A few months ago, I moved teams within my company. I need to keep supporting some things I created for the old team, with no definite end date. That team has an expectation that anyone on the team can ask you to get on an audio (+screenshare) call at any time, and that they don't need to provide context - e.g., "got a minute?" or "jump on a call?". They're typically 5-15 minutes, but could be hour+ conference calls.

These calls took up a lot of time. I've asked explicitly (and encouraged implicitly) that if they have questions, can they send me/instant me/ask me the questions ahead of time, and give me time to work on them offline. I've written this in documentation, emails, meeting invites, instant messages, and said it during calls. It gets either ignored or shot down - e.g., "I'd rather do a call"; "it's too much work to explain"; "it has to be now".

Is it reasonable for me to expect that calls and meetings have some context, and that I don't want to drop what I'm doing at any moment for a 40 minute impromptu conference call?

Even if it is reasonable, it's not happening. Should I give up?

If there were a definite end date for my supporting the old team, it would help but not eliminate these requests, because they ask me to get on calls for projects unrelated to what I'm supporting. There's an expectation from my manager that this isn't permanent, but there hasn't been any talk (or action) about hiring or training someone to take over the work.

  • what are you trying to achieve? what have you tried? Jul 25, 2019 at 4:59
  • 2
    Say you are busy on X today, but will have time at 14.00 tomorrow - this may help reduce the “facile” questions by those who show no effort but want their work done by another...
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 25, 2019 at 5:41
  • At the very least, I want to avoid going into calls totally unprepared and waste time looking for answers while on the call. What I’m hoping Is that having to write their questions down will get them to ask better questions or figure them out because they had to think them through. I guess I'm describing stack exchange. As for suggesting an alternate time, if the person has a manager or above title, they say no and it must be sooner. Sometimes they’ll just call anyway when I say I can’t talk.
    – user327301
    Jul 25, 2019 at 6:11
  • Do they come to your place in person of through some IM/calling application?
    – max630
    Jul 25, 2019 at 9:23
  • @perplexed_worker, you might consider leaving questions open (without an accepted answer) longer - perhaps a few days - in the future. You'll likely find that you get a more diverse set of perspectives in the answers.
    – Jay
    Jul 25, 2019 at 14:00

1 Answer 1


Measure how much time you spend on these ad-hoc support requests, and then set up a meeting with your manager to discuss it and ask for their support in dealing with it.

You'll get much better results when you can say "This has taken 10 hours of my time over the last two weeks, not to mention that it breaks my flow, slowing down my work on my other tasks", rather than a gut feeling that you can't quantify, even though you know it's happening.

It's then up to your manager to decide whether they're fine with it, or whether they agree with you that it's a bad use of your time and help you deal with the other team in a more mutually productive way.

  • 1
    Also, make it clear to the manager that whilst you are happy to do whatever work is required you've moved on and would like to leave the old stuff behind.
    – Vorsprung
    Jul 25, 2019 at 9:46

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