how many hours are you expected to work?

A reader writes:

 I’m asking this question semi for my husband, but more as a general inquiry. I’m curious about how many hours salaried employees are reasonably expected to work, and when those hours are. (I’ve always been an hourly employee.)

My husband, “Cory,” is salaried and works for a manufacturing company. He has fairly flexible hours and can take time off last minute if need be. In return, he often works late, goes in early, works from home/is available for phone calls with clients in the evenings – he basically does whatever he needs to do to get the job done.

But sometimes he stays later than I think is normal or will work odd hours — for example, recently, there was a miscommunication with a delivery driver who was running late. Cory came home, went back to work for an hour or so to meet the guy and he didn’t show up. Cory came back home, went back to work for another hour or so again waiting around, and again came home. The delivery driver ended up calling at 9:45ish saying he was there and Cory at that point decided he wasn’t going back in.

He wasn’t penalized or anything for not going back the last time. And we happen to live five minutes from his work so it wasn’t horrible, but what if he didn’t? Would an employee be expected to go back and forth like that, or just stay at work until 9:45 at night?

On a related note, his boss sometimes comes in later in the day. Cory will go in around 8, his boss might not come in until well into the afternoon, and then Cory feels he can’t leave when they’re in the middle of something together so he’ll stay past 6 when he was really planning on leaving at 5.

I understand that salaried employees are basically trusted to manage their own time as long as they get the job done. But does that mean possibly working until close to 10 at night? How is the line defined between work life and home life in this case? Would it be reasonable to say, “I have commitments this evening and must leave at 5?” or “I can’t meet with a delivery driver or client past X time?”

I honestly don’t know what the norm is and was curious how other salaried employees typically manage their time.

The quick answer is that it really varies by field. There are some jobs where everyone knows going in that they’re going to be working incredibly long hours (for example, big law or political campaigns) and some where the field itself doesn’t require long hours but your particular employer does. And there are some jobs where you’re rarely going to work more than 40 hours a week, some where it’s unusual to work fewer than 45-50, and some where it’s all over the map. So it really depends on the job, your field, and your employer.

In the situation with your husband and the delivery driver, that sounds pretty normal for an exempt position: your husband made reasonable efforts to meet the guy but ultimately made a judgment call that he wasn’t going to go back that late at night. (And that’s a core thing for exempt jobs; you’re supposed to be able to make calls like that yourself, as long as you’re not always putting the business’s interests below your own.)

And yes, sometimes that can mean working until 10 at night. If it’s happening regularly in a job where it shouldn’t, that’s a problem — but there are some jobs where that’s part of the deal (and ideally one of the trade-offs is that you have more flexibility in your schedule than others might). In a healthy workplace, you should also be able to say “I have an unbreakable commitment tonight and need to leave at 5.” Of course, it depends on the circumstances. It shouldn’t be a big deal to say that if a routine meeting is running over. But if you’re the PR director and there’s a crisis, you’re going to be expected to cancel your plans and deal with it.

But let’s get more data by throwing this out to readers: Readers, what field are you in, and what hours do you typically work? Are those typical for your field or just your particular office?

{ 418 comments… read them below }

  1. Red Reader*

    I’m in lower tiers of management for medical finance administration in a very large health care facility. I generally stick pretty close to 40-45, which is standard for the people at my level. My boss probably goes closer to 45-50, and our directors probably hit 50 or so on a regular basis.

    I know my boss and I don’t mind the going-over regularly because we’re remote, so we just roll what would normally be commute time into our willingness to work, since we don’t actually have to put on pants to do it. The directors tend to do their 40 or so on site, then work some more from home in evenings/weekends as needed to keep up.

    1. Anonymouse*

      I also work in a large healthcare system, in hospital administration. I am at the director level and typically work 45 hours a week; however, I routinely have meetings that start at 7am or 6pm and therefore have a much longer day. I can occasionally flex my schedule and leave slightly earlier but typically I still have to be present during normal business hours. On the flip side, I can usually leave for personal appointments when I need to without having to take sick time.

  2. Another Lawyer*

    I’m a lawyer with known busy seasons. I routinely work until midnight during those times, and I’m back in the office at 9. Occasionally, something outside of busy seasons will need to be turned around that night, but it rarely requires me to stay past 9. If I have an evening commitment, I’ll let my boss know and he’ll either cover the work or work something else out, but I try to keep a very clear schedule during times when I expect to work in the evening.

