I currently work in a corporate environment where the majority of the company works typical hours of 8:30 AM - 5 PM. Many employees vary work hours based on personal obligations, however often times due to work load a lot of people in my department work later into the evening.

When it comes to my personal situation I find that a group of my co-workers are constantly badgering me about "leaving early". The co-workers are not my superiors or supervisors in any fashion.

I realize that they think this because often times I come in early and leave early (typically 7:30 AM - 4 PM) to enable me to do certain activities after work. I always make a personal commitment to ensure I am working the minimum number of hours of work if not more. In addition, I have cleared these hours with my supervisors. I have also made attempts to lighten the load of others in my department where possible.

On occasion this badgering takes place in front of my supervisors, who have never mentioned it to me in the slightest.

I am finding that it is starting to take a toll on my job satisfaction when I am viewed this way, despite the fact that I am doing my job, and well.

I am afraid if I take direct action about mentioning this to the people who badger me, it will only fuel the fire. I can take some razzing like the rest of them, but it has gotten to the point where I consider it immature and a possible threat to my future growth at the company.

I also find this treatment is similar with vacation days, most people in my company take them weeks at a time. I tend to be the type to use them on long weekends or days here and there. For some reason, I get harassed about taking vacation when I am entitled to the same amount as everyone else.

Any suggestions on either front?

  • 34
    Doing so would cause me to miss after work activities, which i consider important. So i'd rather deal with them, then miss out on whats truly important to me.
    – BlueBird
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 20:16
  • 14
    Do they know you're coming in at 7:30 am? When they give you a hard time for leaving early, do you mention what time you got to work (so they can realize you've already worked a full day)? If not, they probably should.
    – Cornstalks
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 21:31
  • 98
    Not entirely professional behaviour - but my approach to this in one company was to start biting back. When I'd already been in an hour ahead of the guy who badgered that I left ahead of him, I'd "welcome" him to the office - "oh, so you got in okay then?" - "hard to get started in the cold mornings, isn't it?"
    – HorusKol
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 1:17
  • 27
    @HorusKol if you do it in a joking manner, it might actually work--if they are either (a) actually just kidding around or (b) bullying, but trying to pass it off/convince themselves that it's just kidding around, then kidding back is possibly an effective solution.
    – msouth
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 5:04
  • 13
    @msouth: As a non-joking alternative, which has the possible advantage that it is not personal toward anyone, tell something during normal chatting that implicitly reveals you arrived early. For instance, say you need to go out for 10 minutes to get something from the bakery near work because the one at home wasn't open at the time you left. Or express your hapiness about how relaxing today's journey to work was because your train, bus, or road was quite empty, as rushhour hadn't started yet. Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 8:42

15 Answers 15


I have always been an early starter, being in the office normally around 7am. There have been occasions where coworkers have made remarks as I leave at 4pm to go home to my family. I simply ask them, "what time did YOU start work this morning?" (with a smile). When I've informed them that I have been at work since 7am, it makes more sense to them. It DOES help that my bosses are often in early as well and could easily back me up.

With the leave thing, I also do the same, taking occasional long weekends and saving annual leave for school holidays. If challenged, simply tell them that it's been x months since you took a week off.

I just find the best way to handle it is to be matter-of-fact, not defensive or narky. Do NOT change your working hours to fit in with these people. You are doing nothing wrong, it is them that have the problem and you have the support of management.

