I have a situation where either my co-worker or I should work in night shifts, but I live a long distance from my work location and it will be hard for me to reach home in late nights. Our company doesn't provide any cabs, and public transportation is rare.

On the other hand, my co-worker has all the requirements. He stays near to our work location, he travels in a personal vehicle. Also, public transportation is available for him.

How should I convince him to work in night shifts instead of me? He is senior to me and I don't know how to approach him.

UPDATE: Iam happy to say that my co-worker accepted the night shift instead of me.I explained my situation to my co-worker he showed some disinterest first but then I explained to my PM he was convinced with my problems and then he convinced my co-worker to take the shift I am very thankful to my PM and also to my co-worker for accepting this considering my problems.

  • 12
    Have you tried asking him politely?
    – AakashM
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 9:30
  • 25
    That's basically screwing someone over (IMO) :)
    – Martijn
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 12:12
  • 5
    Do you have anything else to offer? Is there some task, project, etc. you could be doing for him that he hates doing?
    – user8365
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 13:16
  • 19
    Living closer comes at a cost - otherwise why wouldn't you move closer? - this cost is being paid by that employee (perhaps a higher tax on the area, etc.) - why should they be punished for whatever tradeoff vs driving more? and for that matter, why should you even know/bring into consideration where another co-worker lives? - I suggest completely dropping that part of your "argument" and instead focus on other reasons Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 16:04
  • 8
    Buy a car. Night shifts should pay more, so you should have room for increased transportation costs. Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 16:45

9 Answers 9


For most people, life is more than work, life is also hobby, family, rest and anything else. For many people, night shifts are no-go, because they will make them tired, or unhappy, or upset their family, or anything else.

You can't expect that your senior colleague will accept night shifts, no matter what arguments you will prepare. It's not his fault that the company expects one of you to do the night shifts. Maybe in that team the junior colleague was always making the night shifts? If one of you would have to leave because of unwillingness to do night shifts, it's almost sure the company would be less upset with firing the junior worker than the experienced worker.

If I were ordered to work night shifts, I'd start looking for new work immediately. I know it may be upsetting to you, but if you hate night shifts, maybe you should look for a new job as well?

You should speak with your colleague, asking how were the night shifts organized before you got there, why he isn't taking them, etc. Ask, but not blame. And you should decide what will you do if he says "no". Because blaming him for you being forced to work at night would be a very bad option, making relations between you very difficult. The same would be true if you make the ultimatum that if he won't take some of the night shifts, you'll leave (if the management forces him to take night shifts against his will, he'll be very probably very angry at you).

But maybe it's possible to shift to the other position, that doesn't require working at night?

In future, you should always take such things into consideration before signing the contract, because unfortunately, if your contract obligates you to subdue to a work schedule which is inconvenient for you, you can only ask your company to change it, but you're not in the position to demand anything.

  • "Maybe in that team the junior collegue was always making the night shifts? If one of you would have to leave because of unwillingness to do night shifts, it's almost sure the company would be less upset with firing junior that experienced worker." This what I am afraid of.Being a junior when it comes a situation between junior and senior is the hardest part what I learned from this situation.All the negatives are on my side which are positives of my senior colleague.
    – dh47
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 4:49

Why would longer travel distance grant you more rights about nightshifts?

It's not his choice you live so far from work, it's yours. You both have the same amount of obligation/responsibility to work (let's ignore the senior part for a sec), you both have the same amount of obligation to take the nightshifts.

You can discuss your problems with the nightshift and if you're lucky he/she considers this. Just keep in mind you have no more rights because you have to travel more, don't pretend you do.

Instead of finding a way not to do nightshift, try to find an way to make it easier. Maybe it's an option to do a double shift (day->night), saving you a trip back and a trip forth. Or a nightshift, sleep in the office (might be a bit farfetched) and continue the dayshift.

