I have been working on a project for 4 months and the project is almost complete. Now I have no work from my team leader and I am spending this time to learn something new in my technology. But I am getting bored learning like this, I think I can learn more effectively on project requirements. Some of my team-mates are also free.

Should I ask my team leader about additional work?

Please give me advice about this. I am new in software industry and don't know how to deal with seniors

  • 1
    Wow, think yourself lucky. In all of my career, I've never had nothing on my to do list while I was actually in employment. *8')
    – Mark Booth
    Aug 23, 2012 at 14:15
  • If the project is only "almost" complete and you have nothing to do you should find something to help complete the project to do. The point is if you really have "nothing" to do then you should find something to help complete the project to do, otherwise you should go to your manager, and explain your short todo list is not complete.
    – Donald
    Aug 24, 2012 at 11:24
  • Just start building something with the new technology; you're in developers paradise: getting paid to code whatever you want.
    – user8365
    Jan 7, 2013 at 16:25
  • In asking for work, don't forget to ask for the priority of the work. Some things are to be done immediately and some things may be done a bit more leisurely.
    – JB King
    Jan 7, 2013 at 23:06

5 Answers 5


I think the situation is familiar to everyone. This happens due to ill-management or bad estimates, and this is often a problem.

The company I work in has a certain policy about this. If someone has no work, this is the problem of the whole company, and they should inform the manager, the team leader and our boss about this beforehand (at least 1-2 days). So when the situation is encountered, it can be solved.

Even if there is no such policy in your company, this is the best thing to do. You can't be sure whether others know about your problem until you talk to them. Communicate. Ask if you don't know (or if you aren't sure). It also shows that you are a responsible person, and you won't conceal any problems.

The second step (in my company) is to see if anyone else needs help. If you have spare time, and someone else can meet the schedule, you could do some of their work. And again, the management must know what you are doing.

If there is no chance to get work for now, the best thing you can do is self-improvement. Read books, articles, StackExchange sites (highly recommended), etc.

Another solution is a vacation (which, in most cases, isn't likely to happen). My boss had asked (yes, asked) me to take a paid vacation (this doesn't reduce the quantity of days that I can still take), until there is some work for me. And when there was work, he called me beforehand and asked to come back.

  • Thanks a lot for your answer.but i still confused that should i go to the my leader or not?may be he knows that i have no work. Aug 23, 2012 at 9:15
  • Please see my edit, (the 3rd passage)
    – superM
    Aug 23, 2012 at 9:22

You cannot assume he knows you have no work to do. You cannot assume that there isn't work he could assign you if he knew. I have rarely worked anywhere where there wasn't some work that we could never get to due to time pressures.

Now before you go tell him, think for a few minutes about what are some projects that could help the office out (and perhaps give you a chance to shine or play with some new technologies). Things that aren't client-driven. Then go to him and propose to do one of them during the slack period if he has no other work to assign you. And these things don't have to be software projects, they might be preparing a training session on one of the new things you have learned, setting up an onboarding system for new employees, cleaning up and restructuring a source control system that has gotten out of hand, updating documentation.

It is almost always better to go to the boss with a plan for what to do in the slack period than just to go tell him you have no work. Even if he has other work for you and didn't realize you were free, he will appreciate that you are thinking of productive things to do rather than just slacking off.


Go to your boss. Make sure it is a private meeting (closed door).

Maybe use "I'm kinda embarrassed to even come to you about this, but I actually don't have much work to do right now, what should I do? Can I do some education and the like?"

I think that suggestions like doing SO, personal training, skills improvement, etc. are all good things but make sure your boss knows. They don't have to be 'officially sanctioned' and all that which is often unrealistic (putting some things like that in writing -> legal issues, etc.) but just make sure that when you're SO'ing and they stop by you don't feel any need to hide your screen from him/her.

  • 1
    Thanks for answer Michael..!!i appreciate you suggestion. Aug 23, 2012 at 12:40

You should absolutely discuss this with your boss. In most cases, it's the job of a team/group/department leader to make sure all of their employees have enough work to do (and, conversely, that nobody has an absurdly large amount of work to do). If you don't have enough work, you boss most likely has not noticed yet. Assuming they are any good at what they do, they will eventually realize your work has dried up. At that point, their question will be something like "What have you been doing for the past 3 weeks?".

I suggest broaching the topic with something similar to this:

(Boss's Name), the work on (project) has really slowed down lately due to (relevant factor/event), and I'm finding that I don't really have as much work to do as I'd like. What opportunities are available right now for me to take on some more work?

Your boss should be able to help you get something to work on (assuming your company has enough business/active projects to cover its employees), and will hopefully appreciate/remember you initiative when it comes time for things like promotions and raises.


First - if you have not had any conversation at all with your boss about being out of meaningful work - yes, go right now and tell him you're done. Be ready to review what has been currently on your plate and what level of completion it currently resides (for example "it's done, waiting for testing." or "all tests are done."). Be clear about anything you see coming back at you in a few days ("this is waiting for testing, they won't get to it for a few days, I'll need to be ready to fix bugs when it finishes testing").

Next - if you already had the "I'm out of work" conversation and you were told to learn something new while waiting for a next assignment, I'd start taking work into my own hands as follows:

I'd do each of the following weekly - either in a one on one meeting, or informally depending on how your office flows: - talk to your boss about having a meaningful goal. What technology? Is there a way you can prototype something with it using work resources? Do you or he have any ideas for new features that may be worth some experimentation. - give status on the previous week's work - check in on new opportunities for specific assignments. If nothing is immediate, take the opportunity to dig into the business in general and why things might be so slow... - does anyone need your help? would it be OK to check in with team members and offer?

Keep it to a week unless you see your boss or team lead has spare time. It could be he's scrambling in another area and can't spare much time to talk to you. It could be he's as bored as you are... You won't know unless you find casual way to check in - wandering by a few times a week and saying "hi" is OK - just be sensitive to other demands on his time.

Which boss?

In a big company, it can be confusing - sometimes a "team lead" is the manager only for the duration of a small project. In that case, you may have a direct supervisor or "resource manager" who is different. As a good rule of thumb, it's good to check in with the smallest boss first - if you have a team lead who's been overseeing your work on a day to day basis - start there. If he doesn't have work, and you have a bigger boss, ask if you should check in with that bigger boss, or wait until later.

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