So I've read through How do I maintain a work-life balance when company culture tends towards frequent overtime? and that is very similar situation that I found myself in.

There's no explicit guidelines or any instructions to stay late to work, but it seems like half of the developers here seem to stay overtime without receiving extra pay for it.

I have 10 minute lunch break while lot of people go out for 45~1 hour lunch breaks.

It feels bad everytime I have to leave on time while some of the other developers on my team are still working.

All in all, I make sure that I am on schedule and meeting deadlines. However, I just don't understand why the other developers work extra hours even when there's no real pending reason. It seems like they end up with more work to do because they are working ahead of time. I double checked that there's no overtime pay or compensation at all with HR. So what is the explanation of this behavior? Should I follow or not?

This is quite stressful to think about. There's no set guidelines of when to start working or when to stop. As long as projects are completed on time is what they keep telling me and they are, but why are some of the other developers staying behind to do extra work? Is that how you get promoted or get a salary bump?

We have this web app where we have the option of recording how much hour we spend each day but this is for project managers and definitely not for calculating overtime pay. It seems like me and another person are the only ones to actually leave and not do overtime work. Sometimes I do but that's because the project is urgent and I do not mind that at all. But it's like this group behavior that worries me because if I have to keep working overtime like that it wouldn't work for me. I need to have a set time limit to concentrate and work in bursts, I can't do coding marathons....

  • 3
    Are you asking why would anyone do overtime without no extra pay? or are you asking how to confront and tell management that you are not okay to do overtime without extra pay or for that matter you don't want to do overtime at all? Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 6:47
  • You heard all work and no play makes jack a dull boy ? A little bit of overtime is okay. But too much can reduce your productivity, thereby making overtime useless or even harmful to your mind and health. Your call. Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 1:36

6 Answers 6


If you know this kind of regular overtime work isn't for you (which I think is a healthy attitude, but it's also a personal preference), then just don't do it. Most probably nobody will complain, since you are on schedule and meeting deadlines.

If it does become a problem, you'll still have the option of having a discussion with your supervisor about it and explaining you just can't be productive on that kind of schedule in the long term. And if it turns out they really do expect those kinds of hours, well, you should probably just start looking for another job - it doesn't sound like a good fit for you.

As for why everyone else is doing it - I wouldn't worry too much about it. Maybe you just got a group of "workaholics" by chance. Maybe they spend half their day checking their email and make up for it with later hours. Maybe they're all looking at each other and not wanting to be the first to leave, or don't know why it's going on any better than you do. Or maybe there really is a practical reason why most people in the group are keeping those hours, but if that's the case, you'll find out sooner or later, and I don't think it'd worth going along with that kind of schedule until you at least know what's going on.

You sound very stressed out about it, and I think feeling stressed out about your job is much more likely to hurt your productivity and your position in the team than the hours you keep.

  • 2
    after reading this it made me feel more easy. I feel more productive and don't have that guilt anymore. Interestingly, I am starting to notice the other guys who used to stay behind are leaving slightly earlier now!
    – joezlja
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 5:45
  • 2
    There are also people not too keen to go back home (maybe they have problems or have no one waiting for them)
    – algiogia
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 11:46

Back in my consulting/contracting days the company had a simple rule - if you work, it goes on your timesheet. If the client doesn't care to pay for your time, don't work it.

If you're working and not getting paid for it you're effectively taking a pay cut. Too often this is sort of a co-dependent thing - the boss gives subtle (or perhaps not-so-subtle) hints that extra time is appreciated/needed/required (choose your level of abuse :-) and people then pick up on this and start working over/extra. If eight people each put in one hour of extra time per day, that pretty much saves the company from bringing in one more developer. Hey, must be time for bonuses and parties all 'round, right?


What happens is more likely the following:

  1. Management learns that they can get something for nothing.
  2. Employees learn that they can get nothing for something. Grumbles start.
  3. Management wants more (the old "free milk and a cow" thing, kinda :-).
  4. Employees get burned out.
  5. Employees bail, remainder are asked/nudged/pushed/expected to cover "on a temporary basis"/"during our current crisis"/"for ever".
  6. And the spiral continues downward...

Working free overtime does neither you nor your employer any good in the long term. If you're working for a "short term benefit" company do yourself a favor and move.

  • 1
    What also happens is: The good people (qualified enough to get a job elsewhere) leave. After some time, the people left are only those who can't get a job elsewhere.
    – Josef
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 5:56

First of all don't assume that high desk time is proof someone is working harder. Most people can't maintain working at anywhere near capacity for over eight hours, especially in an intellectually taxing job like programming. The majority of the time when people put in longer hours they end up working significantly below capacity (surfing on the net ect.). Although that may suit some people better it is no more productive and is often less so.

The key here is to be confident in your results. If you are producing your work then there is nothing to be worried about and no need to do overtime or change your habits. Any descent manager will judge you based on results rather than desk time.


Are you getting your work done on time? If so, kudos to you - you're much more efficient than those staying late. There's a massive difference between working smart and working hard - in fact, as a manager, I often look poorly at members of my team who have to stay and work late because they aren't as productive as they need to be - so, in short, unless there's an additional project at work that you want to put extra time in (or are staying because you've been specifically asked), don't fret - you're working right.

As far as the timetracking piece goes - use it and track your time based on exactly what you've done - your efficiency will shine through, which will also look good.

  • 1
    +1 for letting your results speak for themselves and demonstrating your efficiency - getting your work done in "normal hours" is a Good thing! Overtime is sometimes inevitable, but chronic overtime is often a sign that something is broken (either with the worker or the company's expectations)
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 20:01

As long as your manager isn't pressing you to do overtime and you're not being penalized for your schedule, don't worry about it. People have different work habit's, don't stress out about other's habits unless they are negatively effecting you.

If you want to know how you get promoted or a salary bump, ask your supervisor.


If you have regular reviews in your organization then that would be the appropriate time and place to ask the boss directly if there really is an unwritten 'face time' policy.

If not, then then just meet the boss in private and ask the question in a frank and professional manner. Don't be emotional, don't talk about 'feelings'.

Just ask if he's OK with your work routine or not.


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