I've been thinking of changing my shift times from 9am-5pm to 7:30am (or 8) to 4pm, to allow time to do yoga/therapy after work multiple days a week. My question is, will I be looked at as a slacker? I am trying to move up at work and the only advice I get from people is "come early and stay late". However, I would have to give up many healthy activities that I do around 5-6pm in order for me to do that. Is this possible?
The linked question is great and it addresses the issue of being viewed as a slacker, but I want to address something you brought up which isn't covered in the answers there(at least, not that I saw). You said:
I am trying to move up at work and the only advice I get from people is "come early and stay late". However, I would have to give up many healthy activities that I do around 5-6pm in order for me to do that.
The thing is, this leads to burning out. Which leads to undue stress and anxiety, and makes you less productive overall. This is actually documented in studies and I'll leave that as an exercise for you to find more information.
So "come early and stay late" leads to stress, anxiety, and less productivity just by itself. Then you remove your healthy activities from 5-6PM(or showing up late at 5:10, 5:20?) - so you're effectively taking a huge hit to your health. The question is, is it worth it? In some cases yes, in other cases no. But I don't personally see this as a successful long-term arrangement. You need to take care of your mind and body.
Some wisdom I heard a while ago goes something like this: When you interview, people ask about your work ethic, your experiences, and your drive to succeed. They don't ask how often you burned the midnight oil. The job description tells you how many years of experience you need, but it won't state hours of overtime.
Let me tell you a story.
About 10 years ago I worked in a role along with a co-worker. It was a flexible environment and I could technically start between 7 and 10 and finish between 4 and 7. I would usually start near 7 and leave around 4 to get my child from nursery, my colleague would saunter in around 10 and stay until late. We had timecards and I always carried the maximum 2 days over (as in I'd worked 2 days more than my contract time per month).
I would come in, spend the first 2 hours fixing production issues from overnight, then do my normal work. My colleague would fire up the games as soon as the bosses left at 5 and play into the night. If there were deadlines I'd stay when required.
Who would be greeted with "half day then?" when I left? Not the games master who spent 1/3 of his day on other pursuits.
The answer, I started over communicating what I was doing. When I came into issues at 7 I made sure everyone was emailed so they knew I was on it then. When most people came in at 9 I made sure I was going for a coffee break as I'd been SO busy for the last couple of hours, took my lunch as soon as core hours allowed (as I had been in since silly o'clock, and it would be like going at 2pm if I came in when everyone else did!..) and then communicated about all my achievements at home time. After about a month they got the message and I could settle down. They never did rumble the games master though....
The somewhat sad reality is that you could potentially be looked upon as a slacker.
But that would be less likely if the word spreads that you are an efficient worker, and it is well-known that you simply get a lot done.
someone may stay from 7:00 AM til 11:00 PM every day and just fritter away the time on chitchat and social media.
And someone else may manage to work super-effectively with a fraction of the time.
But in the end, alot of this depends on your specific workplace. If everyone else stays from 9 AM til 7 or 8 PM, then probably you could be in trouble.
Edit: Yes, the linked post is excellent. Surely you can mention that you arrive to work 7:30 AM. Maybe ask them "hey remind me again , what time did you arrive here today?"
As long as management is OK then you'll be Ok