my coworker keeps making snide comments about my hours

A reader writes:

I work in a small office (less than 10 people), with several colleagues being out in the field during the day. There are typically only three of us who are in the office during the entire workday (myself included). I typically get in 10 minutes before I am supposed to be in, and leave within 10 minutes of my day being “done.” I stay past that if I need to wrap something up or if I am working on something with colleagues.

However, every day without fail, another office worker, Jane, will make a comment about how “It’s barely afternoon!” or “There she goes, it must be time for her to leave!” or “Must be nice!” Jane typically gets in 10 minutes before me and leaves up to an hour and a half after me. She has been at the company 20+ years and is several decades my senior. I am the office manager, and Jane is in a different department. My boss has said nothing, but will make mention of me staying late, usually with a “thanks for finishing this through” note or email on days when I leave past my scheduled time.

My question is, should I say something when Jane makes these remarks? I typically laugh, or say something non-committal. I do not want a confrontation – one of the key aspects of being hired here was how well a new hire “gels” with the team. Should I just keep smiling? It’s getting to a point where I intentionally stay later and later every day to avoid hearing Jane’s remarks.

I’d appreciate your thoughts, even if you just tell me I am blowing this out of proportion. Thank you!

Ugh, that’s annoying. Jane saying “must be nice” when you’re leaving could be just an obnoxious way of saying “I wish I was leaving soon too,” but “It’s barely afternoon!” or “There she goes, it must be time for her to leave!” sure sounds a lot like open disapproval. It’s also really rude — if she has a legitimate issue with your hours, she should raise it, but just making snide comments when you’re leaving is pretty jerky.

You have two different options here:

1. Say something to Jane. Take what she’s saying at face value, act as if she must be expressing concern for a reason, and ask her sincerely if the time you leave is causing problems. For example: “Hey, I’ve noticed that you comment a lot on the time that I’m leaving. I’ve arranged my schedule with (manager), but I want to make sure that my leaving time isn’t impacting you. Is there something that you’ve been needing from me after I’m gone?” It’s very likely that the answer to this will be “no,” but by putting the issue right out on the table and dealing with it in a mature, straightforward manner (which she is not doing), you make it a lot harder for her to continue making those remarks in the future. (And if she does say “yes, actually it’s causing X problem,” it’ll be good to learn that and figure out a solution, but I suspect that’s unlikely to happen.)

I’m a big fan of this approach for situations where someone is making snide comments rather than speaking openly about whatever is bugging them. A lot of the time, by just nicely and straightforwardly asking if they’d prefer you to do something differently, you can nudge them into realizing that they’re being unreasonable, and thus shut them up. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a shot, and you’re certainly not going to look bad for asking — to the contrary, you’ll look reasonable and considerate.

2. Ignore her. If you’re sure that your manager is fine with your hours, it’s not unreasonable to just write Jane off an office annoyance and ignore her. If you’re not sure that your manager is fine with your hours, verify that first, but once you have that confirmation, internally roll your eyes at Jane’s comments and know that it’s none of her business.

By the way, you mentioned that you sometimes laugh when Jane makes these comments. I think some people would endorse that approach (and treating what she’s saying as a joke is sometimes the opposite of defensiveness), but I’d argue it’s not really funny and your laughing may be giving her implicit permission to continue her comments. I’d rather have you calmly say “Yes, I’m done with my day” or just not respond at all.

{ 164 comments… read them below }

  1. Sans

    My first thought when seeing she said “There she goes, it must be time to leave!” was to calmly say “Yes, it is.” and keep walking on out.

    As long as your boss is happy with your hours, don’t let her intimidate you into staying longer than you need to.

    1. BadPlanning

      I was just pondering if saying, “Yes, it is my time to leave” in a calm manner would retrain the coworker from snarky comments to more of an automated, “Yes, it is OPs time to leave.”

    2. TootsNYC

      oh yeah, don’t let her intimidate you into leaving later!

      This is exactly what she is going for.

    3. BRR

      Reading the entire thing I’d try option 1 to which the answer is likely no (and if it’s yes figure out why she doesn’t need you until after you’re leaving). As long as you’re not leaving early, just own it. I work with a number of people who come in a little late, take a long lunch, and leave a little early. It doesn’t sound like you’re doing that so just say “Have a good night Jane” or something like that.

    4. LBK

      I love playing dumb in these situations, which I find works well when you don’t really want to directly call someone out. As innocently and genuinely as you can muster, say something like “Oh, my normal schedule is until 4 so I’m all wrapped up – did you need something?” and just wait and see what she says.

      1. Camellia

        I would be concerned that she might manage to come up with something, just to force me to stay late; she sounds like she might be that kind of person. I like Alison’s first response above as a general approach, rather than one in-the-moment.

        1. BeenThere

          Yeah I wouldn’t want to give her an opening to hold me hostage, I have bosses that loved to do that.

        2. Viva L

          That’s when you say “Ok, my normal are until 5pm, and I need at least an hour to work on this, so can you get it to me before 3pm? That way we have a little wiggle room if there’s edits or if something else comes up. No worries if not, I can always work on it first thing in the morning! ::smiles sweetly::”

          Done and done.

    5. Cynthia R

      That was my first thought, too.

      “Must be nice.”

      “It is! I just love getting all my work done on time.”

      1. Jazzy Red

        I’ve had people comment on those of us who leave on time, too. I always wanted to say something along the lines of “well, people who are efficient get their work done and can leave on time”. But, of course, I never did. (If I could go back in time, I absolutely would!)

  2. Retail Lifer

    This would drive me crazy, and after laughing it off a few times, I would be really tempted to say, “Yeah, when you work efficiently you get to leave on time. You should really work on your time management skills.”

    I obviously wouldn’t recommend this.

    1. T3k

      Heh, I’d probably say the first sentence or something similar like “Yep, I finished all my work, see you tomorrow!”

      1. KH

        This is bound to backfire with a senior employee, who would perceive that as failure to volunteer for or take on additional responsibility.

    2. Spooky

      That was my first thought as well!

      “Must be nice!”
      “Would you like me to give you some pointers on how to manage your time appropriately so you can leave on time, too?”

    3. Florida

      I know that all of these responses are we’d WANT to say. Too often, though, it is what people actually say. Responding to snarky with a patronizing response never works.

      Retail Lifer, I know your comment is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, so I’m not criticizing you. I’m just pointing it out because I’ve seen people do exactly what you are recommending (I have to admit to doing a few times myself) and it never turns out well.

      1. Retail Lifer

        I’d like to think I wouldn’t say that, although the toxic environment I’m in now has made me come pretty close to saying similarly snarky things.

