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We have very flexible working hours in our (rather small, i.e. everybody knows everybody) company. For that, I sometimes come late to work, say after 11 a.m., rarely after 12 or 1 p.m. Now some time ago my coworkers started to make jokes about this. Some examples: they say that I always come late; they say I behave like a university student; when they have lunch they ask me if I want to join for my breakfast; they pretend being overly surprised when I show up at 8 or 9 a.m. You get the point. I would say that I am a person with a lot of humor, but this behavior and the way they make these jokes is for some reason starting to reeeeally annoy me. Do you have any advice, how to counteract this - without changing my work hours?

To prevent possible questions that might come up: My working hours do not impact negatively on my work being done. When there is the need for me to come early, e.g. for a meeting, I am there. Everybody is satisfied with what I do. These coworkers are also not my superiors and not even in the same projects as I am. Also, my boss and the coworkers that are in my projects are ok with my working hours (and they also make no jokes...).

marked as duplicate by David K, Jim G., IDrinkandIKnowThings, Mister Positive, gnat May 23 '17 at 18:29

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    Have you spoken to your boss about it? – John May 23 '17 at 16:00
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    So...if you come in to work late, do you stay late? You might try setting up meetings with them later in the day, well within your working hours but after theirs, and then "innocently" remark "oh, that's right, you leave work a lot earlier than I do, don't you?" Give back as good as you get and they'll either leave off, or at least you'll achieve parity. – Francine DeGrood Taylor May 23 '17 at 16:19
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    Does your company have "core hours" or something like that? – enderland May 23 '17 at 16:37
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    "Please stop doing that." Try saying this. – Masked Man May 23 '17 at 17:04
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    Are you absolute certain "flexible hours" means you can come and go whenever you want to? In most companies, flexible hours means you have some core hours(usually 10am-3pm or simiar), and outside of those, you can plan your own time as you wish. – cbll May 23 '17 at 18:21
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First talk to your boss about your hours and find out if indeed they are acceptable. There is a difference between flexible hours and coming in too late.

I have worked in lots of places with flex time. In none of them would 11 am or later have been acceptable unless you worked after midnight the day before. I can recall at least one person who got fired for coming in consistently after 10:30 am even though we had some flex in our work hours. There is such a thing as taking too much flex.

Your co-workers may be trying to tell you that you are violating the organizational culture and that your late hours are annoying to them because they have to wait for you to get in and that you are not being a team player by working such odd hours. They may actually be trying to help you in your career by getting you to move closer to the organizational norms.

You may be causing delays to them that you don't know about. You may be making it so all meetings have to be in the afternoon when they would rather have concentrated work time or that you you get to escape attending when they don't. Just because you like those hours and feel productive does not mean that your co-workers feel the same way.

Next you may feel you are more productive then, but do you coworkers really know that you are staying to work all the hours expected? Sometimes emails at 8 pm will help the perception that you don't work as hard because you come in late. You need to learn to manage your teammates' and boss's perceptions of what you do in order to succeed. You could be perceived as a slacker for coming in late. In my experience, morning people especially feel that way because they are not productive in the late afternoon or later. Think what you can do to make sure you are not perceived that way.

Another thing you could do is sit down privately with the worst offenders and ask them straight up why they have a problem with you coming in later if your boss does not. If they have a real problem, it might come out in this conversation and you can suggest a fix. If they say they are just joking, tell that the joke is no longer funny and and to stop.

How you handle people will depend on your assessment of their personality though. Some people are just jokesters and the best thing to do with them is to joke back and let all they things you say just roll off your back. Other people are trying to get you to conform to organizational norms and they won't stop until you do. Some people uses jokes as a way to bond and some use them as a way to put people down and make you look bad. You need to understand what they are trying to do with the joking before you can respond effectively.

It will help to get a training course on dealing with difficult people or read some books on this topic. Bullies need to be handled differently than jokers or people who just want you to work correctly (in their eyes). You need to do some analysis and ask some questions before you decide what to do.

  • That's for OP's line manager to decide. #1 to find out. – Captain Emacs May 23 '17 at 18:06
  • That's why I started with that. But this sounds to me more like a group that is pressuring him to meet organizational culture norms than anything else. – HLGEM May 23 '17 at 18:36
  • I absolutely agree with too much flex (and unpredictability) - team members need to be able to communicate effectively, and if someone is missing for a good chunk of the day this can end up delaying the whole team. Even if the business doesn't have "core hours" - professionals should still be aware of the effect of their "flex" on the team. – HorusKol May 24 '17 at 1:28
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Don't get too deep in the weeds with this.

