Lets say:

  • A company states that it does not require its employees to work overtime.
  • About 90% of its employees work extra hours because they get paid for it, or they even work when they do not get paid extra.
  • There is a worker who sometimes works until 4 AM, not because of some emergency situation such as a server crash, but just to meet a deadline and they do not even ask for extra money.
  • Colleagues who work the most overtime are praised often and encouraged to race against each other in terms of number of hours worked.

You are a person for whom standard hours are more than enough (the money earned is also enough). How can you avoid being undervalued as a 9-to-5 developer and seen as unproductive person while 90% of colleagues put in paid and unpaid overtime?

One more condition:

closed as primarily opinion-based by nvoigt, Lilienthal, gnat, Chris E, IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 14 '16 at 20:45

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Deadlines that require massive amounts of overtime are unrealistic deadlines and show that the company may not have its corporate heads based in reality. – JasonJ Jul 14 '16 at 13:38
  • @will_create_nick_later: I was having a difficult time understanding your question. I've edited it in attempt to make it clearer. If I've changed the meaning or made other changes you don't like, please edit the question to make it more to your liking. Or you view the editing history to rollback my changes. – GreenMatt Jul 14 '16 at 15:02
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    @Will_create_nick_later The only thing that comes to mind is reddit. In general if you're looking to discuss a situation/ocurrrence or solicit experiences you're looking for a forum. You'd post on a Q&A site like this if you have a practical question which can be practically and reasonably answered. For instance, if you had asked "How can I avoid being undervalued as a 9-to-5 developer while all my colleagues put in unpaid overtime?" that's appropriate and on-topic since you want to solve a practical problem. – Lilienthal Jul 14 '16 at 15:13
  • You can still edit your question to ask that instead of course! But keep in mind that the answers could very well be "You can't." If your company has a culture of unpaid overtime and you refuse to play ball then you may well end up being replaced quickly. – Lilienthal Jul 14 '16 at 15:14
  • Possible duplicate of Why is it important to gain "visibility" in the workplace? – gnat Jul 14 '16 at 16:36

In short, yes. There is even a term for it that has been around for decades, it's called "A strict nine-to-fiver". It means you can be counted on to do the bare minimum and nothing else. It also sends the message that you have no ambition.

The old saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" applies here.

Since this is the corporate culture, you are essentially making yourself a "bad fit". If you want to advance in this particular company, you need to fit into the corporate culture, that means taking some overtime. not necessarily working 80 hours a week, but picking up a few hours here and there will get you off the "strict nine-to-five" radar.

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    Or change the company? – Will_create_nick_later Jul 14 '16 at 12:30
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    @Will_create_nick_later Or start your own, or leave the company. Trying to change a corporate culture is tilting at windmills at best, career suicide at worst. – Retired Codger Jul 14 '16 at 12:33
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    "It means you can be counted on to do the bare minimum and nothing else. It also sends the message that you have no ambition." Or it just means that is the wrong company for you. There are plenty of offices where working only your 8 hours a day is completely normal and expected and doesn't imply that you have no ambition. Yes, you'll work extra when in a crunch, but this is rare and shouldn't happen if your managers can plan things effectively. – David K Jul 14 '16 at 12:42
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    @DavidK in the context of the corporate culture, the message you will be sending is that you are not a go-getter. The OP wanted to know if it could restrict him, and at that company, Yes. – Retired Codger Jul 14 '16 at 12:45
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    @Will_create_nick_later at your company, it seems to be what is expected and they will hold it against you. I am not saying that you are lazy or unambitious, just at that particular company, it is how your actions will be interpreted. You may just not be a good fit for that company or they are not a good fit for you. But if you wish to advance at that particular company, you must meet their particular expectations. – Retired Codger Jul 14 '16 at 13:50

The situation you describe is one where the culture is to do extra time, and not doing that will likely mark you as slack/uninterested/underachiever etc.

Of course what they don't get is a much more important fact here, they have no idea what their projects ACTUALLY cost, and ultimately this will be their undoing.

Given people are routinely doing overtime (mostly unpaid by the sound of it), means that they will not be factoring this into any budgeting of work. So for example if you work 40 hrs a week, and a project/task takes 2 weeks, they cost you as taking 80 hrs, but of course you are working say 10-15 hrs a week off the clock, which means their metrics are now what, 25-35% out (your 4 am colleague is even worse).

What will happen is that each time these numbers feed back into the system (in estimations), they will drift further (compounding), until you get to the situation we've all seen where a project "mysteriously" takes twice as long.

Ironically this will get worse the more the company/team achieves, my advice is look for somewhere else, you'll be undervalued unless you join, but ultimately it'll be pointless as they are on a collision course with disaster.


"encouraged to race against each other in terms of number of hours worked." - Red flag for me right here. Encouraging a bad work/life balance is bad for everyone.

Working a few extra hours when needed is acceptable. You have been payed to do a job, do the job or agree you need more pay or a new job.

For me a strict 9 to 5 person is someone who does it regardless of anything else. If you can get your job done in the time you have during normal hours that is not a sign of anything but an effective worker.

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