      1. David*

        Big law, finance, and medicine (i.e., client service positions, effectively) might be the outliers in terms of sheer hours. In big law (at least in New York), it’s normal to bill 2500-3000 hours/year. But salaries start at $180k+bonus.

        1. Another Lawyer*

          Absolutely, I’m not BigLaw and I consider myself lucky because I do really interesting work and still get to see my dog.

        2. Pseudo-Fed*

          Then again, in New York, the cost of living is high enough that $180k per year is a good deal less awesome than it sounds to most people. I’m assuming you mean NYC; if you mean Kingston, then I’m off to law school :)

          1. Triangle Pose*

            It’s 180k in a lot of markets not just nyc. Some firms pay you the ny market rate even if you live in Dallas. Which is how we have friends who can be financially responisble and still buy in mansions at age 26.

        3. Christine*

          My brother is a patent lawyer at a big name firm in a big name city. He works absolutely insane hours. Easily 14 hour days, 6.5 days a week during a big case. We once went to visit him and his family for 4 days, and he worked 24 hours straight when we arrived, took a 6 hour nap, and went back to work (he can work remotely most of the time). He finally emerged on day 3 to hang out with us.

          I’m sure the pay is exceedingly awesome, but there’s no way in hell I would EVER do a job with those hours. When would I ever see my kids?

    1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      A big element for attorneys in private is also the on-call aspect – my spouse works fairly reasonable hours, but he is expected to be responsive to email and calls pretty much 24/7/365. When you’re charging $$$/hour, your clients want to know you’re on the ball. This is a big part of why I’m not interested in private practice.

    2. Jennifer Walters*

      This is similar for me. I’m in a mid-size law firm and during trials, I’m living in my office, but outside of busy season, I’m in my office 40-45 hours per week. Though, my minimum annual billable hours are 1700. With two trials already this year (I’m in probate so it doesn’t happen that often), I’m already way above that.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is similar for me. I’m a public interest attorney, but I generally work 12-15 hours/day (excluding time spent for meals). I think that comes out to 60-80 hours/week, and I’m usually closer to 80 during busy periods. I also frequently work on weekends unless things are really really quiet/dead. I prefer to come in early and leave early, but I often work from home in the evenings after the rest of my household is asleep.

    4. Anon attorney*

      I’m thankful that I work in a jurisdiction that does not really have a BigLaw culture, and for a private practice firm which doesn’t have a long hours culture (although we are top ranked – hoorah for results based management). In a run up to trial, I could easily pull 14 hours a day plus weekends, but otherwise I do 40-45 hour weeks and my billable target is around 1700, which doesn’t require sleeping under the desk. Its expected that you will do what needs to be done, and if I need to be in late I will do it, but if I was consistently doing crazy hours, I would ask for some of my work to be reassigned, and it would be.

      1. Anon attorney*

        PS the pay isn’t top rated but I’m content with that. I wouldn’t want to do what it would take to earn top dollar in my field. I like having time to see my cats and go running and clean my own apartment.

      2. HoyaLawya*

        Would you mind telling us what jurisdiction? I am an attorney and my employer routinely requires multiple all-nighters in a row.

        1. Triangle Pose*

          I am in Philly and the big law firm I came from before I landed my in house job paid NYC market rate and I only had 5 all nighters in 2.5 years. I had work late cancel dinner plans and I worked a few weekends straight through but that’s it.

    5. Delta Delta*

      I’m a solo practicing lawyer. I had been in a firm that was big for my area, and I was doing 55-60 hours regularly. I’m on my own now, so it’s a little more flexible, and I find that I’m somewhere around 45-50 hours/week. I also have a couple of side hustles, which each add about 5 hours/week. But they’re purely optional and they pay fairly well, so it’s worth the extra work to me.

  3. anyone out there but me*

    Well, I have a sweet work-from-home gig now, so I truly set my own hours. But prior I worked as a manager and generally put in between 40-45 hours a week. Several times per month I would have to attend an after hours function on behalf of the company, that might put me over 50 hours because it didn’t make sense for me to drive home then drive back to the function.

    My thought is that if the job is going to require longer hours or unusual hours, the salary should reflect it.

    1. Soon to be former fed*

      Might you reveal a tad more about your work at home gig? I’m seeking to supplement my post retirement income that way.
      OT: 40 hours a week except at end of fiscal year when it might be more, or a hard procurement deadline is approaching.

