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All of my coworkers are happy to "hop online" for a meeting at 7pm or work on something over the weekend. They aren't being asked by our managers to do this and there's no extra pay, they just all choose to do it. They all work through their lunch break. I'm the only one on my team who doesn't do any of these. We had to give our phone numbers out for emergencies, and they keep texting me after 5pm or on the weekend to ask if I can do something for them right now, or they'll add me to a group chat and keep spamming it late at night about work stuff.

I do my work between 9 and 5, and my manager is generally fine with my work, but all my coworkers are saying that they're disappointed I didn't get back to them last night, or that they're being held up by me not being online on Sunday. Is there anything I can do about this other than leaving or doing free overtime?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 20 at 0:28
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If I were you, I would immediately address the blatant abuse of the emergency phone number. If you are being texted/called at odd hours for work that is clearly not an emergency, I would first let your coworkers know that reaching you at your personal number should only be done in true emergency situations and ask them to please stop. If they continue their harassment, I would block all of your coworkers engaging in this behavior and consider escalating to your manager.

In the future, if you move on to a different company that requires an emergency number, look into getting a virtual phone number so that you can keep work separate from your personal life.

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    If you're expected to be contactable after hours, your employer must provide the device(s) to facilitate said contact. Your personal device is yours, not your employer's.
    – Ian Kemp
    Sep 17 at 11:52
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    @IanKemp: While that is correct for recurring after hours availability - there is a common sense limit based on the nature of the emergency. If there was no prior expectation of you ever needing to be called, then it's understandable that you didn't pre-emptively get a phone for that when something unexpected did arise. However, what you are correct about is that in such a scenario you should not get any flak for not having been available, since there was no reasonable prior expectation for you to be available.
    – Flater
    Sep 17 at 11:58
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    @Flater Yes, I should have said "expected to be routinely contactable after hours".
    – Ian Kemp
    Sep 17 at 12:00
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    While I agree, I would strongly recommend using more tact as it sounds like op is dealing with worker culture, not a few pushy coworkers. I would recommend op phrasing it in a way that implies they have intractable family or community obligations outside of work and should only be tapped when it's a true emergency. Even though op is fully within their rights, without a suitable reason it could (and sounds like it is) look like op is not being a team player and breed resentment among their coworkers.
    – interduo
    Sep 17 at 15:02
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    Ian, using my own phone doesn’t bother me particularly. I’d rather use my private phone for work than having to carry two phones. However, with my phone plan I have a lot of free minutes and data. What would bother me is getting “emergency” calls all the time.
    – gnasher729
    Sep 17 at 17:55
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Assuming this is USA or Canada (in Asia, long hours are more likely to be expected, in Europe, you're less likely to have coworkers like this) ...

You are doing the right thing. You have satisfied the only employee whose opinion counts, your manager. Tell your coworkers firmly, but empathically, that they have no expectation of your time after hours, and moreover, that they should stop working for free this much (that last part not in front of your boss though).

The downside of this advice is that your coworkers may not like you, but that's not enough to become a slave. Let 'em. In that event, find new people to socialize with at work.

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    Also if coworkers like to work so much, they might consider getting a second (paid) job, freelancing, or asking for a promotion (hopefully not to a position of authority over OP)
    – moonman239
    Sep 16 at 18:31
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    "Tell your coworkers ... that they should stop working for free this much" - I would only tell coworkers this if we're close enough to generally be comfortable advising one another on personal matters. Otherwise this will probably just come across as virtue signalling (which wouldn't really serve any purpose other than making your coworkers like you less). Sep 17 at 10:35
  • "You have satisfied the only employee whose opinion counts, your manager" ... yes, in the workplace culture the original poster expects. And which is probably simply not going to happen in that place. Sep 17 at 11:27
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    @BernhardBarker I think I'd hesitantly agree that a statement like that could be virtue signaling... instead of looking down on those who work extra (unpaid overtime, if hourly... outside of required hours if salaried)... I'd say "Thanks for asking for my help on this, I'll be more than happy to help tomorrow morning/monday morning". If they get that response every time they ask, they'll get the hint soon enough. I'll work extra on occasion (in addition to semi-weekly nightly releases), but generally speaking? When I leave work I'm done until I clock back in. I feel no guilt about it.
    – WernerCD
    Sep 18 at 1:46
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    I agree with part of this answer but most definitely not about telling your coworkers NOT to continue to work the way they do, like them telling you should put more hours in, it’s not of your visit they do assuming your manager is happy with your work.
    – Donald
    Sep 18 at 4:25
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Please make very clear to your colleagues: The fact that they wish to do unpaid overtime after 5pm or on the weekend doesn't make it an emergency, so no justification for calling your private number, which is used for emergencies.