      2. Stranger than fiction

        The thing is, Op is a manager and Jane is not so she actually could say something to her about time management or whatever if she wanted to

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          OP is the office manager, which uses means the main admin for the office — often a combo receptionist/assistant. Usually doesn’t manage anyone else; “manager” in “office manager” refers to managing the administrative needs of the office (supplies, space, visitors, phones, etc.).

    4. GoatBoat

      I actually used this to my advantage once, but it was a slightly different situation.

      In my case a group of co-workers was loudly complaining about how many hours of OT they were working (even though this same group of co-workers also spend several hours a day chatting). Well during one of these loud brag/complain sessions one co-worker turned to me and said “GoatBoat wouldn’t know anything about that now would she.”

      All my co-workers stopped working and turned to me, even the ones who were not in the group that were complaining. I let the silence hang for a second before I turned around and said quite sincerely “I can’t believe you have to work so much overtime, I rarely have tasks I can not complete during the workday. What items are you struggling with? If you would like I can take some of your workload.” The co-work muttered something about not needing help and I have never been bothered about my schedule again.

    5. Elsajeni

      I used to have a coworker who did this at my retail job — it’s obnoxious behavior anywhere, but doing it in a shift-work environment adds an extra touch of ridiculousness — and I did eventually give her an innocent “Oh, I’m sure Jane wouldn’t mind putting you on the 5 a.m. shift, too! You should ask her!” It didn’t entirely shut her up, but she didn’t do it nearly as often after that.

  3. Bekx

    At my old job my office manager would make similar comments. “Must be nice to leave on time.” “Bah! Already out the door.” “You’re leaving??”.

    Honestly, it stemmed mostly from her being over worked. We were done at 6:30 but it was very rare for people to leave at 6:30 on the dot. Most people left at 7, but office manager was usually there until 8 most nights. The owner would come up to her at 6 and say that she has this major thing that needs to be done RIGHTNOW and she needs to do that, and finish all her other “high priority” items. Everything was high priority at that job. She would get screamed at if her work wasn’t done that night, so I understand why she would stay until it was finished.

    That being said, it was still not nice that she said that. We mostly all just ignored her. That was her way of venting about the job, and bringing it up to her wouldn’t have helped the situation.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      Yes, I’ve heard those types of comments in offices where there’s a real imbalance in workload between employees or departments. It can breed resentment.

      (I’ve also heard those comments when someone wants everyone to know they’re working extra hours, even when their job doesn’t actually require the extra time.)

      1. NicoleK

        Yup, totally. Especially when everyone is overworked yet one employee receives special treatment (working from home all the time, gets to hire additional help, seems to stop working once they hit 40 hours, and is not held to the same expectations, and etc).

    2. Chinook

      “The owner would come up to her at 6 and say that she has this major thing that needs to be done RIGHTNOW and she needs to do that, and finish all her other “high priority” items”

      Having worked for people like that (and it was sometimes client driven in accounting office) is why my current (independent contractor) clearly states that, if I am not given 24 hours notice about staying late, then they will be billed for the 60 km taxi ride home at the end of the day. I don’t know if it made the difference, but my current boss has no issue with telling me it is 4:15 and shouldn’t I be getting ready to leave for my buss (I leave at about 4:20 and have a 10 minute gap in case I get caught at the last minute). It is one of the many reasons I love her as a boss.

  4. Rat Racer

    I feel like I’ve seen several letters posted recently about employees trying to keep tabs on when their managers are at work, and employees keeping tabs on their colleagues’ hours. It makes me start to wonder if there’s some kind paranoia in American work culture right now. The media tell us that Americans are working longer and longer days and weeks and that we are reluctant to take vacations – is that making us resentful and suspicious when it appears that a colleague is *only* working the standard 40-hours?

    Yuck on all fronts.

    1. SL

      Agreed. I think it’s partly because a lot of companies don’t know of any way other than hours worked to measure their workers’ output. The person who comes in early and stays late (while wasting time on unproductive activities) is viewed as a high performer while the efficient employee who gets his work done on time is lazy.

      1. Rebecca Too

        I leave on time, on the dot at the end of my shift no matter what, unless my boss asks me to stay, and that’s only happened twice in 5 years. I have mad time management skills (I always receive an “exceptional” rating on my yearly review in that area), and I’m proud of the fact that I’m able to prioritize, work efficiently, and leave on time, in order to get the rest of my day handled. I love my job, and I love my home life. Can’t they peacefully co-exist? It really makes me mad that they ones who come in early and stay late get the “attention” of the boss. It’s annoying!!

        1. Anna

          Same, but it’s mostly because I don’t like to stay and, luckily for me, the company I work for LOATHES overtime. We’re a contract so there’s very little in the budget for things like OT. When you get it, you had better have a darn good reason. I get it once a year when I make my yearly trek to DC.

    2. BananaPants

      I was told off-the-record by my manager that it is not considered “career-enhancing” to work an average of 40-45 hours a week, and that leaving right at 4:30 gives me a reputation as a clock watcher (we’re all salaried) or not fully dedicated to the job. I strongly suspect that at the time this was at least partially related to my parenting status but could never prove it.

      In many corporate environments in the U.S. there’s a perception that those who work longest are more dedicated, higher performing employees; face time is still more important than actual contribution. It’s wrong – usually people who put in long hours are the ones wasting the most time during the work day. At least around here, the guy who spends 50 hours a week at his desk is spending half of his day playing fantasy baseball.

      1. Sans

        I was told recently that the way to get a higher than average review was to put in extra time. Doesn’t seem to matter if you put in 40 hours of excellent work. Nope, you’re just average until you put in extra time.

        At one point, I was thinking of staying at this job for the long term. I am rethinking that now.

        1. Bend & Snap

          That sucks. I used to work a job with a mandatory 55 hour work week, so I started my days at 6:30/7am and left around 6 at night. I got dinged in my review for “leaving early.” So really they just wanted you to give up your nights toiling in your chair instead of meeting the mandated hours in another way.

          Worst job I’ve ever had, obviously.

          1. Shortie

            Oh my, this reminds me of the time in FormerJob when I got in trouble for coming in “late” after getting home from a business trip at 4am (yes, they knew I did not get back until 4am). I guess I was supposed to just get ready and come in to the office with no sleep. This was a salaried office job, and there was no reason I needed to be there first thing in the morning…no meetings or deadlines that day.

      2. Artemesia

        This. There are overworked people and jobs that require long hours — heck my career required it but the tradeoff was great autonomy and flexibility to manage those hours.
        But many many people who are always at the office are inefficient, time wasters or people who really dn’t want to go home. How many briefcases make the round trip without being opened?