      1. anyone out there but me*

        I started freelancing as a full-charge bookkeeper/virtual assistant. Used my work contacts and networked to ask around and find clients. Right now I have 4 small business clients that keep me working about 30 hours a week on average. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on what time of month it is, or if it is the end of a quarter. When I am not “working” I am available via phone/email to answer questions, perform last minute tasks, respond to one of their clients, book travel…. whatever they need. This is my DREAM JOB. I have wanted to do my own thing for years. I left a pretty toxic environment at my last full time employer. I was not sure what I would do, but I sat down and wrote a list of (a) the things I wanted in a job and (b) the things I refused to do or accept about a job and decided that, ultimately, I wanted to be in charge of me! So… here I am. :)

  4. NacSacJack*

    I am in IT. I am expected to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. Typically, I work 40-45 hours a week. Some weeks I have worked as much as 55 hours (which is my limit) and in some cases, people around me have worked mandatory 70 hour weeks if a project is behind schedule. I am also expected to be available for on-call, middle of the night calls, to resolve production issues. These can take a minimum of 1.5-2 hours, because I am responsible for fixing the issue and making sure the job runs to completion. I am also expected to work weekends when we have a software deployment. This past weekend I worked 4 hours Saturday evening and 7 hours Sunday starting very early. Sometimes the Sundays can run 13 hours.

    1. NacSacJack*

      Forgot to mention – I am salaried. Thus I do not get paid overtime nor do I get matching comp time. My bosses are pretty nice about letting us leave early or take a free half day later in the week, but that varies manager to manager.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Same deal here. When I was non-exempt and hourly, I worked exactly 40 hours a week with occasional exceptions for overtime. Now that I’m exempt, I do whatever needs to be done. Sometimes I come in early and sometimes leave late. Sometimes I do work from home on the evenings and weekends. But sometimes I come in late and leave early. It really just depends on the natural rhythm of things and what emergencies come up.

    3. Grapey*


      I support software for a production line and supply chain, so I need to be here during “regular” 9-5 hours to be a process owner, but I also need to be able to work at night to do upgrades when the system has low load. I’m like 95% process owner and 5% support.

      I’m very thankful that my job and home life is flexible enough for me to say “I’ll work 9-8 Monday to do the upgrade so I will only work 12-5 some other day.” With enough communication, it really all works out. Having this sort of flexibility (even for the production workers) improves morale for everyone. It makes me not mind being on call via email if shit really hits the fan at off hours. I like being there for my coworkers.

    4. Susan Calvin*

      Almost same – 24/7 support is fortunately handled by another team, who can at least hold the fort until I wake up.

      Right now I’m puttering around with 30-35 hrs, because this was budgeted as buffer time which we miraculously didn’t need, which probably means the parallel testing and go-live in September are going to go to hell pretty much immediately. In other words, if you factor in travel times to the customer site, I’ll easily be at 60+.

      1. UKITanon*

        Production support for 24/7 financial systems, in the UK.
        I usually work around 7:30 – 4, for a 40ish hour week. Sometimes the situation calls for longer days, and if I get a work from home day I’ll often “work the commute time”.
        Part of the job is being on call (out of hours) 1 week in 4, if you get called you work it til fixed. Usually that’s an hour or two – major incidents you tag team with colleagues. Standby & callout are at a (low) fixed rate. Other out of hours work – planned changes etc – we get overtime for, and happen with reasonable regularity. We have a pretty strong culture of if you’re off, you’re off – you don’t get bugged outside work hours unless it’s an emergency.

  5. MuseumChick*

    Museums can vary wildly depending on what is coming down the pipe. Most museums I have worked at tend to be slower in the winter so 40 hours a week would be normal. Have an exhibit opening coming up? You may not see your SO or kids for a few weeks.

    1. J*

      Another former museum employee. My department had some public-facing responsibilities. During major exhibition openings/closings, I would be expected to put in some weekend/evening time for alls-hands type stuff. But my role wasn’t curatorial or public-facing, so most weeks were 37.5 hours.

    2. sara*

      I think it also depends a lot on what position you hold within a museum (as well as what museum). I used to work in museum education, and I worked at least 1-2 nights a week and 2-3 weekend days a month to cover various public programs. I averaged about 40-50 hours a week, depending on if I could take flex time to make up for nights and weekends. Technically, flex time wasn’t allowed, but my boss would let it happen under the table.

