Our office is very strict when it comes to timings(And by strict I mean getting emails from HR every other day and no one listening). I always go to office on time. Majority of the people in my department come late, some even 2 or 3 hours late. So to supplement this they leave late to work their hours. I leave early as I come on time and also complete my work on time.

Once my manager gave me a lecture about how I should make it a habit of staying late in this company. People who spend more time in the company are more successful. The thing is, nobody in the company is working extra time. Everyone leaves when they complete their hours. Since these people leave late, people think that they are working more than others. Another time when I was leaving on exact time(and had even completed all my work). He called me to his desk and asked me where I was going which I replied that I was going home. He gave me a weird look and told me to go.

How should I deal with this situation?

*EDIT*To the people who are saying that I might not be completing my tasks.I complete all of my days tasks before leaving the office.The project manager is usually late but when he comes early he sees me sitting around.And Yes I have proof that No late comer is working extra because we have an attendance sheet placed at the company reception. Not only the HR but the manager also emphasizes that we come on time.I think my company's ideology is those people who come early and leave late( whether or not you have any work) are hard workers.

  • 1
    Does your manager come in on time or does he also arrive late and leave late? Could be he doesn't see you there early, which would be a different and perhaps easier conversation.
    – jcmeloni
    Jul 16, 2013 at 13:24
  • 3
    Uhmmm.. so just adjust your timings and move your clock by two hours and see if that works in your favor. In my experience You really can't do much with bosses of such mentality. Jul 16, 2013 at 15:19
  • 5
    "The thing is, nobody in the company is working extra time. Everyone leaves when they complete their hours." How do you know, if you always leave on time / early?
    – user145
    Jul 16, 2013 at 15:46
  • 2
    How are you defining "on time"? I'd say that "at the time my boss expects" is a good definition, and by that standard, you are not "on time". Jul 16, 2013 at 16:50
  • 6
    Once my manager gave me a lecture about how I should make it a habit of staying late in this company. This and this ALONE should be enough motivation for you to resign.
    – crmpicco
    Jul 17, 2013 at 10:35

6 Answers 6


Clarify the Norms

Rather than getting defensive, I recommend asking the boss if it's preferable for you to work the same time frames as your colleagues. Point out that you know there's a real motivation from HR to arrive on time, but that you notice that normal behavior in the office is to arrive after working hours.

Ask him whether it's preferable that you:

  • arrive on time, and leave on time
  • arrive late and leave late

It sounds like the HR warnings are simply not a big deal - the bigger deal, in your supervisor's opinion, is that the team be together in the later hours.

Make your supervisor clarify this - and then figure out if you are willing to change your life accordingly. Working late is great for some people and horrible for others - if this environment doesn't make you happy, find a different workplace.

Give it a Shot

Assuming the boss concurs, that arriving late and getting warnings from HR is less important than working the same hours as the rest of the team - shift your schedule and see how it goes. What's occuring late at night?

What I read in your question is that you assume that your colleagues are leaving after a shift that is equally as long as your own... only later in the day. Is that something you have proof of, or something you've assumed from talking to people? Being around the same time as the team will give you a sense of when they really go home.

It'll also give you a sense of what happens in those later hours. It can be an unspoken thing that certain team communication just happens to occur later in the day. If your boss is there and your team is there, and you're not, they may be frustrated because they can't talk to you and know your part of the work. It would be far more preferable for your boss to be able to clarify this, and adjust the time of this communication, but not every boss is so smart.

Work with your Boss to Define "Enough"

These days, salaried work does not mean 40 hours. It means working until all the work is complete. It's worth it to clarify what "enough" work really is.

For example - in a team working with weekly assignments (like agile software developers) - "complete" means that the whole team has finished the work for the week. If someone finishes their currebt assignment early, they take on work from someone else who is behind. The goal is that team can complete its work, not that a single individual can start and finish what he takes on. It's understood that each week, some work will be harder and some work will be easier, and tasks get juggled, and feedback is given accordingly.

If you're doing what you were told to do, and nothing more, it may not be enough in a team like this - and if the team is reallocating work late at night, you're missing the opportunity to hear about the problems and take on rebalanced work, which means that in the boss' eyes, you are doing less work than other team members, regardless of the rules of coming in on time.

After working late some nights, and getting a sense for whether there are communication patterns you were missing, or added work that you needed to take on - check in with the boss. Talk to him about your observations, and ask him for feedback. If nothing else - it shows you care.

What if I hate this?

