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To cut a long story short, I prefer working in the mornings - and with the recent world situation I am working 100% from home, so it's even easier for me not having to deal with all the traffic etc.

I usually work around 6-14, +- 30 minutes. The rest of my team start anywhere from 7 to 10 in the morning. As far as I know everyone is expected to be available 10-13. The rest is up to individual workers, that's why I am working the hours I do. I am available during the core hours. This arrangement was one of the stronger points I considered when joining this company.

I got a situation today that my boss said he is not happy with my working hours, because a task wasn't done by the end of the day. I am honestly baffled by this and tried to explain that if a task takes 12 hours to complete, it doesn't matter at what time of the day I put my 8 hours in, it's still going to take 2 days (well, 1.5).

After a bit of chat I got the following argument: yeah, but some people are noticing you're not here at this and that hour. This leads me to believe this is not actually about the task, but it's a "people are talking" situation.

I was unsuccessful drilling deeper about the issue, so I scheduled a call for tomorrow to talk with him. Is there any line of questioning that would help me get down to what my boss is really on about?

EDIT: So, if anyone is curious about the resolution, I had a chat with my boss today and what I was able to gather was:

  • Some higher-up tried to reach a team member during an emergency (this person was having a day-off)
  • The higher-up didn't try to contact anyone else. He then complained to my boss that "noone is available from your team during x hour, it's unacceptable" (which is a lie, at least 4 other team members were online and ready to help if somebody asked) |
  • Turns out my teammates got a similar message from my boss (but it was about some other things "I'm worried you're not testing enough; I'm worried you refuse to help people outside of your team" - everyone got some sort of fault, so it seems it was just let's throw some accusations and see what sticks.

So it's probably all just a "my boss yelled at me, so now I'm yelling at you" situation. A shame really, but my boss is well, a boss, since 4 months, probably not very good with the whole management thing yet.

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  • Do your colleagues know you start working this early? To people that start at 10 it might seems you only work 4 hours. Nov 13 '20 at 13:42
  • ...at this and that hour... Are those hours outside of your scheduled workday?
    – BSMP
    Nov 13 '20 at 18:14
  • Is it possible, that your colleagues need something from you between 14:00 and 18:00, e.g. they have questions that only you can answer, they want you to check their pull requests etc, and their work is blocked because of it? Nov 13 '20 at 20:23
  • 2
    To clarify some things - JoeStrazzere that's what I asked and why the "I was unsuccessful in drilling" part is there. thieupepjin, no that's not him :). SirDuckduck yes everyone from my team knows I start early. BSMP yes, they meant hours after my "shift" has ended. lawful_neutral not that I'm aware of, we are expected to take care of it between 10-13 when everyone is guaranteed to be online.
    – Yuropoor
    Nov 13 '20 at 21:00
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You should ask your boss what the core hours policy is.

An issue with working different hours to others is that you're not available for up to half the time they are working. Say you have a colleague who needs some information from you at 2.35pm. They might be working for another 4 hours, but they have to wait until the following day. If it's a time-sensitive query, then this could cause some problems.

For most of us work is a collaborative effort. The less accessible somebody is, the harder it is to collaborate.

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  • As far as I know everyone is expected to be available 10-13. The rest is up to individual workers, that's why I am working the hours I do. I am available during the core hours. This arrangement was one of the stronger points I considered when joining this company.
    – Yuropoor
    Nov 12 '20 at 21:19
  • 4
    OP's description indicates that the task did not require collaboration. This is why they were confused as to why the boss was asking about hours. And this is why the boss admitted that it wasn't directly related.
    – HenryM
    Nov 13 '20 at 6:00
  • 1
    @HenryM I've re-read the question 3 times and I don't see where the OP states that there is no collaboration involved in their role. Nov 13 '20 at 8:07
  • 1
    @user1666620 "yeah, but" indicates that the boss is agreeing with OP that the task wasn't late due to a lack of collaboration on this specific task. I wasn't talking about their job in general. Re-reading your answer, I see that you're only talking generally. Flex schedules are a thing. Lots of people figure out how to make it work. It does take communicating with co-workers as needed.
    – HenryM
    Nov 13 '20 at 13:19
  • 1
    Asking about the policy is normally good, but in this case where OP already has his special hours as an established norm, it risks him loosing this, because boss now defines a policy that forbids it once he is reminded that's a way to deal with it... so maybe not in OP's best interest... Nov 15 '20 at 9:20
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Your boss said: "yeah, but some people are noticing you're not here at this and that hour".

Translation: "I want you to know that I'm not pleased with you. The reason for that isn't a business reason so I can't state it without being unprofessional but I can find plausible business sounding reasons to punish you. Let me demonstrate."

I once had a job where I was explicitly given a 100% flex schedule as a condition of my signing up. When I made the mistake of rubbing the boss the wrong way (accidentally embarrassing him by fixing mistakes in his work that was within my area of responsibility) he started acting just like your boss is. It got so bad I thought I was going to be fired any day but that never happened. I think he got over it after maybe 6 months but I always had to look over my shoulder.

To answer your question directly: If your boss's motives are unprofessional as I think, there's no way he will admit it to you. All you can do is not give him ammunition to use against you. Keep doing whatever you're officially allowed to. Cut out the stuff you aren't. If I dealt with the same situation again I would have transferred to a different department.

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  • I disagree here. I read it more as "I'm not sure if you're actually putting your hours in or you're slacking off and I'd like you to be available for questions while the other developers are, so you can support each other". There's no indication that this is a non-business problem. Nov 13 '20 at 8:51
  • @SanderSkovgaardHansen Perhaps. I suspect the boss didn't communicate priorities well (or OP did not ask, which is something I always recommend). Just guessing.
    – HenryM
    Nov 13 '20 at 13:14
  • 2
    @SanderSkovgaardHansen Except asking someone to do a 12 hour task in 8 hours isn't reasonable, which was the boss' starting point for this conversation. If the boss really just wants to take away the flextime benefit, he should just say that. Starting from an unreasonable complaint and following up with the vague specter of "other people" really does come across as him flailing for a reason to criticize the OP.
    – BSMP
    Nov 13 '20 at 18:27
  • 1
    @BSMP I think you hit the nail on the head with the quote: The boss really wanted that task done and thought OP wasn't pulling their weight. After half-accusing them learning that they did put in their hours they didn't want to backtrack and brought up the rest - or rather deflected towards that. Likely they asked about the task and got told that the responsible dev already left. That soured them and now they cannot take their little attack back without loosing face. They might also tell themselves that OP should have put in extra hours to get that important stuff done. Nov 15 '20 at 9:24
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There is no way people could notice you're not there unless you're logging into a domain or other sort of software or uncontactable. So it's easy to prove you worked 8 hours, they just need to check the logs.

So let the manager know this and move forwards from his/her response. If they need you between certain hours, they'll let you know.

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I would ask directly if your working hour make frustration with your colleagues, and if it's the cause of the discussion.

Working hours not aligned with other co-workers can bring frustration as it leave less time for co-worker to ask for help in example, and it limit the interaction you can have with the team.

I did some out of hour shift on my side, and leaving early was hard when I talked to other colleagues, and a lot of them though that in the morning it was easy to do less.

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