  • 53
    Yes, this. If they complain about you leaving early, point out that they weren't here when you arrived in the same tone of voice. They will soon get the idea and stop badgering you. "Leaving early? Shoot, I've already been here 9 hours! How long have you been here today?" and so forth should quickly remind them that you come in much earlier than they do.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 21:38
  • 39
    Standing up for yourself should quickly stop the whining, and if it doesn't, and it still bothers you, pull them aside and have a chat. "Accusing me of leaving early when you know I come in early is really bothering me. Is my work schedule something you are really concerned about, or is this just light-hearted joking?" If they are concerned about it, have a further discussion. If not, ask them to simply stop.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 21:39
  • 1
    @VietnhiPhuvan Thanks, I originally considered it, but it isn't substantially different than Jane's answer, so upvote hers if you haven't already.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 19:06
  • 3
    To add to this, check out what the company policy is on "core business hours". Most places I've worked at require employees to be in the office between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm, and pull off at least 40 hours per week and a minimum of 6.5 hours per day. They usually give a fair bit of slack so long as the work gets done and the weekly hours are at least 40. When I had the same issue in the past, I just noted "I come in 2 hours early so I'm on the same schedule as out-of-state clients". Usually only new people and coops are obtuse enough to question my hours.
    – Cloud
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 19:35
  • 2
    I do this as well, and if it remains a problem I begin sending emails to people right away as soon as I'm in (as if they're in). This helps reinforce to people that I'm really pulling my fair share. If they're still exhibiting these behaviors, then I'll add a bit of snark in my retort by saying something like "Not all of us decide to sleep in every morning." or something to that effect. Commented May 1, 2015 at 14:20

The best way to respond to this kind of razzing is to take exactly what they said and say it back to them but for the morning.


Them: "Jeeze you're leaving early today."

You: "Jeeze you started late today."

Keep it light, say it with a smile and make it obvious that you are simply doing (and saying) the reverse of what they do.

NOTE: You need to avoid coming across as passive-aggressive because that will only turn the ribbing into underhand attacks. By doing a word shuffle of what they said seems the easiest way of accomplishing this.

  • 18
    Or when you arrive in the morning, send them a friendly 7am email, "Hi [name], I went over to your desk just now (07:02am) to discuss important business, but you weren't there. Did you get up late this morning? :-)" (the smiley face is very important) Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 14:57
  • 4
    ...and if you want to be really cheeky, you could add "Maybe you worked so late last night, you needed a lie-in this morning? Let me know if you manage to arrive before I've finished for the day. :-) " ...but that might be pushing it too far... Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 15:16
  • 19
    I would use caution with this approach. Depending on both your delivery and your relationship with the coworker, it could come off as very passive-aggressive. Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 16:27
  • 4
    @user568458 That is the most passive aggressive thing, that'd piss me off so much if I received that email. Simply sending an email to a person and CC'ing your team something along the lines of your first half to the affect of "Hey %coworker%, when you get in could you come find me please? I wanted to discuss %topic% with you". The rest seems extremely catty and petty when they're already ragging on you for leaving early.
    – sab669
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 19:37
  • 58
    Joking's all fun and good, in person. Do not joke through email.
    – user8025
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 3:36

I would take them aside and say "We both know that we meet the same requirement for hours worked (or the same number of weeks per year), I just come to work much earlier than others. You publicly razzing me about leaving early risks tarnishing my image, just like if I were publicly razzing you about showing up late. Can this be the end of this?".

Alternatively if you want to keep it light, anytime they bug you over leaving early start talking about how much you got done while they were still nestled in their warm jammies holding their teddy bear.

  • While OP is working a perfectly acceptable number of hours, they are not working the same number of hours per week.
    – Jim Clay
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 19:40
  • @JimClay Answer updated to reflect this. They are meeting the same requirement for hours worked (assuming they have the same length of work week).
    – Myles
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 19:55
  • 11
    In a properly professional environment this is ideal. Sometimes you have to play mind games and fight fire with fire as others have suggested, but that is not how these issues should be addressed by mature adults. Tell your coworkers, in a non-confrontational setting, that you don't appreciate their behavior, and they should respect that. If they don't, the problem isn't that they poke fun of this one issue, it's that they don't respect you in the first place.
    – dimo414
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 3:38

I fall in the same boat with early working and long weekend vacations.

I've only gotten a little flak from coworkers, and occasional flak from managers. My response is often the same: "So what? I'm getting my work done." usually accompanied with a scowl. It helps of course if you actually get your work done.