      3. Ad Astra

        There are also some positions (say, digital editor for a community newspaper) where face time is a slightly more accurate way to measure success, but those jobs also tend to be jobs where the work never really ends. I could monitor news content, schedule social media posts, and analyze web traffic for 24 hours straight if my body and my personal life allowed it. It can be really hard to shut it down and go home when you’re never really done, and that value on face time creates a lot of pressure.

      4. Rat Racer

        My old job wanted to maintain the illusion that they offered a culture with work life balance, so the managers were NOT inclined to pat you on head for working late. However, the department was so short staffed that it was impossible for anyone to complete her work (and do a decent job of it) without working 50-60 hours.

        I’m trying to think about which scenario I’d prefer: pretending to work long hours to to create the illusion of dedication to the job vs. hiding the fact that I was up until 2:00 am to finish a powerpoint because “if I were truly efficient” I would be able to sit in meetings for 9 hours a day while miraculously producing 9 hours worth of work.

      5. Rat Racer

        But here’s what I don’t get: if the fantasy baseball guy gets all the kudos for his devotion to his “work,” then why would he (or anyone else) care if Jane skips out of work at 4:30? If the bee who looks the busiest gets the honey, it should be Jane who is angry at the guy pretending to work around the clock, while her 8.5 hours of productivity are dismissed as “unimpressive.”

        1. Elsajeni

          I think a lot of the fantasy baseball guys have no idea that they’re the fantasy baseball guy — they think everyone else’s work/break ratios look about the same as theirs, and they’d be genuinely surprised if they added up the amount of time they spend on “just a couple minutes” breaks in a day. And they may not even get to see how much work Jane actually gets done — I certainly have no idea how many projects my office neighbor finishes in a day. So they end up thinking that they work about as hard as Jane does, and yet Jane’s always bailing out at 4:30 and they’re always stuck at work until 8:00… it must be because Jane’s shirking and they’re picking up her slack!

          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

            Until I did a time audit, I had no idea how inefficient I was being. My 5 minutes on Facebook was really 5+ 15 spent on other sites and quick email checks often lead to 10-20 minutes of online shopping.

      6. Stranger than fiction

        See in these situation there needs to be some sort of checks and balances. Aren’t there managers holding them accountable? Checking in periodically to see what they’re doing during the day? I know it’s kind of a perfect world scenario but I don’t get how people get away with slacking half their day away

        1. BananaPants

          We had a guy in our group who has spent most of the last 8 YEARS openly doing fantasy sports, online shopping, or – most notably – work for his other job. We’ve had four managers in that time and none have taken any real steps to hold him accountable; when deliverables aren’t done well they just give him fewer and fewer tasks. It’s like he’s rewarded for the lack of effort. Blessedly, he made an internal transfer around 6 months ago so at least he isn’t our problem anymore.

          In some organizations, this sort of laziness and lack of productivity is tolerated; people who do it will never get promotions or decent merit increases, but it’s very rare that they’re fired.

      7. OverTheMoon

        I can relate to this comment. I have left a job that was very much toxic, but one of the worst ways was colleagues keeping tabs and reporting perceived indiscretions. I would get into the office around 6:30 most mornings, everyone else arrived around 8. Whenever I left before 5, several people had a lot to say. Most days I worked over my 8 hour schedule due to needs, but still dealt with the snarky comments. It was embedded in the culture that if you were dedicated you worked over 40 hours per week.
        I ignored it for the most part because my manager knew the long hours I was putting in and actually talked me into only working 8 hours a day. She loathed over time and had the opposite view of a lot of ill informed managers, that if you work efficiently and well you should be able to complete your work in a 40 hour work week.
        In this instance no amount of efficiency was going to get all the work completed because we were understaffed and she realized that and encouraged me to let things fall because that was the only way upper management would see that we needed to hire additional employees. This was true and we eventually hired two more people with a regular budget for temporary workers for major projects.
        By far the best manager I had, however, one of the worst employers I have ever had.

    3. LSP

      Agreed.

      I know I posted recently about the opposite, being upset with coworkers complaining that they actually had to work closer to 20-30 hours instead of their usual 10-15, all while being paid for 40.

      I think hours is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the easiest thing to complain about or point fingers at. Sometimes I wish we could be more chill with hours/work and go with the flow (nature of the job permitting – I don’t want a surgeon to operate when she feels like it!).

    4. T3k

      Yeah, and as SL pointed out, it hurts those who actually work efficiently and can therefore leave on time (if not even earlier).

      I’m grateful that at *most* of the places I’ve worked at, they’ve seen I’m an efficient hard worker and so was actually allowed to leave early quite a few times because my work was done for the day, or give me small gifts as appreciation (like cookies).

    5. Jerzy

      I am consistently one of the first people in the office, second really only to one woman who has arranged a schedule that allows her to come in at 7:30 and leave at 4. I get in at 8:30 and leave at 5. Most others in the office are in from 9/9:30 until … whenever. I have no idea when they leave, because I’m not usually here.

      I have a toddler that needs to be picked up, brought home, fed dinner and put to bed within the 2 hours I leave work, so I leave on time every day, and am often one of the first out the door. I also get to work on time, not that most of my colleagues would know that, since they’re not here.

      If I absolutely must keep working past 5 p.m., I’ll generally pack everything up, and continue work while my son is eating dinner and/or after he’s in bed. I can have someone else pick him up if I must, but then risk losing the little time I have with him during the day, which is not worth it, as far as I’m concerned. No one has ever given me a hard time, and I wouldn’t care if they did. There are more important things in my life than making sure my coworkers are ok with my schedule.

      1. Michelle

        This is really close to my schedule as well, However, my counterpart apparently thinks she’s a manager (she most definitely is NOT), so she strolls in at 9, 9:30, 10 (same time as salaried staff) and takes an hour for lunch. I leave on Friday at 4:30-5, depending on if I have a little extra time, and she’s complaining about having to stay late. Well, if she’s come in on time and take a 1/2 for lunch like I do*, she could leave on time.

        *I do occasionally go out for lunch and take an hour, but I make that up by coming in a little early each day. She only comes in early if her Mom needs to use her car.

    6. Elizabeth West

      Agree with the yuck. I’ve usually been hourly and don’t often get overtime, so I’ve left on time at most jobs.

      At Newjob, there are so many people with so many different schedules (and some have to do tasks on evenings or weekends) that it’s not unusual to see them coming and going all the time throughout the day. They’re either leaving early to log in at home or because they have to come in on the weekend. Plus we get fairly good PTO, which is nice.

    7. Ad Astra

      It’s always bothered me that exempt employees are, in practice, expected to work a minimum of 40 hours rather than an average of 40 hours. For all the 45- and 50-hour weeks I’ve put it, not once have I been able to work a 35-hour week and still get paid my normal salary. And of course the manager who said “Nobody in this office is a clock watcher; just get your work done” was the manager who gave me the most grief about not being available every minute of every day.

