Like many other tech-companies, we have bookcases filled with work-related books. When I come to think of it, I have never seen any one reading an entire book during work hours. It seems that common practice is to read these books during free time, and during work hours only use them as references.

Is it considered okay to read work-related books from start to finish during work hours?

  • 2
    I'm not qualified to say what is 'considered ok'. In my experience I would not expect a developer to just sit and read a book all day long unless he or she has specifically been told to 'study on this new subject, start by reading this book'. I have seen this happen once or twice in 15 years. I've mostly worked in very liberal workplaces, but even so, I would find seeing someone just sitting reading a book to be unusual. If a developer is learning a new subject he might have his book open while he works through examples on his workstation. But not 'just reading'. Oct 16, 2012 at 16:53
  • in the tech industry most of us have tech books on our desks. depends on company culture. do not expect to get 'special time' for training at most companies. but slipping in time here and there is the norm. we all do it. its expected that we improve our skills.
    – Bob
    Oct 2, 2013 at 15:50
  • Unless the skill you are learning was required when you were hired, it may be inappropriate.
    – user67275
    Aug 30, 2020 at 4:23
  • Spending time for improving your work-related skill seems appropriate.
    – user67275
    Aug 30, 2020 at 4:23

2 Answers 2


I've experienced some cases when reading a book at work is ok (even encouraged):

  • You are learning a new technology, and your current task is to master the technology.
  • You have no task right now, and you spend this time to improve yourself. You need to tell about this to your management, of course.
  • You are an intern or a junior and you have much to learn before you can actually start working. This is quite common, especially if you are to work with a new technology or framework.

In all these cases you aren't spending/wasting your company's time on your personal needs. It is negotiable whether self-improvement is your own need or its your company's benefit to have improving staff. But still if you have task to do, and instead you read a book, I don't think your management will be pleased.


Firstly, understand which books are truly reading-worthy. If you have a book like "Windows Server 2012 Unleashed"... you probably want to keep it in the "Reference Only" category.

If I'm your manager, I'd want you to read up on system documentation and simple manuals covering components of our currently deployed system. Until you have those down, don't bother reading into broad systems information or books that are unrelated to what is currently in deployment.

  • 1
    +1 @Mechaflash, you're absolutely right about reading only the necessary books _ in my answer I pre-assumed the OP is talking only about books worth reading from cover to cover
    – superM
    Oct 20, 2012 at 8:25

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