If you answer, first question: "What is the emergency?" And if there is no satisfactory answer, you say "This is not an emergency" and hang up.

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    Or, as the old poster says, "Failure to plan on your part, does not constitute and emergency on my part." If they're working late because they can't get their tasks done in 8 hours a day, it's their problem, not OP's.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 17 at 17:49
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    "Please state the nature of the workplace emergency" Sep 17 at 21:13
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This is not something for you to handle with your coworkers at this point. This is something to specifically talk to your manager about, and if they are not the manager of the other coworkers, then they can navigate those waters with the other manager(s).

The problem is that there is a corporate culture now of working off hours, and everyone else seems to be happy doing it. You can't just ignore that! Their manager(s) clearly are fine with this, and so to that extent you are the blocker here.

You're not wrong to want to work 9-5 - but some corporate cultures just do include this sort of extra work, and you have to get the culture to change, or failing that, at least get some explicit guidance to them about how to handle interactions with you outside of working hours.

That guidance would include guidance to not contact you except for emergencies, and defining emergency (at my workplace, we have various priority levels - Priority 1 is a true emergency, "stopping many people from working right now", and would be the one that people can call others at any hour for.

It also might include guidance to structure their work so that they plan things better - they should plan to ask you questions during working hours, and if things come up, ways to work around it.

I will say that I am one of those people who likes to work other-than-9 to 5 hours, and I manage just fine without expecting coworkers to be on at whatever hour I'm working at. (I usually work 40 hours in total - just I have kids and am in charge of them, so the day gets ... stretched). I'd never think of asking someone to do something at 6pm - if I had an issue I couldn't resolve, I'd put it off until tomorrow and do something else. This is doable - it just takes effort on the part of the person working the unconventional schedule. In today's WFH, Zoom culture, this is more common - and okay - just as long as it doesn't infringe on others' time who don't have the same preference.

Ultimately, this is something you're going to need help with, and your manager is the right person for the task. You also can get their explicit "yes, it's okay that I only work 9-5" - that might make it easier to push back in the future!

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A lot of answers talking about ignoring or otherwise discouraging after-hours calls, but no one has mentioned the other viable approach: getting an overtime agreement.

The problem I'm seeing here is that you don't want to work free overtime. But what if it wasn't free? What if you were able to get compensated for the time you put in above the 40 hours per week?

I find that unless you're being asked to do something illegal, a hard "no" is rarely the best answer in a business environment. Instead, the typical deterrent is cost. A customer wants something absolutely ridiculous? No problem! It's just going to cost a ton of money. Usually when people see the price tags attached to things, they think twice about whether they actually need it. I believe this is the approach you should take here.

Talk to your boss and tell them you are willing to put in the overtime, but you need to be compensated for it. Whether you get to bill the extra hours or take time off in lieu is up to you to negotiate. But attach a price tag to your work and your boss will be very motivated to keep your coworkers in check.

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  • It's not the manager that is asking OP to work overtime, it's the other team mates. And why should OP work odd hours when there is no need to so?
    – sfxedit
    Sep 17 at 22:12
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    @sfxedit The manager is the one who has to sign off on the billable hours. If OP bills overtime and the manager doesn't like it, then it becomes the manager's job to ensure that overtime isn't worked. And in the context of this answer, OP would be working odd hours because they're being paid to do so. It's no longer free overtime. If they don't get paid, then they don't work.
    – aleppke
    Sep 17 at 22:37
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    Why should OP work overtime at all, just because the teammates want to work beyond work hours?? OP completes her work during work hours without complaints. Just because the others prefer working overtime, why should OP too? OP currently doesn't have any problem with the manager - your advise will create problems for her as it is apparent nobody is getting any overtime pay. This seems an indirect passive-aggressive way of getting the manager's attention. Instead, she can just tell the manager about the real issue - the lack of team cordination as team mates want to work different hours.
    – sfxedit
    Sep 18 at 21:16
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    @sfxedit Working overtime is not the problem. Working overtime for free is. If OP wants to spend their evenings and weekends making more money, then that should be a choice available to them. Straight up refusing to do any kind of after-hours work will paint you in a far more negative light and create more problems than asking to be paid for any after-hours work that you do end up doing.
    – aleppke
    Sep 20 at 15:31
  • You miss the point that others have no issues with working overtime without pay. If OP alone asks for overtime pay OP stands out among the team. The manager can just refuse her request, especialy since in the past OP has done all work without needing overtime. Your idea only makes sense if OP can convince everyone to jointly ask for overtime pay.
    – sfxedit
    Sep 21 at 15:31
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The company work culture doesn't fit you. Or you doesn't fit the culture. It's the same thing.