  • Loved your answer.But I know if I cannot convince I need to adjust but I am here to know what is the best way to convince my co-worker,and I know everyone has their own reasons I just stated the positives of my co-worker which actually are my negatives.And moreover there is a chance for me because the case is EITHER me OR my Co-worker if this is not the case then I may have accepted that shift without any option.
    – dh47
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 16:29
  • 13
    Just try to reverse the roles. Would you take over a lot of shifts just because the other guy lives far away? His problem, not mine. I could be polite sometimes, but still not my problem.
    – Martijn
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 16:53
  • 28
    You need to come up with a reason for your co-worker to want to do these shifts for you, because the fact that it involves less travel for him than it does for you is not a benefit to him. Possibly offering an exchange such as offering to cover his weekend or holiday shifts would be appealing.
    – nobody
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 16:58
  • It seems many people share this feeling but it's not clear to me how this addresses the question as asked.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 19:58
  • 2
    Comments removed. Please avoid using comments for extended discussion. Instead, please get a room, a chat room. Comments are intended to help improve a post. Please see What "comments" are not... for more details. Also, remember to be nice. Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 2:09

If you are supposed to agree on who should do the night shifts, I suggest scheduling a meeting with him, or making a less formal appointment. Explain all the things you mention in your question about you, such as your distance from the workplace, and ask him how he feels about this.

However, I would avoid assuming things about him, such as that it's easier for him because he lives nearer - he may have perfectly good personal reasons that you don't know about for not wanting the night shift. You should not assume that he's better suited for it just because he lives nearer than you, and if you do, you could come across as quite accusing ("you should be doing the night shifts, you have no reason not to", etc.). Make assumptions or showing aggression will make him less likely to want to come to an amicable agreement with you.

You also haven't said if this is a permanent thing. If it is a one-off, you may not need to worry too much - grit your teeth and get on with it. If it's recurring, you may be able to share the shifts if neither of you wants to do it all the time. However, if it is a long-term change to one of your schedules, and it will be difficult for you to make it to work, you should take this up with your manager. They should be making this kind of decision, and taking into account your circumstances, not leaving you to fight amongst yourselves.

  • +1, talk to him and if it is permanent make sure you write down the agreement and establish a protocol for when someone can't make it to the night shift. Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 15:34
  • Not a permanent shift but may last longer for about 6 months.
    – dh47
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 4:28

As with any negotiation, try to work together to find a win-win.

There may be many other options that you and your team could come up with with a little creativity.

Perhaps you can adjust the shifts around public transport timetables. For example, you could work a 12 hour night shift, 6 pm to 6 am, so that when you get off shift, the morning buses and trains might be running.

Perhaps the company can buy or rent a pool vehicle, or contribute towards the cost of a car, motorbike or bicycle, or give you a fuel or mileage allowance. Many governments give tax breaks to companies that fund bicycle schemes.

Perhaps there is another coworker on the night shift you could share a car with. Again, many governments offer tax breaks for ride share schemes (and you get to use the high occupancy vehicle lanes.)

Perhaps you can take some work home.

When you think of a problem as 'him or me', you are unlikely to satisfy anyone.


Generally no office is going to consider how far from work you live when asking you to do night shift. Where you live and how you get to work is your problem not the company's.

Very few people want to do night shift and thus usually seniority comes into play. There may also be another business task that means the senior person needs to be on day shift such as dealing with clients. Senior people tend to have broader duties and are often doing things that the junior people are not aware of and some of these can only be done during the day shift. This is one of thereasons why the seniors get the first choice on these things. Seniors are also more valuable to the organization generally and if you have something that will make one person unhappy, companies prefer to make the least valuable person the unhappy one. Further the senior may also have personal reasons not to do the night shift such as caring for children or ill parents. His reasons may be just as valid as yours.

I think it is unlikely that the senior will be convinced that he is the better choice. However, there is no reason why you can't ask him if he would be willing or if there could be a trade off where you do it sometimes and he does it sometimes. Simply set up a meeting to discuss nightshift and ask him if he would be willing. Don't come across as your needs are more important than his, that rarely works.

But in reality in the workplace, the junior person is almost always going to get the least desirable tasks including things like nightshift. As you get more seniority, you will get less of these tasks. However, if night shift is out of the question for you both and you get assigned to do it, then you either need to move closer or find a different job that doesn't have night shift work or get better transportation.