      1. GoatBoat

        Yes!!!!!

        This is a huge pet peeve of mine. In order to leave an hour early on Friday, you need to have worked at least 5 hours of overtime the day before.

    8. Dynamic Beige

      Someone posted this article (link below) on Facebook this weekend. One of the most interesting things was in comments where someone wrote:

      David Ogilvy was correct (and not in the least bit ironic) when he wrote something about a fellow who worked for him who, every day at 5 o’clock, would stand, put on his coat and hat and go home. To wit Ogilvy parsed – “Imagine the discipline that must take.”

      So you could riff on that with a “Yes, Jane, I try very hard to be as disciplined as I can during the day so I can get everything done and leave on time. Thank you for noticing!” <– must be said with absolute sincerity!

    9. Biff

      The only time I was tracking a coworkers time at desk was when he was regularly showing up hours late, taking hours of lunch and sometimes not even appearing in the afternoon. Our manager was out-of-office, and several us were wondering if something should be said. We decided it was above our paygrade, in the end.

    10. jules

      Agreed. It’s like we’r in a sort of race to the bottom to see who can get the worst time management and worst work/life balance. I don’t get it. It makes no one happy, it doesn’t actually increase productivity, it’s a no-win situation, and yet, so many people keep doing it.

  5. The IT Manager

    I might go with:
    “Yes, it’s quitting time.”
    “Yes, I put in my 8 hours.”
    “Yes, those 8 hours flew by.”

    Or for “it’s barely afternoon,” you disagree “No, it’s quitting time.”

    This is annoying and weird. I do wonder if she’s jealous that you can leave on time, but more likely she’s one of those people that attempts to prove her value by working long hours so by commenting on your departure she draws attention to her longer hours.

    It’s worth your effort and the discomfort of a awkward conversation to shut her down because these comments undermine you and could become the “truth” about you.

    1. TootsNYC

      more likely she’s one of those people that attempts to prove her value by working long hours so by commenting on your departure she draws attention to her longer hours.

      I agree this has a high probability of being true.

    2. Sans

      I wouldn’t mention “my 8 hours” because then you have some who call you a clockwatcher, or infer that you aren’t necessarily finishing your work, you’re just abruptly going home at 4 even if you need to finish something up. And you’re not doing that. But I do like the response “no, it’s quitting time” to “it’s barely afternoon”!

        1. PontoonPirate

          I understand it’s the reality of the American workforce, by and large, but I’m going to put it out there that I don’t think “clockwatcher” should be a pejorative term. I’m salaried and exempt and I still make it a point to leave after 8 hours every day (special projects, etc., notwithstanding). Why is that bad? My company isn’t paying me any more to work more, and the work will always–always–be there. Yes, when it gets to the end of the day, I watch that clock. I’m working to earn every minute of my free time, and I’m not going to give any of it to my company for free. I don’t disrespect my bosses; I hope my bosses don’t disrespect me. But it’s a business arrangement.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I think it depends on the details. If you’re exempt, I’m going to be fine with you doing personal stuff during the work day — checking gmail, reading the news, doing some banking, whatever. But in return, I expect you not to be rigid about leaving exactly at 5 p.m. every day, when there are presumably cases where an extra 15 minutes would let you finish that project and send it off to the person who needs to review it or whatever.

            1. PontoonPirate

              On reflection, and with more coffee, that makes sense. As I think back, I do realize I spend a lot of evenings checking email, for example, or making a quick fix to something, but because I’m in the comfort of my home I don’t really think of it as “working.” So I can’t really say I don’t give away my free time, can I? But your point about trade-offs is pretty on-target.
              Yet I can’t shake the feeling that we shouldn’t assume bad intent when people are out the door right on time. In my case, my coworkers don’t know I may be logging in at home, but I don’t want their bad assumptions about me just because they see me leaving after 8 hours. I hate having to stifle this automatic defensiveness that arises within me when I leave before everyone else (I also arrive before everyone else).

            2. Jerzy

              If I need to finish something, I’ll stay late or take work home, but more often than not, it’s 4:30 and I don’t have too much to do. I don’t leave early unless I have a reason, but you bet when that clock strikes 5, I’m going to head out.

            3. KH

              My department had a long discussion about this when there was a recent mandatory furlough of contracted workers (including me) to allow the huge company to meet its Wall Street numbers. We all agreed that we would work the 40 hour week, maybe a little more to show good faith and be supportive to our co workers. But we would not work dozens of extra hours for free each week. That would just reward management, which would just assign more work until we couldn’t take any more. Fortunately this position was not uncommon in the organization, and so it still works like this today.

          2. Some New Guy

            As a manager, I do consider clock-watching a negative trait in my staff. I have no problem if you come in a few minutes late, or if lunch stretches slightly over as long as the work gets done. I also have no problem with keeping work-life balance or leaving after eight hours.

            In fact, I often look up at 5:03 and tell my staff to go home if they are still working. The difference is, if you are keys in hand and out the door at 5:00 every day, then realistically you are not being productive at 4:55. Some days you may wrap up at 4:50 and leave early or kill time until it’s time to go, but some days you will be in the middle of something and finish up at 5:05 or 5:10.

            Effective time management is great, but so efficient you never go a minute over or waste time? Hard to believe.

            1. TootsNYC

              Well, I don’t think people need to be that productive at 4:55–I think that’s when they -should- be doing “wind-down” things, like straightening their desk from the day’s activities, etc.

              That’s work too.

          3. TootsNYC

            I actually have a subordinate who is really good at getting out of the office on time when it’s not crucial to stay later. I’ve told him that I really value this in him–that I also know he will absolutely stay a little later if he’s in the middle of something, or that he’ll volunteer to come in on a holiday or weekend day if there’s something that *MUST* happen then.

            Once my boss said to me, at review time, that she thought he wasn’t that dedicated. I think because she sees him consistently leave on time. Boy did I correct that impression! And when I got a new boss, I made sure to mention to her that I took note of when he left, and when he didn’t, and that I was certain he was a dedicated employee who would go the extra mile **when it was needed.**

            Seriously, he provides a counterpressure that is valuable.

            1. sstabeler

              Yeah, that’s a case when it looks like what most people would call clockwatching but it isn’t. Clockwatching would be if the employee stopped work at the exact end of the day no matter what.

    3. Jerzy

      I worked with someone who almost daily bragged about staying at the office until 9, 10, 11 o’clock.

      But she wouldn’t get into the office until after 10 or 11 a.m. most days, and spent a great deal of time complaining about certain coworkers or just generally walking around and “looking busy.”