The biggest thing is to (semi-politely, professionally) make it clear that such comments are unwelcome. Don't laugh them off. Don't be silent. Don't retaliate. Be annoyed. They will get the hint, and if not them, your supervisor if your supervisor sees it.

  • 8
    +1 for being professionally annoyed. As a salaried employee, you are paid to do your work. If you can do it in 40 hours instead of 50, no need to work the extra hours. Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 20:04
  • 28
    I've always disliked the term "getting your work done" To me this implies that a) there is a limited amount of work to be done (usually not the case) and b) you're not willing to help anyone or do anything outside of your normal work scope. Mentioning how much you actually produce or contribute conveys a better message IMO.
    – Chris
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 23:32
  • 1
    @Chris True, but that doesn't mean people who come in early have to compensate for people who come in late(r). Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 8:31
  • 3
    My concern with this answer would be that "So what? I'm getting my work done." might give the impression that you are in fact not putting your hours in. OP is not only working a full working day, they are putting in extra hours at times. The "So what?" sounds like "yes, you're right, I worked less hours, but I got all I needed to get done done, so it doesn't matter." In theory it doesn't matter... but why confirm their (false) impression that you're working less hours than they are? Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 10:33
  • 2
    Yeah, I don't like this because the other person might (mistakenly) think you're working fewer hours and have lighter duties, or you're one of those people who does only what's asked of them and tries to avoid taking on more work. You're not, you're working just as many hours as they are: tell them. Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 15:00

The most efective way to live unhappily is to put your happiness in the hands of those who couldn't care less about it.

Keep talking to the supervisors. Keep the lines of communications open with your colleagues. Speak periodically and mention the status of the various projects you are working on as "making satisfactory progress"

I like knocking as much work as possible before 9 AM. It works for me because so few will show up before 9 AM to do any work and distract me from what I am doing. You put in a full day of work, you go home. Don't let the masses tell you anything different.

  • 2
    +1 for mentioning the practice of start working before 9 AM. I bet there are a lot of stats or research that will show productivity increases a lot at or before the earliest work hour of the day. I personally find it a very nice practice not only to optimize daily activities, but also as a good opportunity for some R&D. :) Commented May 6, 2015 at 6:25

In addition to following the others' advice about handing it right back to them, use technology in your favor. Make sure to send them emails at 7AM, and make sure those emails have requests in them from those later-arriving employees. They'll learn darn quickly that you arrive hours before them. Make sure to copy your manager and/or their managers if you think it appropriate and not too obvious the subtext you are conveying.

  • 7
    +1 This is war :) It shouldn't matter to the OP whether it's the OP who started it or the OP's critics, what should matter is that the suffering be one-sided and that it's the OP's critics who are doing the suffering :") Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 10:36
  • 2
    Definitely the best idea, in my opinion. No need to stoop to their level and give them crap over showing up late. Just send an email to someone when you get in asking them a question, and CC the team so they can all see you're in bright and early. Frankly, CC'ing the team is a good habit to get into to keep everyone informed, and protect yourself if complications arise.
    – sab669
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 20:00
  • 3
    This is the strategy I have used for over 10 years, as I've time-shifted to earlier hours to avoid commuter traffic (which would literally triple my time on the road). I respond to emails first thing, and email others in the 7-8AM time frame. It also helps immensely when I have to work with people in time zones to the east of our location (Europe, Middle East), as it's still normal working hours over there when I get in.
    – Voxwoman
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 20:21

The simple response is, "You know I was in at 7, right?" This covers all the bases. It might be that the colleagues simply didn't know that. If they did know it and they say something like, "Yeah, I know, I was just joking" then you have the opportunity to point out, in a non-aggressive way, that they make that joke every day and that it's not funny any more.

In contrast, turning the "joke" back on them ("Well you sure arrived late this morning!") gives the wrong message: making this kind of banter yourself suggests that you approve of it and invites them to continue.

