicating enough.

EDIT: Don't do unreported overtime. It's a bad idea. It will just give them false expectations of what you can do while at the same time burn you out. If they find out, it might reflect negatively - at the very least, it will show that you're prone to being exploited. You'd undermine yourself in the long run, in many ways.

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This is a bad idea for several reasons.

  1. You are devaluing yourself by working for free. The money might not be super important at the moment but it isn't the kind of compromise you want to get yourself accustomed to doing.
  2. You are deceiving your company. Sure they might keep you on if they think you are contributing X/per day. But in reality you are doing X/per 2day. Now they bring you on full-time. No way you can keep that pace any longer and the house of cards collapses.
  3. If they find out they are being deceived, they might drop you even when they wouldn't have otherwise.

In the end the best way to determine the expectations of what you will produce is to have a direct discussion with your immediate superior.

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