  • "But in reality in the workplace, the junior person is almost always going to get the least desirable tasks including things like nightshift."Yes this what exactly my situation was.
    – dh47
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 1:24
  • @dh47 And it is part of the life. Without this phenomenon, things like PHD Comics needed not exist.
    – yo'
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 21:54

It seems to me that you want a nice and tactful mind-trick to "convince" the other guy into taking the night shift, which by the way, is generally crappy, regardless of your profession.

I want to ask you that why did you not move closer to work ? Is the rent too high, neighborhood too rough, your family needs you there etc. ? What ?

If I were you, I'd just keep it simple. I'd say it like this -

Hey PotentialSuckerCoWorker !

I just came to know there is a night shift for me and I was wondering if you would be willing to consider taking it instead of me.

I am not too keen on taking it because I have reason - X and Y. I heard that you live close, so would you mind taking the position instead of me ?


This is a management resource problem and not for you to deal with your co-worker to "manage" them. Tell your supervisor why the night-shift is a problem for you, and let them deal with it. They might have other solutions where neither of you have to work the night-shift. So your method to ask a co-worker to change their schedule is not the solution and frankly, it isn't your place to do so. If I were your supervisor and learned you do this without talking to me about it first, I would be upset about it, because you are over-stepping your authority in trying to "guilt" someone else to do a job that was assigned to you personally. You don't like the job schedule, then talk to the supervisor and they can deal with it, it isn't your role to do so.


This situation could be a very effective illustration of the point that you won't be able to convince someone who doesn't want to be convinced no matter how good - read, logical and sound - your argument is. And in this case, that someone is your senior co-worker.

You may have to go to the management and use your argumentation on them and present that argumentation in terms of your senior worker being better positioned to meet the needs of the business as the night shift person than you. However, given that your only complaint is that it's hard for you to get home, don't be surprised if the management treats your logistical difficulties in getting home as merely a personal inconvenience to you. An inconvenience that they can live with.

  • 12
    There is no argument to be made; he chooses to live further out, and its not anyone else's problem but the OP.
    – Andy
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 17:12
  • @Andy - I disagree. It's going to be the manager's problem if he has to keep replacing junior developers who don't want to get stuck with the nigh shift all the time and could be come the senior's problem if he now has to work over-time to pick up the slack.
    – user8365
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 17:03
  • @JeffO theres no indication that were talking about a developer here, although that's pretty irrelevant anyway. Everyone knows where they will be commuting to when they accept the job, "I don't want to drive far at night" isn't going to fly and the company will be able to find someone willing to take the shift.
    – Andy
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 23:23
  • @Andy - There's no indication the OP knew about the night-shift when he/she accepted the job. You can always find people to accept a job, but turn-over can be costly and good help can be hard to find.
    – user8365
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 20:51
  • @JeffO Irrelevant, job duties can change, and the op still knows how far he is from his employer, and its his choice and not the concern of the employer. The senior and the OPs manager will see this for what it is, a lame excuse to get out of doing something the OP doesn't want to do.
    – Andy
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 23:17

I thik it depends on:

  • your relations with that coworker. Anyway, don't see it as your coworker's obligation, as it's not his fault to live nearer.

  • your feelings about a night shift. Is it a total no-go for you? If so, you'd better start looking for another job. Is something you would do sometimes? Cool. Then you need to tell your boss.

  • your relations with your boss.

If you have decent relations with your boss, just tell him you can't do continuously a night shift because of [your favourite emotional reason including, but not limited, to wife/husband, kids, old parents, health]. That you might do it for a month as a personal favour to the company, but then you'll need to share the assignment with "another coworker" . Just keep it friendly and learn what your boss thinks. Maybe he can offer a solution, specially if you offer some flexibility. Bosses always do what's less traumatic and requires less work for them, so it they value your work, and finding a night shifter to share with you the assignment is cheaper/faster than firing you, no doubt that will happen.

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