In this specific company, work hours are very flexible. The only rules are:

  • You must be at work between 9h30 and 11h30, and between 13h30 and 15h30. (1:30-3:30pm)
  • You must work a certain number of hours per week, but we don't care when you do so.
  • You cannot work before 7h30, after 18h (6 pm) or on week-ends and holidays.
  • Your lunch break must last at least 45 minutes every day.

Because of a specific bus Schedule, I can either arrive at work at 7h25 or 8h55. Leaving work is a bit more flexible.

I do not want to work until 5pm on an average day, so I'm usually aiming for a 7h30-15h30 work day. Very few people actually show up that early, most people seem to like 9-5 (9-17h) more.

I personally never call meetings before 9h30 in the morning, because some members of my team would not be there on time. That just seems logical. On the other hand, the "optional" hours at the end of the day (after 15h30/3:30pm) don't seem off limits. Many people call meetings during those hours. I guess it's easier to ask someone to stay a bit later today, than it is to figure out how to reach them before they come in to make them get to the office earlier.

I'm pretty sure nobody is trying to be inconvenient here. There are meetings at almost any hour of the day. One specific person probably figures "well, 15h30-16h30 (3:30-4:30pm) is the most convenient, and X won't mind staying a bit later today, he'll have less work to do the rest of the week!". That makes sense. I wouldn't mind every now and then.

But in my position, I happen to have to attend meetings with many different groups of people, and of course different meeting organisers. The accumulation of those really screw up my Schedule.

Of course, I could just invite some of those people to 7h30am meetings, in a passive-agressive way, but that's really not something I'd be comfortable with doing.

There's also the same problem with people who seem to notice when I'm about to leave the office, and choose that specific time to come see me and ask questions about work (that could have been asked earlier or could wait until tomorrow without creating problems), or just to discuss work-related things, which also force me to stay later, while of course the same never happens to them in the morning.

So the Question is: How can I politely make people understand that if they aren't willing or able to get to work earlier for some tasks, they shouldn't expect me to stay later for those same tasks?

Of course, feel free to tell me if I'm the one being unreasonable. I don't think I am, but I could be wrong.

  • Have you discussed this with your manager? Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 16:40
  • 2
    He is one of the people I'm asking how to politely mention the problem to. Some of the meeting-calling people I mentioned are managers, and mine is one of them.
    – Kaito Kid
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 16:43
  • 9
    If you take the bus home as well, you can stop the folks grabbing you on your way out by saying "Can we talk tomorrow? I don't want to miss my bus."
    – David K
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 17:11
  • Are these meetings that would be bad for you to miss or is it possible that most of them your attendance is optional? Have you tried suggesting a new time inside your workhours? Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 17:13
  • Are you using a shared calendar like Outlook or Google to schedule these meetings? Possibly accept one or two afternoon meetings, and then block the other afternoons with "private appointments"
    – HorusKol
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 1:14

2 Answers 2


I have the opposite issue being the person who comes to work the latest. This is based on how I have handled that.

First block off the hours you are not going to be in the office on your email calendar. That makes them show as unavailable times when people try to set up a meeting. If they give you a meeting request for after your hours turn it down and suggest a time within the core hours for the meeting (that's why you have core hours). If it is an urgent issue be willing to have some flex but urgent means a deadline is going to be missed unless you do something and you were unavailable earlier or there is a work stoppage that cannot wait until the next day to fix. It doesn't mean the person calling the meeting couldn't be bothered to bring this up earlier and now he is missing a deadline. When you take up an urgent issue just after your hours, make sure to mention that to people to reinforce that they are asking you for a favor and remind them that you work different hours.

Next, when people come up to you as you are getting ready to leave, tell them to set up a meeting in the morning as you need to leave. The key phrase to use is, "Can it wait until tomorrow? I was just getting ready to leave." However do have the conversation if the issue is clearly urgent and cannot wait until morning.

Then talk to your manager about how other people do this to you and ask for his help in making it clear that your work hours are earlier than theirs and that they need to respect that. Talk about the bus schedules and how a ten minute conversation at the end of the day can mean you have to wait another 20-30 minutes for a bus home (assuming that is true) or whatever impact on your personal life this continual extension of your hours creates. Since others besides your boss are doing this, you don't need to point out specifically that he is also doing it.

Be aware though that this may be company culture that early hours are not encouraged. If they are not willing to let you turn down meeting requests and your boss offers no support once you explain the issue to him, then is may be time to find a different company that works more to your hour preferences.

  • 6
    +1 "block off the hours you are not going to be in the office" - this is a great solution. OP could start by blocking the time after 15:30 for MWF only, leaving TTh open for those emergency meetings.
    – cheshire
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 17:50
  • 6
    The core hours portion of this answer is, I think, one of the most important parts and should even be emphasized more. Core hours exist to make sure that everyone (barring vacation or sick leave) is available during certain hours. It's one thing if it's an urgent issue. I'd consider a lack of respect for core hours to be a significant company culture problem. Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 18:11
  • 1
    This is what I do, I block off my out of office times in Outlook. That way, I show as "unavailable" when someone schedules a meeting. If they schedule it after hours anyway, I reply with "suggest an alternate time" and explain that I need to leave at whatever time in my response. We're pretty big on WebEx/GoTo Meetings, so often, no face to face time is required.
    – DLS3141
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 18:22

This isn't really complicated. When you are approached, say:

"I'm sorry, I'm ending my day now but I'd be more than open to discussing that later. Can you put a meeting time in our Outlook calendar?" You may need to repeat the same statement (make variations, though) before the listener tunes in and realizes you're setting a boundary.

If you don't say anything, then implicitly you're giving whomever you're dealing with the permission to drag you into evening hours.

  • 1
    That seems like an answer for the "rushes into my office as I'm leaving to talk work", but doesn't really work for Outlook meetings scheduled a few days in advance
    – Kaito Kid
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 17:21
  • The person could schedule the meeting for the next day.
    – Xavier J
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 17:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .