I prefer to work intensively for eight hours with complete focus, then leave relax in the evenings - work hard, play hard. My colleagues on the other hand, prefer to be in the office for 10-12 hours of the day, but spend a lot of their time goofing off - trading funny pictures via chat, telling jokes, etc.

We get the same amount of work done, but have very different attitudes towards it, neither of which are better or worse. But, it does make me feel very uncomfortable sometimes, when I am intensively focussed on something, and the rest of the office is lounging around chatting.

If I try and change my attitude to fit in with everyone else, then I would either have to work longer hours, or get less work done. I'm not going to work longer hours, because I really value my time outside the office, but doing less work grates against my sense of professionalism.

So I can either keep working intensively, and continue feeling like an outsider because I am excluding myself from the social activites of the rest of the office. Or I can relax, fit in with the rest of them, and instead sacrifice my professional integrity by doing less work than they are paying me for.

It all feels very awkward, and I really have no idea what to do. I wonder if there's a third option I missed?

  • possible duplicate of How to communicate my own working pace?
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 14:47
  • @gnat completely different question - I don't have any difficulty with communication, and the situation is almost the opposite - my problem is working too much, not being caught not working.
    – Benubird
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 14:53
  • FWIW asker of duplicate question seems to work a lot and successfully communicate this: "I... usually get praised for the quality of projects I deliver". See also meta.stackexchange.com/questions/194476/…
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 15:07
  • Wouldn't it be hard to say it's not worse, if your colleague goofs off and feels the need to stay 12 hours, wheras you who work hard during the work hours and go home 4 hours earlier. Maybe your colleagues don't have a family to go home to, for example. SOME goofing off is okay, but 4 hours!?
    – Brandin
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 15:46

4 Answers 4


Do you have lunch?

I'm also one of those people who likes to focus on work when it's time to work. But hopefully you're not so heads down that you skip lunch. That time is a great time to socialize with coworkers and help combat the possible perception of you as an asocial buzzkill.

For the rest of my time at work, I focus on work (and random internet things...).

  • Yes, we take an hour in the middle of the day - but I use it to go to the gym rather than eat lunch :)
    – Benubird
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 14:46

You would fit right in... Germany :)

I can relate to what you are saying as I am basically doing the same thing: focus on work when working, once I leave work I am using the time for myself. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

That being said, the way each individual works is unique. Just because something is working for you does not mean everyone can do it.

At the end of the day, what matters:

  • you deliver results
  • you are able to communicate with your colleagues on work related stuff

A thing you can do, not to appear "weird" is to occasionally goof off. That would allow you to better fit in, without major impact to the amount of work you can get done. The key word here is occasionally.

  • +1 People and work cultures are different, the OP doesn't have to adapt at all cost ... btw, an old German proverb says "Dienst ist Dienst und Schnaps ist Schnaps." (literally translated: "duty is duty and booze is booze"). You shouldn't mix business with pleasure. That's how I'm working, too.
    – s1lv3r
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 19:50
  • that was sort of a joke :)
    – Mircea
    Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 6:26
  • 1
    I'm not supposed to make jokes. :-P
    – s1lv3r
    Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 11:40
  • 1
    yeah southpark.cc.com/clips/383452/the-xj-212-funnybot
    – Mircea
    Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 18:22

I have experienced this at my workplace. When I started working as a junior programmer, my work ethics were excellent (have worsened slightly over time ). For the first year, I did not check Facebook, news sites or other non-work related websites. I did not go to the kitchen to chat with my colleagues without a valid reason. I was the youngest one and the only employee to do this. Everyone else was openly checking Facebook, messaging or having phone calls, having small chit-chats in kitchen etc. The difference was showing in productivity. I was performing really well right from the start, chewing through bug tickets.

I realized I am left out from the "goofing off" though. So I made a habit of talking about work and completely unrelated subjects as well, such as, fitness, repairs of my flat, my studies in University etc. I do it once a day max, during lunch time or close to that, for ~10-15 minutes.

I believe that distractions remove my focus, and I need 20-30 minutes to get back to working at full speed. However, I believe "goofing" once in a while helps the team spirit and atmosphere. For a few months I was just sitting at my table and working, with no "goofing off" at all and I felt left out.

It is great if "goofing" off is sometimes initiated by manager, so employees can go to a game room and duke it out in table football, table tennis, pool etc. Then it is not "goofing", more like team-building.


Firstly I would ask myself: "why does it make you feel very uncomfortable?". Because there is nothing wrong with people working differently.

Secondly, it's not all black and white. If you want to fit in more, try to compromise. Give yourself very brief pauses to goof off with your work colleagues. Then return to work. Everyone will respect that. It's good to be a bit social. As well as getting things done. This will show that you are flexible and can work and fit in in different environments as well as being self-motivated hard-working. (And short breaks are actually good for you.)

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