      While she was still usually putting in more than 8 hours a day, and always got her work done, I think people who used their time more efficiently could have completed the same amount of work in close to 40 hours a week.

      Bad time management =/= harder worker

      1. J-nonymous

        I had a manager like this, and she was a total pill to work for. She claimed to work non-stop but she *never* completed anything you needed from her on time because she was “so busy.” She made derogatory remarks about any employee who managed their work schedule tightly (which ended up targeting parents of younger children the most) despite the fact that those people frequently put in hours outside of work to complete their assignments on-time. We were all exempt employees, but she demanded we post our in-office schedules on our cubicle walls. Her stated reason was so that passers/droppers by would know if we were due in at a particular time, but her real reason was to tally up incidents when you weren’t in by your arrival time, or if you were away too long from your desk.

        Needless to say, she was not a successful manager.

    4. LQ

      This would be good if you were hourly (though I’d say something more like yeah _big boss_ gets crabby when I put in more than 8 hours/need overtime if that’s true, especially across the org) but if you are salaried this isn’t so good. Something closer to work is done etc would be good.

  6. AMG

    I think this ties in nicely with the overly talkative coworker post from earlier. Put your earbuds in on your way out the door or at least pretend to be on the phone. If she says something, take one earbud out and ask her to repeat herself, then you can take one of the 2 approaches above.

    You could also ask her if she needs something every time she makes a comment. By making her repeat, ‘no, I don’t actually need anything’ every time she has a snide comment, she may get tired of saying it herself.

  7. TootsNYC

    Tone of voice might be a great tool for you.

    Say, with a slight tone of surprise, “Yes, it’s 10 minutes past quitting time!”
    Or, maybe a patient, “explain-y” tone, “Yes, it’s quitting time, the workday is done.”
    Or even better, “Yes, aren’t you leaving yet?” as if you’re surprised she’s still there.

    And then just go. Don’t wait for any answer to any of those comments.

    My only concern is whether Jane’s comments are going to affect other people’s perception of you. That’s why I would vote for always answering her. And perhaps for mentioning this to your boss.Not sure I have a script ready for this, except perhaps maybe, “I wanted to alert you to something; Jane makes comments frequently when I leave. I know she stays really late, but it seems that she expects me to do so also. As you know, I’m not the person who skates out early, and I’ll hang a little bit if there’s something important to get done–I did that on Tuesday, and last week as well. I just don’t want Jane’s comments to affect other people’s perceptions of me. I don’t want them to start believing that I’m a slacker, just because I wrap up my workday at quitting time. I’m not sure if I want you to -do- anything about it, I guess I’m just making you aware.”
    Bring it out into the open like that–there’s nothing dishonorable about it, so have it be open and honest between you and your boss.

    And I bet you’d have some luck with repeating the exact same phrase every single time. It’ll become clearer to everyone around (and maybe to Jane herself) that Jane is repeating herself, if *you* repeat yourself with your reply.

    1. Karowen

      I’d probably say something like “Yeah, I’ve been here 8 hours – Time to hit the road!” Like you said, my concern would be with the other coworkers possibly getting a negative impression of me, not with the Janes of the world.

      1. sstabeler

        I’d go with something more like “I’ve finished my work for today” to be honest, since otherwise it does sound a bit like you are watching the clock.

  8. Business Cat

    Ugh. I’m an office manager at a company where most of my coworkers are outside in the field all day, and one of them in particular likes to make comments like “Gee I wish I could be sitting at a desk all day,” or “Oh, time to go? I guess you have to make up for coming in late by leaving early!” My employer is pretty flexible with my start and ending times because we don’t have a lot of foot traffic in the office, so I arrive in the office between 8:30 and 9:00 and generally leave somewhere in between 4:30 and 5:00 depending on how much work I have for the day or whether I need to run errands. This coworker and I have a pretty good rapport otherwise and I KNOW he is just good-naturedly pulling my leg but it really irks me when he makes those comments because I already feel awkward about the significantly slower pace of my workday compared to theirs, or even compared to positions I’ve held in the past (retail to office work is a wild, weird shift in gears).

  9. neverjaunty

    OP, AAM’s first suggestion is really stellar – because it makes you look good (here you are trying to make sure that you’re not causing problems for your team!), sincere (you’re asking Jane if there is a problem, rather than being snarky or ignoring her) and, bluntly, is a win-win for you. If there were an actual problem, like needing your help with getting work done, Jane will look foolish because she never came out and told you, instead opting for passive-aggressive snark. If there is no actual problem beyond Jane being jealous, then she’s going to look really petty and stupid for being mad that you leave on time when it doesn’t affect her at all.

    Regardless, don’t change the time you leave because of Jane’s remarks. That gives her power to dictate YOUR FREE TIME because she has her tail in a knot.

  10. Mike C.

    At what point are you allowed tell the office Jane to buzz off, quit being such a creep, that it’s none of her business and so on? It’s obviously not her place to comment on stuff like this and if she needed something she could just ask for it like a normal adult.

    Why is there a preference for taking a circuitous route instead of addressing the behavior directly?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          If she ends up looking like she can’t handle conflict diplomatically and preserve relationships in an office that values them, that’s not winning.

          1. neverjaunty

            Exactly. And that’s the answer to your question – the diplomatic approach AAM suggests (which you call ‘circuitous’) is simply more effective, in that it not only gets the result of shutting down Jane, but has the side benefit of avoiding other problems for the OP. There’s really no reason to reach for ‘buzz off’ first here other than the warm fuzzy internal feeling of having told somebody off.

    1. Swarley

      Yeah, I agree here. I would think that calling out Jane if she pesters you after you’ve exhausted option #1 would be totally appropriate. I’d be more than happy to ask why she feels the need to comment on my leaving when we’ve established that it doesn’t impact her ability to do her own job.

        1. Swarley

          That’s fair. My hope is that a direct (with a polite, inquisitive tone) question asking about the behavior would get it to stop.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Why take an aggressive approach when there are other options that are likely to get you a good outcome, especially when the OP said that getting along with coworkers is very important there?

      1. Mike C.

        I’m not sure how saying something like, “please mind your own business” or “please stop tracking my time here, it’s really creepy” is overly aggressive. It’s direct, certainly, but what Jane is doing is really creepy, it’s really unprofessional and why shouldn’t it be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand?

        1. TootsNYC

          Because when you attack people (and that’s what this will look and feel like), they get defensive and they dig in.

          1. Mike C.

            Why is this considered an attack but not the constant stream of commentary and tracking? I mean look, we’re adults here, why not be direct?

            I’m honestly not trying to be contrarian here, I’m really just trying to understand why this sort of thing can’t be handled in a direct manner.