IF you can possibly address this without getting the corporate infrastructure involved, do so.

To that end, here are some approaches, pick the one(s) that would work best in your environment

  1. Joke back when they leave. "Ah, leaving while the rest of us are burning the midnight oil, eh?"
  2. Joke back when you come in "When you're this good..." point to yourself and smile
  3. Tell them to knock it off, this can also be done humorously "Well, that was funny the first 500 times I heard that, but you really need to get a new act"
  4. Ignore it: Not recommended because it could damage your reputation
  5. Have an "offline" conversation with your boss. "Hey, they've been cracking jokes at my expense, and I'm afraid it might start damaging my reputation, what should I do". Make it clear that you don't want your boss to act at this time, but you may approach in the future.
  6. Stare at them and say nothing when they make a joke. That sends a message that you didn't think it was funny
  7. give them the Spock eyebrow and ignore (per @CaptainEmacs )

If none of this works, you may have to escalate, but try to handle it yourself first.

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    As a variant of option 1, pick a standard joke and use it every time. That joke is going to become just as boring to them as their jokes are to you, which may help get the point home. – Patricia Shanahan May 23 '17 at 16:42
  • passive aggressive responses are fun (heck they are my go to) but they are also unprofessional and a but immature. Yes do as I say not as I do because its your job on the line and saying SoylentGrey does it is not going to fly to your boss) – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 23 '17 at 16:55
  • @IDrinkandIKnowThings Workplaces vary, thus the different options. – Retired Codger May 23 '17 at 17:10
  • +1. I like this answer because it initially tries to keep the issue at the interpersonal level. That may foster relationship improvements. – OnoSendai May 23 '17 at 17:50
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    @CaptainEmacs I'm going to add the "spock eyebrow" to my list. Thank you. – Retired Codger May 23 '17 at 18:47
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It can be hard for others to realize that something can be truly funny once, a little tedious the next 10 or 15 times, and then actively offensive and upsetting if it continues on beyond that. Your coworkers will not come to this realization themselves, nor will you be able to get your feelings across to them with anything subtle such as not laughing, rolling your eyes, or abruptly changing the subject.

Instead, you will need to reply to the next joke in a way that makes it clear you have had enough and the joke is no longer funny. Be calm and polite, since the person you correct in this way may not have told the joke too many times all on their own, but only when combined with all the other people. Say something like:

Joe, enough, my hours have been arranged with [boss] and they work well for all of us. I've been teased enough on the matter.

Notice the use of the word "enough" which emphasizes that what has gone before may have been ok but now there has been enough of it; it's time to stop. It's also a bit of a trick to use the passive voice in the second sentence. By avoiding a "you" sentence you are less likely to get an arguing defensive response and by avoiding an "I" sentence it seems like there's less to argue with, more like reporting observed facts than like stating an opinion.

If you get some sort of "I'm just kidding you should be able to take a joke aw man don't be a buzz kill what's wrong with you it's funny" kind of response, don't get drawn into whether it used to be funny or not:

Everything gets old if it goes on long enough. I get it, I start later than other people, this is not breaking news, and I am done being teased about it, please find another source of humour.

This may or may not work. But getting angry, going to your boss to have people spoken to, or pretending you don't mind are all guaranteed not to work. So this is what I suggest you do.

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First, talk with your manager to make sure that your taking advantage of the flexible work hours is not a problem and that there is no issue with it. I have worked at many companies that claimed "Flexible work hours" to mean you could make up time you needed to take off during off hours but were still expected to work during the "Core Business Hours" (usually 9am-3pm) with a regular schedule. It is possible your manager is tolerating what they see as an abuse of the policy. If so it is probably good to clear that up before it become a real problem.

Assuming that it is not a problem, I would ask the manager to reinforce to the team that the company has a flexible work hours policy available. After that talk any time someone tries to make a joke at your expense about your work hours just agree that the flexible work hours are nice. It should cool off pretty quickly

  • This is a different definition of "Core Business Hours" than the ones I have worked with in the UK. There, Core business hours means the hours you are required to be at work even if working flexible hours (so it is possible to schedule meetings in advance, etc) - often they are two hours either side of the (standard, non-flexitime) lunch break time. (And insisting on scheduling your flexible lunch break to avoid attending a meeting in core working hours is usually considered to be antisocial behaviour!) – alephzero May 23 '17 at 18:24
  • @Alephzero - Yeah, I changed the hours to be more understandable. Those core business hours basically allow for a schedule that permits starting sometime at or after 6am and being done sometime at or before 6 pm on a normal everyday basis. – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 23 '17 at 18:32

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