    3. Eugenie*

      Another museum person here. In my first job planning events (both public and private) I regularly put in 60-70 hours/week. Now I’m an upper-level manager at a different org in a different city and it’s really rare to go over 40 hours. I think the first org really took advantage of their lower-level employees and my current museum is way more fair regarding workload (add to that I was non-exempt in the first job and never got paid any overtime for all the extra work I did, was told to lie on my timecard instead).

    4. Museum2*

      Also a museum employee. In education which is very public facing. We are required to do 35 hours a week, and I’ll say I average 37 or so. I will work more if I’m presenting a workshop, traveling for a conference, or if we have an exhibit opening. We do get comp time for anything over 40 hours a week and can flex our schedules to stay in that 35-40 hour sweet spot most of the time.

  6. Ailin*

    I’m a CNA (not salaried of course), so my hours are typical for healthcare. Late evenings? Yep. Weekends? All the time. Christmas and Thanksgiving? Both of them. But you get used to it and if you work 12 hour shifts, you get more days off in a week than the average person. There’s pros and cons.

    1. Ice Bear*

      I’ve never really understood why nurses work such long shifts when it’s been proven again and again that after a certain # of hours it’s harder to process information. In a health care setting very dire mistakes could be made due to fatigue.

      1. phillykate*

        SAME. My mom is a nurse (typically night shift) and her director has decided all nurses should work a mix of night and day shifts in any given week. She is constantly exhausted; all of that wrecks havoc on someone’s body. Long shifts and mixed shifts.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Ugh. My sister’s an OB-GYN resident, so working nights comes with the territory – but they schedule that as a monthly rotation, so she’ll work nights for a month and then be back to days. She’s still working long hours (in any month) but at least she’s not effectively dealing with major jet lag multiple times a week.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I am not a nurse, but my understanding is there’s a flip side to that, with continuity of care – if one or two nurses (or doctors) spend long hours with the same patients it helps them know better what’s going on and actually improve outcomes in some cases.

        1. Tableau Wizard*

          This! plus with an increase number of handoffs, there’s an increased likelihood that key pieces of information are missed – so there’s a safety component to it too.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yes, that’s another piece of it – if only two nurses (day/night) are handling the same patients most of the week, there’s less likely to be missed info.

            1. Kateshellybo19*

              Add in a constant shortage of medical personnel and so longer hours just to have any coverage at all. Basically if you only have two employees to cover a day it makes more sense to split it in two rather than having each of them work a six hour split shift apiece.

      3. Manders*

        I’m not a nurse, but from what I’ve heard, hospitals prefer that the treatment providers who were there when a patient was admitted stick with them for as long as possible. The Sawbones podcast recently did an episode on medical education and the justifications for making people work such long hours.

        You’re right, people do make more mistakes when they’re fatigued, and that’s a big problem in professions where people are making life-or-death decisions. I think there have been some attempts to reduce problems like dosage mistakes with computers, but it’s still not foolproof.

      4. RN*

        I do not know how nurses who work 8 hours do it. On a rough day I am not even getting started with most of my charting until 12 or 1, right about when, in theory, I would be close to getting off if doing 8 hours. Plus then is when you have all the doctors coming in with new orders, discharges, admits, etc. I get off on time 95% of the time but if I worked 8 hour shifts there is no way I wouldn’t be getting off late most of my shifts.

        Plus, being a nurse in the hospital can be incredibly demanding both physically and mentally in a way no other job I have had has been. It would be very hard to do that 5 days a week. Plus, for us, we usually need people to work OT in the winter and it is a lot easier to get people to come in if they know they will still get 3 days off.

        Finally, as people have already said, continuity of care and minimizing hand offs also greatly increase safety.

    2. Nurse Ratched*

      I believe the research also supports scheduled vs non-scheduled long shifts. For example, I work 12s: I know and expect to be working 12s so I plan my sleeping, eating, and real life schedule around that, and the rate of errors stays low. If I worked 8s and then pulled an unplanned 12-hour shift, that’s when errors go up. What others have said about handoffs is very true. The fewer handoffs the better! I actually left my last job because they were getting rid of 12-hour shifts.

