A coworker in my new job, being on notice period has to hand over his projects to me. I was tasked by my manager to get introduced into the projects and ask my coworker for assignments for Friday and Monday we arranged a time when he will be at work, since he is getting in usually quite late.

On Friday I arrived at work like 3 hours before the agreed time1, but my co worker arrived 2 hours after that appointment. When he arived I had still like 2.5 hours left to get into it.

He appeared clueless about what he was doing and also when I asked him about what he actually tries to do, he wasn't really able to explain what we actually try to do. After 2 hours I told him that I will have to leave in a bit less than 1 hour, so if we could try to focus on giving me a task for Monday now. That coworker seems to treat me like I have no programming experience at all, despite the fact that I already have some years of professional programming experience, just not with techs he knows.

So at the time I planed to leave, he told me I should now do so, since I had some private appointments, while he appeared to gave up already. I told him that I still have no task for Monday and that I can't leave now, so if he please could assign me a task I can work on, on Monday until he will arrive. So he tried a bit more to set up the working environment on my machine and a bit of general programming advise. I left 1.5 hours later as I had to leave with still no real task.

Should I simply surf around and inform my self about general coding stuff, as he tasked me for monday? Should I Just adapt my working time to arrive in time with him?2 Or should I walk into my managers office and explain him the situation?

1since I have to commute for like 2 hours per way(!) and thats hard to handle while still being on trial period

2but since thats an special agreement with superiors and outside of the core working times, I even would behave bad by doing so

  • While I'm totally aware of the fact that this question is quite a bit overloaded, what will be improved as soon I'll have the time tomorrow, I dissaggre with it beeing unclear what I'm asking. The question is clearly pointed out as beeing "What to do if I was tasked to get my work asigned by a coworker but he wasn't able to do so?" and after providing the possible solutins I came up with asking "So, are there any options I haven't considered yet? If not so, which of the 3 options wold be the prefareable one?"
    – Zaibis
    Jun 17, 2017 at 13:30
  • 4
    The amount of time your commute takes has no bearing whatsoever to your employer. It is quite literally your own problem. If you were to use it as any kind of point at work, they would simply say that you should move closer to work. Jun 18, 2017 at 8:20
  • For clarity - Is this your question?: "A coworker who is leaving the company needs to help you set up your computer and assign his tasks to you. He arrived a little late on Friday and so you have nothing to for Monday and you are asking what should you do?"
    – user45269
    Jun 18, 2017 at 18:25
  • @Prinz: Well he arived a little late on friday and after spending 4 hours with me, he still wasnt able to do so. but yeah, sumarized thats it.
    – Zaibis
    Jun 19, 2017 at 6:01
  • @JuhaUntinen: I'm not trying to make a point about it. I just gave here my perosnal reasons based on it, why I won't do something my employer wouldn't expect me to do anyways. I totally understand your point.
    – Zaibis
    Jun 19, 2017 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


This is why you have a boss. It may also be why this person is leaving. You have two separate things you need:

  • a list of what the leaving person was working on, so that you can start to work on that list instead
  • a usable workstation setup so that you can actually do the work on it

The first of these you can apparently get only from the coworker. But he sees the second as a blocker, since you can't do things until your workstation is ready. He probably doesn't want to fill up your brain with a verbal list that you can't connect to anything tangible. And according to you he isn't very good at this second one.

So here you are facing a Monday with nothing to do. And with no workstation set up to do it. And with no idea how the workstation should be set up.

Go to your manager. Get across that the leaving person did not give you a list of tasks to work on and did not tell you where the work list is kept. Further, the leaving person didn't finish setting up your machine and didn't tell you what steps remain to be completed. Your manager may be able to give you setup instructions, a worklist, or a number of other things. You may also quietly point out now that on Friday you weren't tongue tied from "too much input" but rather from frustration that the leaving person wasn't giving you the input you needed: but do this as a precursor to asking precisely for what you need. Don't look at this as "badmouthing your coworker", look at it as "telling the truth about what you need to do what you have been asked to do." It's important.

It's normal for things to be kind of stop-and-go when you first start in a position. There are far more blockers than there will be later - you need access to systems, you need things installed, and so on - right when th3 folks who can help you are busier than usual (removing access for the leaving person, making lists of work because everything is just in someone's head, trying to redo schedules) and it's just part of the process that some of your time will be wasted.

You can help by being as crisp and precise as you can. If your workstation can't connect to the system where people track work, don't say "I can't work" say "I can't connect to the ABC system yet." If you have a list of tasks but don't know which specific one you should do, ask "which of these 4 things is the one I should do first?" not "what should I do now?" If you arrive at the agreed on time and the leaving person is nowhere in sight, find your manager and ask for what you need. But ask well, not vaguely.

  • 2
    By the way, I want to say thanks for this answer and the time put into facing my problem and thinking about to solve it. I'm aware it probably took quite some time!
    – Zaibis
    Jun 17, 2017 at 13:23

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