  • 2
    Absolutely. Not responding immediately to the complaints/attacks makes them stick, no matter how untrue. And responding to the attacks in any other way, than the one you mentioned will just make things worse.
    – Peter
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 0:06
  • If this doesn't stop it, you can opt for saying things like "I don't appreciate this continued unprofessional behaviour", "Can you please stop harassing me over this" or "I thought we talked about this". These responses (especially the middle one) would be ideal to say in the presence of OP's supervisor. Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 9:38

Do you know why they're complaining? Is it because (say) they're jealous, or is it because they actually need you to be around when you're not there? Are you someone whom is often asked for help? Or maybe they need to go through you because you have special permissions or powers to do something? If it happens people need you when you've already left, then you're effectively forcing them to change their hours in order to get their work done on time, so you're the one being unreasonable. But if you being around doesn't affect them, then they're being unreasonable. You should clarify which one is actually the case.

  • 5
    You provide a good point, to my knowledge there is nothing that they need from me or my absence for that hour would have a significant impact on. In fact many of these people are in completely different areas of the department where I rarely if ever collaborate with.
    – BlueBird
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 12:44

I was in that situation. I'd get in at 6 am every day, work hard until 4:30 or later, M-TR, but on Friday's I'd leave at 2:30 pm (I was dating the person I would later marry and that was the only time our schedules were both free).

My coworkers hated it, despite the fact that I was normally at 50 hours for the week at that point and most of them weren't even making 45. For my situation, no amount of humorously pointing out how early I got in, or how many hours I was working; they treated it as if it was a personal choice, like a hobby.

They were just determined to complain about everything they could, they'd take every petty complain to the boss regarding each other too. They even complained to the director of the department about my boss asking them to work overtime during our busy season.

If your work environment is like that, you're working in a toxic environment and finding another job is the only real solution to this problem. I regret how it took me 3 years to leave.

I think everyone else has it covered very good solution for what to do if you co-workers aren't toxic people.

  • My solution is to look into if your workplace is toxic or not, and if it is decide if you want to or even can fix it or not. If it is toxic and there's no fixing it or it would be more trouble than you want, then yes, you should find a new job and leave.
    – McCann
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 14:27

This 3-step plan really goes for razzing, bullying, and any other form of verbal coercion.

Step one: Stop giving a shit. Really, don't worry about. Remember the old adage, those who matter don't care, those who care don't matter.

Step two: Start, positively, razzing yourself. On your way out, announce it to the office that you're off to (go hiking, coach little league, have sex with your spouse, whatever it is to whatever degree you're comfortable sharing) so no one has anything left to say. As a bonus, your co-workers will know what's important to you, and will eventually start noticing and sharing the things they've come across which they think you'll find interesting.

Step three: Smile on your way out the door.

Step four: Ask your co-workers about their morning when they arrive, hours later than you.

  • Step one is difficult, as OP said having peers constantly rag on you for "leaving early" can cause problems if management misunderstands. While OP can show he's getting his work done, you don't want to be identified as someone your peers give flak to unless everyone knows it's in a 100% joking, non-serious manner. Hypothetically, suppose an employee got a promotion and is in some level of authority above OP who he incorrectly thinks leaves early frequently. That can put him at a disadvantage when it comes to annual reviews, promotions, raises etc
    – sab669
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 20:03
  • @sab669 Oh no, it comes with practice, and it becomes the easiest thing to do.
    – Masked Man
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 16:15
  • If people repeat something often enough they will start believing it. Same if they hear it said often enough. If some people complain about you being lazy all the time other people will at some point believe you are lazy.
    – Peter
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 0:10

The best way to respond to this is as people have suggested - to stand up for your own decision and to back it up with hard evidence. Pointing out that you've been working earlier than they have, consistently. I have several co-workers who arrive early and leave early, and once I knew this, it didn't bother me in the slightest.

On the other hand, your co-workers might be jerks. They might just be looking for something to tease you about without a logical reason behind it, and they might just be actively trying to make work hard for you.

This is unacceptable, and if you've already told them why you're leaving early and they refuse to accept it, and they're interfering with your workflow with their negative attitude, you have a right to take it up with your supervisor. He may see it going on, but he's not necessarily seeing the negative impact it has on you - bring it up to him that "their negative attitude is making it hard for me to focus on work, and I've already explained to them my work hours but they won't stop".

It's better to defend your own choices, but it can be hard sometimes, especially if you're one person trying to stand up against multiple other people who are refusing to be reasonable. This is when you escalate the situation - when after explaining your situation, they still refuse to be reasonable.


Post a very visible sign at the entrance to your office or cubicle, or on your desk, saying "Normal working hours 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m, Monday to Friday".

This does several things. Most importantly, it communicates when you will normally be available, saving people time looking for you outside your working hours - someone with a question for you at 4:30 will know to send e-mail to get an answer by the time they arrive the next morning. It makes it clear you are not hiding anything - presumably your supervisors will see the sign. It avoids confronting any individual in a way that might make them defensive.


I would expect that part of it may be humour - so the problem of what people think of your work schedule may be smaller than you expect - but that may be hard to tell, even when one is involved oneself.

For the "hard facts" part, it may be useful to point out that there can be an objective advantage for the company that the time range where employees are available is increased by you. (Of course, that depends a lot on the situation - but then, a potential or possible advantage is good enough here.)

Like for handling urgent or semi-urgent customer needs frome someone starting work early (maybe from a different time zone). Just ocassionaly reducing the response time with no extra effort would be a good point.


Beside barking back as other answers suggest I would start setting up meetings at 6:30 or 7:00. And be very, very dissapointed that people do not show up or decline. But heck, maybe 6:30 on Monday was not good for everyone, maybe if I shift that to Wednesday 6:45 it will work out?

  • 3
    This is a bad idea.
    – Hayley
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 17:26
  • @asdasd: care to comment why?
    – WoJ
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 19:39
  • Because it's unreasonable to expect people to come in earlier than normal working hours.
    – Hayley
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 1:12
  • OP: "the company works typical hours [are] 8:30 - 5PM". He comes early and leaves early and is being badgered for that. He can set up meetings before the "typical times" to highlight that these are just that: typical times. When someone says that he will not be there that early, the OP just replies, "Ah? see, I will be there". As much as it is not reasonable to assume that someone will come off "typical hours", it is not reasonable either to badger someone for having its own, agreed with his management.
    – WoJ
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 9:10
  • @WoJ all I would add here is a lot of companies have specific core hours when meetings may be held. Often something like 10-4 specifically so everyone can easily attend regardless of what flex time or schedule they have
    – Vality
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 18:35

It sounds as though the culture of the company is to work 0830 to 1700. Your working hours are not fitting in with the general culture of that workplace and that is causing you to be singled out.


  1. Alter your work hours to fit in with the culture.

  2. Find another company which has a culture more in tune with your own.

  3. Explain to them that you like to do things differently to them and that the boss is okay with that.

  4. When they arrive at work later than you, taunt them about it.

Here is my breakdown of your options

  1. This is the best option, fitting in is the most important part of career development. Nobody likes somebody who does things differently, it is a threat which must be eliminated - as you likely will be as time proceeds.

  2. This is another great option. A fantastic opportunity for career development too!

  3. This could make you the target of even more bullying, you jumped up little !*#$.

  4. No. Don't do that one!

  • 2
    "This is the best option, fitting in is the most important part of career development. Nobody likes somebody who does things differently, it is a threat which must be eliminated - as you likely will be as time proceeds." - that is highly subjective. Some places are rigid, some are not - some places actually put a value on treating people like adults and letting people be themselves. Commented May 1, 2015 at 17:12

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