It's really up to you. There are offices where punctuality is important, and bosses who judge people by how early they get in in the morning, and not how late they stay. Every office is different and this may not be the right place for you.

But you won't know unless you try.

Playing by the formal rules clearly isn't working - your boss has expressed unhappiness, and you know that you follow a different pattern than your colleagues. You'll have to figure out whether the pattern of the team is something you can deal with in your home life. And if you hate it, you'll need to figure out what your other options are. Generally, they are likely to be:

  • work the hours you prefer, and sacrifice opportunities in the current company
  • find a company with better hours for your personal needs
  • 2
    +1. Also an option I didn't think about - of course he can always leave the company.
    – mike
    Jul 16, 2013 at 14:43
  • Salaried work may also mean that you work until you are done, but any overtime is then compensated with time off later. Jul 18, 2013 at 7:47
  • Possibly - I was trying to cut short the many variations on how people are rewarded, and just stick to the general point that "salary" is a bulk compensation and "hourly" is hour per hour. Jul 18, 2013 at 21:57

Address this issue. If you don't clarify it, your boss will bit by bit develop a picture of you being lazy, not caring about the company, etc...

Have a talk with him and tell him you have the feeling that there is a misunderstanding.

Explain the reasons why you want to be home earlier - preferably kids and wife, and not to watch the new episode of xyz - and show him that you care about the company.

Have some facts to back it up, quality of work, you always do your time despite going home earlier.

But be cautious not to degrade your colleagues, when you talk about the working hours!

  • 7
    This is about equal hours worked for all employees, not about him spending time with his family or watching TV
    – jmorc
    Jul 16, 2013 at 12:11
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    Of course it is! What I'm saying is there is always a subtext, and he should be careful what message he sends with his actions.
    – mike
    Jul 16, 2013 at 12:17
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    +1 CYA: "Have facts to back it up". How many hours do I work? 40. How many hours to "they" work? 40. Why am I leaving 2 hours before John? Because John got here at 10, 2 hours after me. Here are tasks X, Y, Z done on time, and A, B, C that are on track as I'm expected to do. What am I doing that's not meeting my obligations?
    – WernerCD
    Jul 16, 2013 at 13:25
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    @WernerCD Sounds a little bit hostile, I don't think this approach would be as fruitful as one would intend ;)
    – mike
    Jul 16, 2013 at 14:42
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    @Mike I've never been good at "Politiking", personally, so the tone could probably use some polish... but the general idea is using the facts to cover what's right. Where I work we have over-lapping shifts (7am-5pm, 8hs, ~2 hours overlap). Should I feel angry at those who leave early? No, because they work 40 hours - just like I do. If I show up 2 hours earlier, and leaves 2 hours earlier- why should I be the focus of bosses ire that I'm leaving 2 hours before them? Tone is definitely important though :)
    – WernerCD
    Jul 16, 2013 at 14:59

You should discuss your concerns with your boss, but be prepared that if you are going to take the line that you work 40 hours a week and that is all you are prepared to do under normal circumstances, it may not go over well. Some work places have a culture where you need to work log hours. That may not be for you, and that is fine. But you may need to look for another job, if you confirm that yours requires a work life balance that is a unnatural or untenable for you in order for you to succeed at the company.


I don't know if your boss is trying to help you or not. If he wants you to stay until 6:00 he should just say so.

However, he may want you to learn how to play the game to make his job easier. Imagine he tries to ask his boss to give you a big bonus, but you're known as "that guy who leaves early?"

If possible, try to quantify the amount of work you're doing compared to your coworkers. Don't just go to your boss and proclaim you get more done without being able to back it up. People there probably assume it is just "common sense" that if you put in more hours, you'd get more done. Not usually the case with programming. Burnout, errors and too many other bad things can happen.

Consider having more contact with people during those early hours. Respond to email. Turn in reports and other documenation. Check in code. Ask questions. If someone wants to know when they can schedule a meeting: first thing in the morning is usually open.

While working in a corporate office, I didn't take kindly to those, "Leaving already?" comments. I told one person I got more done before they showed up for work than they did the whole day. Word got around really quick that I wasn't going to take that. I get along with a lot of people, but it's not because I put up with nonsense. Punching a clock isn't the only way to show you care about your job and bring value.

  • 1
    Consider having more contact with people during those early hours. Respond to email. If you can get several emails sent out each morning in the first 15-30 minutes you're there, it will be obvious to everyone that receives your emails that you were already hard at work when they hadn't even left home yet. Aug 17, 2015 at 17:22

Ask your boss which hours he prefers you to work. This way he will know when the expected time of your arrival and leave is.