            1. neverjaunty

              AAM’s suggestion IS handling it in a direct manner. It’s not as aggressive as you apparently prefer, but it is direct. Why does that bother you?

            2. LQ

              You’re making an assumption that isn’t warranted by the evidence. If the other person was someone who was pro-direct and straightforward no-nonsense communication they wouldn’t be saying passive aggressive things like “Must be nice…”.

              The actual data that we have shows that this person is not direct. We also know that this office places a very high value on relationships. Adding these things together and a STFU approach just doesn’t work.

            3. Stranger than fiction

              Totally, Jane is being aggressive too. But sadly I probably wouldn’t have the guts to be that blunt.

          1. Mike C.

            Ok, i wasn’t being clear here, I’m not literally saying “Buzz off”, I’m meaning something along the lines of “My hours are none of your concern, please stop tracking them”, as opposed to “Was there something you needed”.

            My way addresses the behavior directly, your advice doesn’t. I’m trying to understand why in this sort of situation it’s not ok to address the behavior directly.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Ah, I see. I still wouldn’t start there. She has a good chance of getting this taken care of with a softer approach, and in an office that puts a high value on relationships, it just doesn’t make sense not to try that approach first.

            2. TootsNYC

              “Was there something you needed?” is a form of “why are you sticking your nose in here?”

      1. Mike C.

        The difference is that I want to address the behavior directly. I want to be clear that I’m not talking about yelling at someone or anything like that, but I am talking about being very clear and very direct that the behavior needs to stop and it needs to stop right now.

        1. Kyrielle

          Doing that can be taken as rude by relationship-focused people, though. Especially if it’s the first place you jump to. “My hours are none of your concern” which you quote above would be seen as _really_ rude and shirty in many offices.

          Agreed that it may have to go there, but if you start there, you’ve burned the bridge before you found out if you had to.

          (I suspect this is a task-focused vs. relationship-focused style thing….)

        2. TootsNYC

          But saying, “You comment about my leaving nearly every day. Is there something you need from me at this time of the day?” *is* addressing the behavior very directly.

          1. LBK

            Agreed. I don’t see how that’s circuitous and moreover, I don’t see what you stand to gain by being blunt to Jane’s face about how annoying she is. Watch any episode of a reality TV show and you’ll see that busybodies with warped ideals never respond to being called on their behavior by changing their ways – they respond by escalating.

            I’m genuinely curious what you think her response would be to your proposed method – “I’m so sorry, I’ll stop doing that”? Nah, I’d bet she would run to a manager or HR and say you snapped at her AND you’ve been leaving early AND whatever other complaints she can pull out of her ass to make her look like the victim and you look like the bad guy, and her manager is probably going to indulge her because the manager obviously hasn’t noticed or cut off her annoying tendencies yet, and then the OP is going to get dragged into pointless mediation and told to start leaving later just to meet Jane’s crazy standards that no one else cares about.

            Why put yourself through all of that when you could take the high road, give a professional response and probably end up with a wildly better result? Where’s the merit in doing anything else, other than a brief moment of satisfaction that will be cancelled out by potentially weeks or even months of fallout?

    3. Florida

      I’m with you, Mike. I’m all for addressing the behavior – not in an aggressive, who-do-you-think-you-are, manner. But in a matter of fact, I-hope-this-isn’t-affecting-your-work, manner. I think tone in which you address it is very important, but Alison has suggested the perfect script.

      1. Florida

        Just to clarify my comment. I agree with Mike about taking the direct approach. I disagree with Mike about telling her buzz off, and mind her own business. I think you can be direct without being a jerk.

        1. Mike C.

          Ok, I didn’t mean to literally say, “Buzz off”, more along the lines of “My hours aren’t any of your business, please stop commenting on them”.

          1. Florida

            It’s more the buzz-off attitude that I’m referring to. If you say, “My hours are none of your business…” there are ways to say that that sound professional and ways to say it that sound more like buzz off. So I was referring more to the tone/attitude behind it than the actually words.

  11. T

    I think it depends on the culture there. I’ve had jobs where everyone was expected to slave away into the evening and people who left at 5 were openly looked down upon. At my current job, everyone leaves at 5 on the dot (barring problems) and it’s awesome. If the boss walks by your desk at 5 and you’re clearly still working, he will ask if there’s a problem. Either way, as long as my manager is happy with me and Jane isn’t my superior, I personally wouldn’t pay it any mind.

  12. PC

    I am of the opinion that as long as your supervisor is OK with this, you’re fine.

    It’s so silly for a coworker to say such comments. Shut that down, it’s an unnecessary stressor.

    Good luck! I’ll be curious to see what goes down. Send us an update!

  13. DK

    Hi All,

    OP here! Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtful responses. I really like the idea of approaching Jane with tact, and asking if she needs something. Hopefully that will flip a switch within her- I will try it today when I leave and see how it works! :)

    Thank you, AAM community!

    1. Artemesia

      Let us know how it works. I have a tendency to either avoid or get too aggressive. I think these tactful suggestions are just appropriately assertive. Hope it works. But it will be interesting to hear how it goes.

  14. TootsNYC

    Oh, and if Jane comes up with things she needs you to do, be prepared–check with her 30 minutes before you leave; talk w/ your boss about how to tell whether something can be done in the morning….

    And have “up your sleeve” the “weapon” of saying, “Well, I’m in at 8:30, and generally no one else needs anything right away–that’s a great time for me to do those [menial make-work] tasks for you.”

  15. Jubilance

    Ugh, I find this type of behavior rude and disrespectful, and I’m not the type to let people disrespect me. I would say something to Jane, and tell her to mind her own business. Ignoring her is just giving silent consent to her behavior. Tell her to knock it off and keep doing it until she does.

    1. Artemesia

      as perhaps ‘Yes it is nice — that is why I focus on my work to get it done efficiently so I don’t have to hang around all hours’

  16. Argh!

    I work a later schedule than some of my colleagues and some of them shoot me a dirty look as if I’m coming in late. I just ignore them. I have to watch them walk out 90 minutes before I get to leave, and I take the high ground by ignoring them then, too…. well, most of them.

  17. Chelsea

    Barring extreme circumstances, I am usually in at 8 and out at 5 each day. I know some people who stay in the office until 6 or 7 and they will sometimes glare at me as I leave or make similar remarks.

    But what they don’t see is the work I do outside of the office. They don’t realize that I got a call from a C-level exec at 5:30 on Friday asking me to draft something important over the weekend. They don’t understand that when I’m traveling for work I’m not eating steak dinners and sipping champagne with clients, I’m in a windowless conference room for 8-10 hours and then am still working from my hotel room after the fact.

    They can continue coming in at 9:45 and taking 90 minute lunches, I honestly don’t care how they spend their time. But being presumptuous is annoying.

