Burning the Midnight Oil….Yes or No?

When the boss works late, does that mean staff has to follow suit?

Many employees worry that even if they put in hours beyond the regular workday, their bosses—who work even longer days—expect them to match the same schedule. Such assumptions can be disastrous. Employees may feel the need to sneak out of the office, or conversely, stay and neglect home responsibilities. A manager may worry that the employee who leaves early or even at the usual end-of-work hour is unavailable or will miss a deadline.

Experts have advice about this common workplace situation.

1. Check your assumptions. Clarify the manager’s expectations. Don’t immediately assume that the boss expects you to match his or her schedule. The manager’s reasons for working long hours may simply be a personal preference.

2. Be a team player. Working after hours occasionally shows the boss you’re willing pitch in, especially if a major deadline looms. Pick a time to stay when the boss is actually there to see your effort.

3. Reassure your boss. When a manager questions an employee about the number of hours on the job, the reason is usually to feel reassured that a deadline will be met. If that’s the case, be ready to show the boss your progress to allay those concerns. Keep a progress report to illustrate you’re on track.

Discussion: Why do experts say employees shouldn’t try to imply they are in the office by, say, leaving a coat draped over their chair? How might you begin to negotiate with a manager who expects you be available beyond traditional work hours and you are unable to do so? How has technology such as e-mail and cell phones added to employees’ workdays?

Source: Shellenbarger, S. (2014, February 19). When the boss works long hours, do we all have to? The Wall Street Journal, p. D1.

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