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Some of my coworkers are putting in 10+ hours daily (in addition to a +2 hours commute), and make sarcastic remarks when suggested to leave the office 'early' (especially if the boss is present in the room) and routinely sending work-related emails all through the weekend.

Should I try to send emails all through the weekend, put in more "office hours" (while still trying to at least do something meaningful for myself, i.e. side projects while there), confront them and say the workplace is totally unproductive, try to explain their behavior is making us all worse in the long run or something else?

Or should I go into a "competitive war" and put 12 hours a day? Won't this just result in them putting in 14 hours to "outsmart me"?

  • Do you have management responsibility for these people? If not, then simply get a job in a better environment. – HorusKol Apr 15 '14 at 23:21
  • This could be edited into a more legitimate question, but right now it's just a rant. (I'd do it myself if I wasn't on my phone...) – panoptical Apr 15 '14 at 23:21
  • Hello user, I've noticed you have a few posts on our site that have been closed. As a Q&A site, our goal is to provide answers to real questions in the workplace. Please avoid posts that are intended for discussion, debate, or that aren't really questions. Please see tour and help center for more guidance on how our site works. Good luck! – jmort253 Apr 16 '14 at 0:31
  • @jmort253 I tried to make some edits (suggested, pending) to make the post more appropriate. – Dukeling Apr 16 '14 at 0:36
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    Nice edits, @Dukeling! That's a great start. I'm not sure I'd reopen in it's current form though as it's still feels a bit unclear in what the problem is. I'll drop a link to this post in our chat room to see if there's community support for reopening or if someone else can build upon what you started. The edits definitely bring this much closer to what we're looking for in a Workplace SE question. Thanks for editing. – jmort253 Apr 16 '14 at 0:43
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Let's look at some of your options:

  • Ignore them.

    Just work the amount of hours you signed up for.

    If they're roughly of the same skill as you, doing similar work, them putting in 50% more hours than you (assuming they perform well during most of this time) may show a noticeable difference in performance between you, so this may lead to you getting negative performance reviews. And the boss may expect that many hours - that's unclear.

    On the other hand, the boss likely knows how many hours most people put in, on average. If you can manage to have a similar performance at only working 8 hours a day (because you're much better than them, they're burnt out, or they mess around a lot), this is likely to get you noticed as a great employee.

    Either way, if you want to stick around, just take it as it comes - if you're noticed as low performing for this reason, or your boss tells you you're not putting in enough hours, find another job.

    With regard to the remarks, you could try playing along. If they make a remark about you leaving, respond with something like "Yeah, I forgot my mattress" or "Yeah, you can never be too careful with all those vampires around" or "Yeah, gotta get home, Barbie starts at 6" (if you're brave... possibly) or "Yeah, I'm totally whipped" or whatever comeback you can come up with - up to you, but I'd try to stay away from jokes / remarks at their expense and either opt for jokes at your own expense or jokes at no-one's expense.

  • Report them for their remarks.

    If the statements are offensive, you could always approach your boss or HR about it. Some sarcastic remarks probably doesn't classify though. I imagine it would be things that are actually hurtful rather than just ... irritating?.

    You could also try to confront them about it.

    This, of course, probably doesn't change much regarding your work-hours-difference problem.

  • Leave.

    If you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    If you don't want to match their hours, and can't deal with the (non-offensive) remarks, I don't think you have a choice other than leaving.

  • Try to keep up with the number of hours.

    Probably not the best idea. Working excessively long hours over long periods, in general, isn't sustainable - most people (although not necessarily everyone) will burn out. Given the phrasing of your question, you also seem to have a social life / life outside of work - you'll have to decide whether this or your job is more important.

    If you choose this approach, I don't think you should intentionally try to work more hours then them, as this may lead to some "see who can work the most" type of 'competition', which is a no-win for either of you. If you just work roughly the same number of hours, I don't think they'll start working more just to work more than you, but it's possible.

    You could also just try to work more hours than you currently do, up to a number that's acceptable to you, even if this isn't the same amount of hours as them.

  • Put in more hours, but do non-work during work hours. Briefly take some time to send e-mails when you're not working to look like you are.

    Probably not a good idea. If you project the image of working many more hours than you actually do, this might be expected to reflect in your performance and, given that you don't actually work that much, it won't. And, if you spend many work-hours not doing work, in all likelihood, you'll have a bit of a harder time actually working when you try to. Not to mention that you could get burnt out even if you just send that occasional work e-mail while doing other stuff (you'll likely find yourself thinking about work 24/7). In the short term, it might solve your problem, but, all-in-all, most likely not a good outcome for you.

  • Confront them about their hours.

    The hours they choose to work (and their performance as a whole) is between them and the company. You don't really have a right to confront them about it.

Above all:

Stay objective and factual - keep any personal attacks out of it. Your initial post wasn't particularly in line with this. If this is any indication of how you will choose to handle reporting them, confronting them or even leaving (and many other things in the business world), that's unlikely to turn out well for you.

If you choose to confront them, you may simply go with something like:

You often make negative comments related to my work hours. The number of hours I work is more of an issue between my boss and me. To this end, I would appreciate it if you could stop making these comments.

And leave it at that.

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    I think the performance might not be much of an issue, working 12 hours a day and all through the weekend is going to lower your productivity per hour. Either that, or a person get's burnt-out quite quickly. – Paul Hiemstra Apr 16 '14 at 5:59
  • Thanks for great answers. The problem is the culture in this region which is everywhere very time centric instead of goal centric. I am astonished how this organization manages to survive with all those inefficiences. There are no clear performance goals, but i think the people are fixing even what works good just to be seen as hard working – user3327744 Apr 16 '14 at 6:52
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Be yourself , be genuine....if you put in quality work in the standard work hours and are proud of your work , then chasing the "ass-lickers" and trying to surpass them is neither a smart move nor achievable.

Trying and convince the boss/who runs the shop

Express why you think this kind of culture is not sustainable in the long run. Present evidence especially of the impact that it has had on you (future new joins) If he cares enough about a balanced culture , he will take your feedback seriously and stop supporting/encouraging or may even stop that kind of behavior. If he does not , then you should leave if you dont feel comfortable in that environment.

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