  18. Betty (the other Betty)

    If it’s true, a cheerful, “Yes, I finished up everything on my to do list for the day.” or “Yes, everything is organized so I’m ready to start x-project tomorrow.” gets the point across that a. you are leaving and b. you are not slacking off.

  19. Kathlynn

    Wouldn’t there be an option 3? going to the manager and saying something like “Someone in the office keeps commenting on the time I leave. I just wanted to make sure everything’s okay on your end” (basically giving the boss a heads up, and a chance to say something, and the boss could tell the OP to just ignore it, or give a culturally apts reply.).
    When I told my boss about a newer coworker criticizing my work, she told me to tell the coworker that if they had an issue with my work, or how I was doing it, to talk to her. She also said that she didn’t have an issue with it. When I did this, the coworker stopped putting me down. A year and a bit later, another coworker started complaining at me, and due to the issue, I told them the same thing, with the same result.
    That said, I do pay attention to what my coworkers tell me I’m doing wrong. But usually it’s them trying to mess with my head, a difference in priorities, or a difference in the way we do things. And since the coworker doesn’t say how long they’ve been at their current location, what worked for me might not be applicable, even if it might work for others in the office. (if it’s been more then a year though, and your boss has no problems with your hours, ask if he minds you using it, or just use it if you feel comfortable doing so)

    1. Amandine

      Why ask your manager, though? To get them to lend you authority? You don’t need that. I’d presume the manager would have let the OP know if they had an issue with their hours. It’s always better to be direct with people.

      And a good manager is probably just going to ask what you’ve done to address the problem with the other employee anyway. The answer really shouldn’t be “nothing, I came to you”.

      1. Kathlynn

        I’m not sure which question. Asking about hours, to open up a conversation about it. And if you don’t name the other employee, you aren’t complaining about them, you are checking policy/cultural expectations. I know two of the managers I’ve worked with have sat on things I do that annoy them with out mentioning it to me. (When I found out about one of the issues I might have immediately said “why didn’t you just say something. I didn’t know I was supposed to do it that way” It was a really small thing, done daily. And yeah, after that I did it the way she wanted it done.) And hasn’t it come up frequently here that bosses will keep quite about overtime expectations, until they suddenly go “you want promoted, work more overtime” (my wording and summary of comments I’ve read).

        And the answer to your question would be “I’ve mostly not responded, since I didn’t think my hours were an issue. I thought that, after a while, the coworker would stop making these comments but they haven’t. I wanted to ensure I wasn’t mistaken about [over time culture at company], before I [changed my game/strategy]”

        As for asking about sending them to the manager. The manager might not want you to send them, they might see it as an inappropriate response. Managers are people. And people can have all types of conflicting thoughts. But, as far as I know, telling my coworkers to take it to the manager didn’t lend me the manager’s authority, it just told them I felt I was in the right and got them to back off. As far as I know neither person when to my manager.
        As to why I went to my manager. Depending on the situation, telling people what/how to do things is stepping on her toes (her phrase). I had already tried to explain the issue to them (like “hey boss, coworker JK is complaining because I kneel on the stool to wash dishes*. He doesn’t accept my explanation. Bosses response, “when he does that, tell him to come talk to me”)
        I’ve had a hard time focusing while washing dishes at work. Kneeling diverted enough attention to keeping balanced that I can focus on washing dishes, rather then comments to say to my coworkers. It also rests my feet, since I also have feet-pain issues.

        1. F.

          I do think this is the most reasonable way to deal with the receptionist. Once you have ascertained that your manager is fine with your work schedule, then just ignore the receptionist. A simple, pleasant, “Have a nice evening” as you leave for the day is all the response that is needed.

  20. The IT Manager

    Relevant to the question if you should leave at the end of your work day if your work is done. ( I listened to this on Saturday and thought to save it until next Friday’s thread, but it fits here). Planet Money Episode 647: Hard Work Is Irrelevant

    Key points: Working hard in and of itself is not virtue. Because Netflix is not a family; it’s a team. And not kid’s team that hand out participation trophies; it’s a pro sports team meaning people can and will be cut. So if you’re a hard worker but you’re not contributing, you can and will be fired. Is this the future of work?

    http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2015/08/28/435583328/episode-647-hard-work-is-irrelevant

    1. Anonymous Educator

      The illustration they began with (the locksmith taking less time) is great, but it’s actually not the same as saying “You’re expendable. Bye!” to people who have devoted themselves to the organization and actually worked smarter (not harder) and given the output.

      1. TootsNYC

        And to people who have done the job that *YOU* defined. Most of the people who work at Netflix are not writing their own job descriptions.

        Now, of course a company will say, “This task is not actually one we need anymore, so we’re eliminating that job. Sorry and all that–wish you well.” But it doesn’t come with the whiff of condemnation that “you’re not contributing to the bottom line, so we’re cutting you” does.

  21. J-nonymous

    Alison’s suggestion #1 is really good, and it isn’t confrontational at all. It’s annoying as hell to feel like your time is being monitored by someone, and it’s worse when that person doesn’t manage you and hasn’t given any clear reason for being concerned about your productivity.

    I agree with most others that Jane is probably frustrated at her own workload and has chosen a passive-aggressive way to vent that. My only other question for you is: if it is the case that Jane has more work than is reasonable for her to complete in a work week, do you as office manager have any capacity to implement / advocate for changes to help her (and possibly others) out?

    If so, that could go a very long way in converting a passive/aggressive complainer into someone who will be a staunch ally of yours. Even if it’s not the case, addressing the issue from the standpoint of trying to gain clarity and improve the situation *for her* leaves you on much surer footing than politely laughing off the comments.

  22. NJ anon

    I have a long commute and if I don’t leave at 5, it’s even worse. One of our interns made a comment about my leaving at 5 on the dot. I just smiled, said “yup,” asked her what time she got in (much later than I did) and asked her how much work she did from home. The light bulb went off and she never made another comment.

    1. Lefty

      I was thinking along similar lines regarding commutes! A few of us, including myself, depend on public transportation to get from home to the office. A few minutes for a driver could already mean a huge change in traffic; a few minutes for those of us on the train can mean waiting nearly 2 more hours to catch the next one… While I don’t think commutes should always be a focus of management, I think a good manager will realize that a few minutes can make such a difference in their staff being able to be at home/at school pickup/able to cook for the family/ able to catch a few minutes of a childs’ sport/letting out the dog.

  23. Vito

    How about telling her ether…
    “I have a life, Gee it must suck not to have one”

    -or-

    “I finished my to-do list and now my day is done …good night”

  24. Anonymous Educator

    I may be in the minority opinion, but since “Jane” is in another department, Jane is not the OP’s boss, and the OP’s actual boss seems fine with OP’s behavior (even in praise of it), I would just completely ignore Jane when she says stuff like that. Not look at her, not laugh awkwardly—just ignore her.