Now, you can try to change the culture or you can try to create some sort of a different culture bubble around you and teach others to respect it. But, it's still you doing extra work, this time preaching a different lifestyle. ALONE. Is it worth it? Is it even possible? The question is: "are they happy with their lives?". Humans have many needs and work can satisfy more than just the need for money. Friends, hobbies, fulfilment - if a job is your source of those, overtime is a night out. You want to hang out with your out-of-work friends, they want to hang out with their in-work friends. For them, you're the party pooper.

It's very hard to find a job that's the right fit. Let them be happy with their online Sundays and let yourself be happy where your 9-17 commitment will be appreciated, with compatible understandings of "emergency".

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    You can even use the classic "it's not you, it's me" line when leaving : )
    – Agent_L
    Sep 18 at 19:44
  • This really is the most-sane answer. The rest of OP's coworkers might just love-that-much the work they're doing. Sep 19 at 16:55
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You're doing the smart thing, your coworkers are not, and stupid people resent smart people.

Make it clear to your manager that if you get any further "emergency" calls from your coworkers that aren't actually emergencies, you will cease answering any such calls. You aren't paid to put up with their stupidity.

PS. How many people work overtime and then find out that they get no “thanks” for it at all? Because they won’t. They certainly won’t get any “thanks” from their kids or spouse, all you achieve is getting worn out.

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    Why is someone "stupid" for liking their job more than things they can do in their free time, or caring more about their career than their social life? Even if they just got caught up in a culture of overworking, I still don't think it's justified to call them "stupid" (although I wouldn't object to calling them "inconsiderate" for reaching out to a coworker outside of office hours and expecting them to reply). Sep 17 at 10:42
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    Op, don't be surprised when the "stupid" people get all the promotions and opportunities. How dumb of them!
    – eps
    Sep 17 at 15:26
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    Please don't attack people you don't know for no reason. I often work after hours for free too, but that's my choice and it is done because I enjoy my job and because I come from Academia where this is the norm so I'm used to it. I don't expect it or require it from others or those I manage, but I do resent the implication that I'm somehow "stupid" for liking what I do. I could just as well argue that those who don't enjoy their job are the "stupid" ones since they weren't "intelligent" enough to find a job they like. Unless you know why they do this, you have no call to randomly insult folks.
    – terdon
    Sep 17 at 15:47
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    I think the idea here is the other employees are recent grads who will kill themselves "crunching" for no extra pay. They assume management will notice, promote them, give them big raises. Then they realize the company would rather dump them for a new batch of naive grads as soon as they slack off or want personal lives. Sep 17 at 16:04
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    @eps dont be surprised if those people get burned out before they get the promotion and get a serious depression and might lose their job all together. I have seen this way to often. And it is "stupid" to risk your (mental) health for a promotion that might never come. You cannot promote everyone. These people also create and expectation to always work 70 hours a week and be available on sundays.
    – bibleblade
    Sep 20 at 7:35
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I believe this is a discussion that should be brought up with your human resources (HR) department. Typically, HR is the department in charge of an employee's records, including their emergency contact information, and it would be interesting to get their take on how your emergency contact information was given to other employees who are abusing it for non-emergency contact. It is entirely possible that they are unaware of this breach, and it is their responsibility to ensure that your records remain confidential, and initiate any disciplinary action and policy changes in the event that such a breach has occurred.

Furthermore, the HR department is often responsible for supporting the health and wellness of the employees. Your time outside of your contracted working hours is your own, and it is during this time where you are expected to be able to rest and recuperate. If your co-workers are cutting into your personal time outside of company hours, and discriminating against you because you are committed to maintaining your mental well-being by resting and recovering outside of working hours, then you should feel comfortable and justified in letting them know.

Lastly, your HR department is the first place you should be turning to when you need an objective, non-involved third party to mediate a work-related issue. If your manager isn't explicitly asking you to perform this work, and your contract doesn't stipulate this sort of expectation of off-hours work, then this is clearly harassment, and deserves to be handled as such.

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You have the option of compromising with your co-workers. If your boss doesn't mind you not working overtime, they probably wouldn't mind your co-workers not working overtime either. So that means your co-workers have their own reasons for wanting to do their work (want a promotion, enjoy their work, struggle with their work but want to keep their job, etc.). You seem to want to compromise with them, to maintain a good relationship with them.

One option would be to decide for yourself on a reasonable amount of out-of-office contact (e.g. maybe an hour once a week or fifteen minutes once a month, and sometimes you just won't be able to). Then tell your co-workers that's how much time you're willing to spend outside work hours, and let them decide how they want to spend it. Make clear that you're still going to say "no" sometimes, and tell them they have to accept that or you'll just go back to ignoring them.

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