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I am a web developer for 1 year in a company, and i am undergoing a very complex work/life balance situation.

To keep in short terms: i accepted this work, moving from my home town to a bigger city, in order to build my life and everything (i am 26 years old now, i was 25). But my lunch break lasts 2h, and at the very start it was ok, the major sacrifice was travelling for a total of 4h a day. But now that i am here i still not have the time to live my life because of it.

Most of my colleagues go home with their cars, while i don't have a car and neither i have the money to buy one; i come here with a bike because is faster and for sure less expensive then public transportation like bus. My company isn't really in the center of the big city, but in a town smaller than my hometown; it's not hard to reach, 20min with bike, but moving near my company just for this is not an option since i will lose the main factor of living in a bigger city with all its benefits.

So: i want to ask for a lunch break reduction, i need 30min to eat. I think that it last so long in order to keep as long as they can the employers in the company for some right reasons like meetings and assistance. But in this role, especially my position where i rarely speak with my colleagues such is relaxed (like, 15min a day and for things that are not even important) my phyisical presence here is useless, and it cannot happen to have an emergency where i am required at the end of the day; it never happened and it never will since i just don't have that type of responsabilities.

But still, even if i know that there's no need for me to stay that long, and proven that i really need to come home earlier in order to restore some work/life balance to not get crazy (i am 26 y/o), and that i don't want to come home in the middle of the day (especially for the risk of going around without many bicicycle paths, but it's anyway tiresome) i think that this is a very unprofessional thing to ask, since "everybody's the same under the same roof".

So how can i ask a lunch break reduction to my administrator (which is not the boss, but his wife)?

EDIT: I ask to the administrator rather then my boss because she handles all the papers realted to hiring process and so; but she is more hard to convince then my boss. Actually when i was in the traineeship i asked for a reduction of 1h because of the long travel (4h) but when i became an official worker she said "you will be like the others, no matter what".

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    I would go to your boss first to talk to him about it. Ultimately it's your manager, not the HR/administrator, who will understand what is best for his employees and his group as a whole. The fact that your boss is married to the administrator complicates things a bit; but if you have a good relationship with your boss it's likely he will help you to make your case. – Dan A. Jul 15 '16 at 16:30
  • I guess you just ask again. 2 hr lunch just seems unreasonable. Do other people even like it? "You will be like the others, no matter what" does not seem to be an employee friendly environment. – paparazzo Jul 15 '16 at 16:34
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    What is the purpose of a two hour lunch? Are you in a Spanish speaking country and this time is the afternoon siesta? – JasonJ Jul 15 '16 at 16:36
  • Not clear if you have a 20 minute or 1 hr commute. – paparazzo Jul 15 '16 at 17:43
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    Look Mark, I can't advise you properly here since I don't know all the details of your situatior and I haven't been in a similar one. However I've been in the situation where I had to spend most of the day at work due to a horrible commute situation (going out home at 5am and coming back at 10pm) and ended up realizing it was not worth. I was missing too much of my life, so I ended up moving out. So all I can tell you here is, if you're not fine with your situation, there are other jobs, always. – user49901 Jul 17 '16 at 13:29
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You are making this way more complicated than it needs to be. Simply say to your administrator that you would like to reduce your lunch break from two hours to 30 minutes, so that you can get home earlier. There isnt anything more to it than that. The answer will either be yes, no, or the administrator offering a compromise.

  • it is not unprofessional to ask? I am asking here since this is my first job, otherwise i would already have done so, i don't know how this kind of requests works. – MarkWuji Jul 17 '16 at 9:35
  • No, there is nothing wrong with asking. – Keltari Jul 17 '16 at 16:26
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Your whole post could have been cut down to a few short sentences. Make sure you better organize your thoughts when you go to speak to your manager.

As with many things in life, how you approach the issue is going to make all the difference in the world. Don't come across and accusing, bitter, or threatening.

"Boss, as you know I spend quite a bit of time on the road, and I only end up getting home around X PM. I would really appreciate if you would consider allowing me to take a shorter lunch and leave earlier."

However, brace yourself for rejection.

Quite simply, I'm sure there was a pretty good reason for this policy to be initially adopted. And while it suits many employees very well, I'm also certain that others would rather get home earlier and get on with their lives than be in the office for 10 hours a day.

If they make an exception for you, then others will request the same "special treatment", and next thing you know half the company is going home at 3 PM, while the other half sticks around until 5. This is bound to lead to some unpleasant issues for management.

If the lack of a work/life balance is indeed a big issue for you (and it would be for me too - I would never commute for 4 hrs a day) then simply start looking for a new job, and be very careful about these sort of policies before accepting a new offer.

  • Agree with the organization comment. The start of the question that goes into the travel time and how the OP gets to work seems pretty irrelevant. – Nuclear Wang Jul 15 '16 at 16:50
  • And the OP should remember that the workplace does not have an interest in how long his commute is. Presumably he knew that before he took the job. It is irrelevant to the decision. – HLGEM Jul 15 '16 at 20:37
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I would attempt to get it informally from your boss. Try to just get one day at first

"Hi , listen I need to get home early tomorrow, is it ok if i skip lunch and leave at ?"

Think of a good, but not vital excuse, eg. I'm expecting a delivery, My wife needs me to pick something up etc

If they say no, try a different day, maybe its just they need you for a meeting or something. Maybe try "Can I come in late and skip lunch instead?"

Once you get one day, leave it a week and ask for another, maybe a couple in a row. You are trying to introduce the idea that nothing goes wrong when this happens, you still get your work done etc. So give it time to bed in.

After a few weeks of this hopefully you can either ramp up to it being every day and no one cares, or its come to a head and your boss has said:

"Hi , listen, I need you to be around in the afternoons, you cant keep skipping lunch"

But then the shoe is on the other foot, you can ask for the reason:

"Oh! sorry I thought it was ok, obvs I still do my hours, It is reaaaaally usefull to me getting home early, are you sure you need me in? whats the reason?"

Once you have a reason from them its much easier to progress because you can work around it.

"OK I see that you need me around for the evening meeting, can I come in late instead?"

Or object that it is unreasonable

"Look I know it must be annoying for bob that he cant skip lunch, but really that shouldn't affect my hours"

At this point you have something concrete to goto HR about. At the end of the day though you have to be prepared to look for a new job

  • As a manager, if someone comes with a cheap excuse and learns from it as a chance to get it his own way I'd end up letting this guy go. This advice can backfire badly if the culture is not that easy going. – user49901 Jul 15 '16 at 19:02
  • At this point you have something concrete to goto HR about. No, you don't. All you have is that your manager doesn't want to keep doing the same favor on a daily basis. Why should HR care about that? – BSMP Jul 15 '16 at 20:55
  • Concrete as in you want something you are not allowed for reason X. Rather than 'you want something' – Ewan Jul 16 '16 at 7:36
  • I think is better to face the thing ina straight way, my boss is more friendly then my administrator. – MarkWuji Jul 17 '16 at 9:37
  • The problem with going direct to admin is the easiest thing for them to do is just say 'no' where as your boss can be more flexible on an ad hoc basis and once you are doing it its a the status quo and admin will have to find a reason to change it – Ewan Jul 17 '16 at 11:25

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