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I'm a salaried worker (IT), our contract requires us to work 37.5 hours a week.

We can be flexible with what hours we work, we record what hours we work on a time sheet.

While we can be flexible, generally it works to work during standard hours as to attend meetings and work in with others.

Myself and some colleagues have been granted permission to work on side projects for four hours a week, to do experimental type work as we see fit, that relates to the business, but isn't necessarily the project that we are otherwise working full time on.

Tonight, it's a Friday, so I've been working on this, got in the zone, and ended up working till 8pm, and overshot my allocated time by two hours.

Now recently my flexi time balance got into the negative by a couple of hours, due to getting in late. If I log this time it'll be about even.

Is it a good idea to log this time, or just record it short?

The work I've been doing tonight has been work related, and you argue that I'm honing my skills/becoming familiar with the data etc, but on the other hand from a business point of view, you can't be paying your employees to do whatever they want.

  • My workplace has the ability to log hours to specific projects, but we just log them as general hours. – user10911 Oct 18 '13 at 22:44
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Executive Summary

There are two ways to go with this:

  1. Log it as work time and see how it goes
  2. Ask your boss what you should do and accept the consequences

It is Easier to Ask for Forgiveness than Permission

In many companies, the default response to asking for anything is 'no'. If you ask your manager if you can do something, and they say yes, they are required to take responsibility for the outcome, so they will err on the side of caution and say no.

For that reason, it can be much easier not to ask, use common sense to do what you think is appropriate, and then apologize if it turns out to have been the wrong decision.

If your manager is the type who defaults to no, and this does not seem like the type of issue that would cause problems for your manager if it was revealed, then this is a viable way to go.

Just be sure that if you get caught, you apologize unconditionally, and wholeheartedly. And realize that getting caught may make it less likely to get permission in the future if you ask.

Bad Apology

You know boss, I was actually working on work stuff so I don't think that should have been a problem. After all, I was doing something the company asked for.

Better Apology

Sorry for the trouble boss. I thought it wouldn't be an issue but was wrong. I'll be sure to check with you to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future.

The second is a true apology, doesn't make excuses, and makes the manager more likely to stick up for you in the future because it shows empathy for his situation.

Appeal to Authority

If this may have serious consequences for your boss, and/or your boss is a thoughtful human being who actually considers the request before rejecting it, you can appeal to his more rational side when asking for permission.

Often times when people ask permission, they don't sell the necessity of the thing permission is being asked for. The key to getting permission is:

  1. Sell the benefit
  2. Start from 'yes'

Bad Request

Hey boss, I know I'm only supposed to work on that side project for 4 hours a week, but I worked on it 6 hours this week instead. If I don't count the extra 2 hours, I won't meet my 37.5 hours this week. Is it okay if I count those extra 2 hours as work?

Better Request

Hey boss, I just got in the zone and made a ton of progress on the side project I've been asked to follow! I was so focused, I got 3 weeks of progress done in only 4 hours. I'm going to log that as work time this week, but I'll make up for it next week if required. There's no problem with that, right?

The second sells what you did as the right decision, "Look at how much I got done!". Then it tells him what you will do rather than asking for permission, "I'm going to log that additional time as work time". It also gives him two outs. The first is if someone asks, he can say, "He will make up the time next week". The second is that if he disagrees with any part, he can tell you there is a problem with it.

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