  • TBF, the OP has already said that the boss has suggested he should work more hours/stay late so I think he's got the answer to that.
    – crmpicco
    Jul 17, 2013 at 13:49
  • @crmpicco but the manager may not be aware that he also comes in earlier than the others. Jul 18, 2013 at 7:48
  • When I red that I interpreted it to mean the manager wants him to stay later but presumably arrive later. Is the manager really telling him to stay latter without getting paid?
    – Jslam
    Jul 22, 2013 at 18:32
  • @Jslam, in the US where salaried people are not paid overtime, yes a boss may very well be suggesting he work more hours without being paid. ANd politically , it is best to be there at night often for teh boss to see you working extra because he may not have noticed that you oare only working 8 hours but started later.
    – HLGEM
    Aug 27, 2013 at 18:57
  • @HLGEM this may impress the boss but it is unfair to the employee to work hours he is not paid for, therefore it's not really a solution. Surely there are laws in the US wk wihtout pay?
    – Jslam
    Aug 27, 2013 at 19:28

Fixing cars is an 8 to 5 occupation. If you're not in the shop you can't be producing anything. Software development is as much an issue of understanding as it is execution - until you understand the problem you can't design a fix, and once you understand how to fix a problem it is, in some cases, a few minutes at the keyboard and you're done. Of course, sometimes it's also a recognition you used the wrong language and architecture, and have to start over.

What it sounds like is you're working for an organization that doesn't know how to manage creative talent in general, or software developers in particular. If the HR emails are resulting in pay getting docked or negative reviews, the fairly immediate consequence is that people leave. Any time I find myself in that situation I usually bail - employers confuse punctuality with effectiveness.

Slideshow titled 'What's wrong with the Indian IT Industry'

The above link refers to a particular presentation related to a particular country, however this applies to operations 'everywhere' - many software operations are 'job shops' and aren't particularly innovative. They only make 'normal profits', which means that they earn enough to stay in business. Certain other businesses that do innovate make 'economic profits', which means they can reward investors. Specific businesses are mentioned in the presentation. These point out extremes, others can be judged in that framework.

When managers are focused on clock hours, and employees on 'credentials' such as degrees and certifications, neither are focused on the needs of users. Invalid metrics are in use: measuring the wrong thing means incentives are rewarding unhelpful behavior. The market judgment is final: many businesses are just barely alive at the end of the day.

A lot of managers and employees think in terms of 'units' - so many widgets made per hour or tables served or lines of code written. Creative work is a 'whole body', one 2 hour film has a bad and forgettable comedy, another has a highly popular SCI-FI space war, both use about the same amount of material and run for the same duration, one flopped and the other is still watched 30 years later, with multiple sequels. Most apps are 'zombies', few if any downloads, others, requiring the same amount of work to create, are downloaded every second.

Focusing on users needs means figuring out what the problems are, not necessarily what one is being asked to do. I've run into government contracts repeatedly tell me what to do, however I see the solution that would be 'best' is something radically different. Thus I have tended to avoid such contracts, and focused on businesses where I can design the appropriate solution. The customer doesn't care how many hours I work, what hours of the day I work, what my degree is, or what I'm wearing when I'm writing code, the only thing they know is their problem gets solved. One has to become obsessive about finding better ways of getting the customer what they want, including ways the customer can't even imagine.

  • 1
    Actualy it sounds like there is a simple miss communication between the author and the manager. It also sounds like HR is sending out emails and not acting on anything.
    – Donald
    Jul 16, 2013 at 16:35
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    This is not merely a case of miscommunication. Very few individual managers or companies know how to manage creative projects, engineers, or software developers. It would not surprise me that this a retail business of some sort and expects staff company wide to show up when the doors open. Software shops should, in general, be kept separate from other lines of business, so that round pegs aren't pounded into square holes. Jul 16, 2013 at 17:31
  • This is not a retail shop.It is a company with dozens of software developers,testers and customer support guys.I am a software developer.
    – zzzzz
    Jul 17, 2013 at 12:09
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    @MeredithPoor What has this got to do with the Indian IT Industry? Jul 18, 2013 at 10:38
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    I have tried to reread this answer several times. It is not a good answer because it reads poorly and is not easily followed. However I think there is a good core of information in it but it could really do with a "here is the short answer/here is why/summary" edit to make it more understandable. Oct 9, 2013 at 21:33

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