I love my work, and I tend to work much longer hours than any of my coworkers. I typically avoid any direct mention of my hours or any such measure for fear of the reaction it typically inspires. I work on a small project with only a couple people. I don't expect others to work the same hours that I do, I just want them to work whatever hours make them happy. However, I'm concerned that my own work habits might have a negative impact on the atmosphere in the group; I.e. making others feel pressured to work longer hours than they want to, or making them "feel bad" that they don't work the same hours that I do. How can I maintain the work habits that I like and not risk negatively impact the group atmosphere?

There are some things that I already try:

  • Sometimes when people first join the team, scheduling & hours come up, at which point I will typically make the point that different people work different hours & schedules, and that they should find something that works comfortably for them. This is how I usually try to discuss these issues, keeping it a-personal.
  • When possible (it's usually not), I work on things outside our normal workplace.
  • I tend to shift my schedule so that I come in at a little late from a "normal" schedule and then just stay far past everyone else.

Maybe I'm overthinking this, but as an important figure in a small group I feel responsible at some level for encouraging a good workplace atmosphere regarding these things.

I'm quite happy with my work/life balance. This question isn't about that, and I'm not interested in comments about the matter.

  • 1
    May I ask how you get paid? Is it flat by the hour (for example $x per hour) or do you get paid more for overtime hours? Do you get paid for overtime at all? Are the other team members on the same pay system (even though $x may vary)?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 7:48
  • I get paid a flat monthly rate, no overtime, very similar system for other team members.
    – Sammy
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 9:31

3 Answers 3


This really depends on allot of factors. For instance the country you are in, I know in Germany for instance you really cannot get away with working longer than you are supposed to. This is even enforced on software installed on your computer in some companies, or a key-card system as well for larger companies, although this doesn't sound like your situation what country you are in can be very important.

Assuming this is not the case then it can depend on the people and the company. I personally do not feel pressure when my colleagues work longer than I do and if I felt pressure to work longer than what I am paid to I would probably look for another job. Every now and again I feel compelled to stay back if I have a deadline or something or feel like I need to get something accomplished but I don't stay back just because Fred is staying back, and I don't make a habit of it, if I had to stay back to get my job done there is either a problem with my performance or the company's management.

However if you are in one of those work places where there isn't enough to go round, or you are competing with someone who is doing extra hours then you might not be a happy camper. If I didn't get a promotion because Fred was doing 60 hours whilst I was doing 50 and that was the sole reason, yeah I would be pretty upset with Fred.

I strongly advise you not to tell others not to feel obliged to work longer just because you work longer than them. This can be taken very condescending as you are firstly assuming (whether or not it's true doesn't matter) that you are working longer than they are. Never do this. If you are worried about working longer can come off bad then work from home outside of hours and make your commits during work hours (if you are a software developer), but it sounds like you may already be doing that.

  • No, there are no such workplace regulations; there's plenty of work to go around; "...(don't) tell others not to feel obliged to work longer just because you work longer than them" - I'm much more tactful than that. I don't say this relating to me at all, just as these things come up in more general contexts.
    – Sammy
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 4:23
  • @Sammy why not pick up an open source project if you working hours become a problem?
    – Snowlockk
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 8:15
  • 2
    Totally agree with the last paragraph on (not) telling coworkers explicitly. I was going to include that in my answer as well.
    – PagMax
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 8:52
  • @Snowlockk I could, but I believe both the team & myself benefit significantly if I put more effort into the team project, so I've always prioritized that over personal projects.
    – Sammy
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 9:32
  • @Sammy just keep working as you are, if at some point there is a problem then pick up an open source project.
    – Snowlockk
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 9:36

If you do not change your attitude towards your co-workers, I don't think they'll feel pressured by this.

When working on a project where you feel that your team isn't putting enough effort, your attitude towards them quickly changes and you appear more hostile. Your group will notice this immediately.

If you refrain from this - you're fine.

  • Thanks for your second comment, I'll watch out for such situations.
    – Sammy
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 9:37

You're right in not mentioning your hours. Don't even make it an issue. Some people need 9 hrs of sleep a night and others just need 7.5. If longer hours works for you (Be honest), just shrug it off. As part of the discussion of finding what hours work for them, let them know that you are concerned with them burning out. If they say they like working a typical work day 9-5, they let them know you may question them if they stay late. Jokingly threaten to unplug their computer at 5:15.

Of course things come up. Situations change. The idea isn't to lock them into a time frame or make some kind of formal commitment. Just let them know that if they're not careful, they can push themselves too hard. Make sure they understand you're approaching this from a long-term perspective.

And don't let others get away with pass-aggressive comments like "Are you leaving already?" Squash that nonsense.

  • That last comment is VERY important to prevent a toxic work culture. Playing the "who leaves last" (i.e. to be perceived as the most-working) is common in some countries, but work/life balance is no one’s business but yours.
    – breversa
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 9:30

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