    I would pay attention to her and acknowledge her if she said something worthwhile related to work or even wanted to chat about something not work related that was interesting and then just ignore these snide remarks.

    Yes, it’s a bit passive-aggressive, but I don’t think this warrants a confrontation. If Jane is making these kinds of remarks, she is not operating in good faith, so saying “Oh, did you need something from me?” is either going to make her think you’re being more passive-aggressive than is warranted or open the door to her deliberately making up stuff for you to do just to keep you late.

    1. JessaB

      The problem with ignoring her, is that other people overhear it, take it in and develop an unreasonable opinion of the OP.

  25. Amber Rose

    You guys are so good at snappy comebacks. I get a kick out of reading the replies you come up with. :D

    If I remember, I’ll ask about it on Friday. I’m awful at comebacks and my coworkers are a snarky bunch. Maybe you guys can help.

    1. Kristine

      Mad Magazine (read it until I was 17!) used to have a series called “Snappy Comebacks to Stupid Questions.” Maybe we need a workplace version for stupid and unprofessional comments.

      1. Amber Rose

        Or just lame ones. My coworkers are not trying to be mean, they’re just the type to give everyone a hard time.

        I’m the type to get along with almost anyone. So I like them and don’t mind it. But I’m not good at responses.

        1. neverjaunty

          Playing dumb usually works well, because they they have to explain why the remark was clever or what they were so-subtly trying to imply, and that takes all the fun out of it.

  26. Kristine

    I cluelessly said, in a similar situation and when I was much younger, to the offender: “Oh! Are you buried in work? Is there something you would like me to help you with?”
    I did not mean to imply that she could not handle her job, but that was the impression she was giving me – everyone else just thought she was a bitch. ;-)
    She pressed her lips together and stopped remarking upon my hours – she just started making snide comments about my clothes/figure. (People came up to me and told me, to my shock, “Great comeback!” I had not meant it that way.)
    I was (and still am) thin as a rail and dress professionally, and that’s when I started ignoring her. Meh. She walked off the job eventually – just left in the middle of the day!

  27. Almond

    I so needed this post today! I was dealing with a very similar situation last week — except instead of a coworker making these remarks, it was my boss. I work at a tiny nonprofit with only 2 employees in addition to the Executive Director.

    1. Artemesia

      That is a lot worse situation since when it is your boss you quite rightly feel threatened or at least it provokes a continuing anxiety.

  28. Dee

    I had this happen when i started doing a graduate degree part-time. I worked it out so i’d do less hours and be able to take a late lunch break (some classes were first thing, others were mid-afternoon). The set- up was okay, but i had two co-workers who made remarks like this particularly how they’d “never know when i was at my desk” or not and “how it must be nice to go out in the middle of the day”. It was so silly but it made me feel like a slacker and i started staying later and getting in earlier on the days i could. It made no difference to the work per se but i felt…i had to do it? I even made a schedule for them that they could have on their desk in order to stop some of the remarks but of course they never remembered to look at it. I never solved this issue i just ignored but it did eat away at me, hopefully OP it will slide of you in time.

    1. TootsNYC

      See, that’s essentially bullying. Perhaps not the most aggressive, but it really was about messing with you.

      1. Dee

        I didn’t see it as bullying at the time – but the boss of that team was a bully and i definitely saw flow on effects around the team. The boss would bully one team member – then that team member would bully someone lower. It’s weird how you can see things in hindsight.

  29. Sunny

    This is why I love this blog. It always sounds so simple; say something to someone being passive aggressive, but it can seem really difficult when you are living it.

  30. Cassie

    My mom works from 7am to 3:30pm while most of her office works later hours – they are allowed to choose their start/end times although many of the employees show up later than their official start times. When anyone makes a comment of her leaving at 3:30 like “you’re going home already?!”, she simply says “I start at 7am” and continues on her way. I told her she didn’t need to respond or she could just say “yes” without explaining.

    As long as the boss is okay with whatever schedule you have, I would just ignore the comments. I leave earlier than standard because I work from home in the evenings. Some of my coworkers start work later and stay late into the night. Once in a while we’ll get a snide comment from one of the coworkers who can’t flex their time but we understand that it’s mostly out of frustration that they can’t flex their time.

  31. Ella

    Sigh. When will people ever MYOB about their coworkers schedules? I am salaried and get looks from the hourly employees if I leave early/come in late. I want to say “You didn’t stay up til midnight finishing that report” or “you didn’t spend your Sunday finishing that project”, but I don’t. It’s not my job to be at my desk 9-5 like others. It’s my job to get the work done when it needs to be done. Unless it’s affecting your work, just mind your own business!

    1. Lanya

      I was wondering this myself. Why do people even care about this stuff if it doesn’t directly affect them? And why do these people exist who feel the need to work very late every day, and then complain about all of the extra hours or comment about other people who leave on time? It’s a weird thing, but apparently not that uncommon.

    2. Kyrielle

      Yes, this. The gentleman who works across the hall from me sometimes arrives in the office when I’ve been here six hours already. Does this mean he’s bad? No, it means I am rocking an early-in, early-out schedule, and he is doing the opposite. I’ve seen him commit changes at 9 pm; I know he pulled an all-nighter recently, which is more than I’ve done (or intend to). But we’re both getting our work done, and living our lives, and present for the meetings we need to be. Beyond that, who cares? I suppose I could go “gosh, he’s always showing up so late” or he could say “gee, Kyrielle walks out the door so early, what is she thinking?”

      Instead, we talk about getting our work done, and if one of us needs something from the other, we work it out in the overlap to our schedules or via email. And no one snarks about it. Thank goodness.

  32. Tara

    I think in case Alison’s suggestions don’t work, it might be worth it to have a heart-to-heart with Jane. At some point during your day (not after she makes the snarky comment, but some time earlier than that), simply say “I’ve noticed you making remarks about what time I leave every day. I understand if you feel frustrated at having to work late so often, but that’s not my fault. I do my work and leave when it is done, so its not right for you to make me feel guilty about that.”

  33. Wren

    My boss’s wife had a run of remarking at my leaving “early” when to my mind, I was leaving on time clocking out at 5:30. I mostly ignored her, or dispassionately stated, “Actually, it’s past 5:30,” but it made me cut the frequency at which I worked after 5:30 so as not get her used to seeing me after later. One way or another she’s stopped: either I’ve retrained her expectations, or my boss got her to stop saying it. I also see it as ironic that her remarks totally backfired if her intent was to browbeat me into working longer hours.

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