  7. AMPG*

    I’ve worked for non-profits almost my entire career, in salaried positions. The general culture of non-profits is that “you stay until the job’s done,” but I personally keep a lookout for organizations that overwork their employees as a matter of course, and have had the good luck not to be forced into a position where I had to be at work constantly just to stay afloat. In my current position, I work 35-40 hours/week (FT at this org is 35 hours/week), but if there’s an important deadline coming up, I stay until I’m done, up to and including a 12- or 13-hour day. But that only happens a few times a year.

    1. Ama*

      My current nonprofit is similar to yours — I work around 35-40 hours probably 9 months out of the year, there are two busy periods (one of about 8 weeks and one of about 4 weeks) where I work closer to 50, and there are 3-4 events a year where I work multiple 12-14 hour days in a row (although the longest one of those has time in the schedule for an afternoon nap, even if I then have to get up and go back to work for another 6 hours).

    2. Peggy*

      I’m in a similar position – an associate director at a religious education nonprofit. Official hours are 35, and that’s generally what I work, with some occasional email on evenings/weekends, plus a busy season where I do more work from home in the evenings. My boss is also very flexible about things like needing to take a kid to the doctor, etc., or work from home when sick. The downside is that the pay and benefits are crap.

    3. Koko*

      Another nonprofit staffer here. I’m in marketing at an org with a strong commitment to work-life balance. FT is 35 hours a week. I work closer to 40-45 in a typical week, but it’s something like 30-60 minutes at home in the morning, 7.5 hours in the office (with an hour taken for lunch), and 30-60 minutes at home in the evening. (I can only really seem to get on top of my email and housekeeping work outside of core business hours.)

      Also importantly, when I go on vacation I am really on vacation – they don’t call, they hardly even email. They figure out how to make do without me. (Which I make as easy as possible by 1) prepping well for my time off and leaving guidance for different scenarios I anticipate popping up, and 2) on an ongoing basis, sharing with my employee why I do things a certain way so that when I’m not around she can make a call and even if it’s not exactly what I would have done, it’s close enough because she knew what to value.)

      It really does get at what Alison said above – there’s just sort of this balance, where you can put yourself first sometimes, but it can’t be all the time any more than it should be you first all the time. You need to make some sort of good faith assessment of how badly you need to not be at work and how badly the org will suffer if you’re not there. If your thing is of minor importance or easily rearranged, and your absence would be really hard on the org, and your org hasn’t been engaging in a long pattern of exploiting your labor, you should probably rearrange your thing. But if your thing is really important and/or your absence would be pretty easy for them to get around, they should work with you to make that possible for you. Your org shouldn’t be relentlessly intruding on your nights, weekends, or vacations, but you also need to be flexible enough to pitch in when you see that you’re needed and you’re capable.

    4. Peacetrain*

      I’m a director in a nonprofit and it’s normal for me to work 50+ hours a week but I definitely don’t expect/want my staff doing the same unless there are some sort of extreme circumstances. I think it depends a lot on your professional level. I’m not asking a specialist to routinely put in long days and I don’t want my staff burning out so I try to make sure they maintain a good balance.

    5. Violet*

      Also in nonprofits. In many of my past jobs, being exempt meant ridiculous hours. One place I regularly worked 60-hour weeks (and while I was exempt, I was only bringing in $36,000 a year). When that place nearly killed me I went to someplace where long hours were again expected, but they had an interesting “trade-in” unspoken procedure in which after you’d had a couple of hellish weeks, you could cry “Admin Day!” and take some time off.

      My current workplace has a culture of FILO competition, and I’m fighting it hard. I don’t mind going the extra distance when necessary, but it shouldn’t be necessary every day, every week, every month. We’re doing something wrong if people feel like they’re constantly under the gun. And I didn’t take the job at a higher salary than my last position only to come out poorer in the end because of the number of hours. I average about 50 hours a week, which I can live with right now. But one of the things I’m working on that everyone is aware is causing part of the problem is the number and length of meetings we have. It’s kind of hard to do actual work when you are sitting in a 9-hour meeting (this actually happened)!

      1. Jessica*

        This!!! Being able to take an admin day when needed is SO important.

        I actually learned this in boarding school. Once a trimester, the seniors would let the headmaster know when the other students were particularly stressed out (the seniors lived in the dorms with the other three grades), and he would call for a free day. It was always so welcome and so good for morale/everyone’s mental health.

    6. Luv the pets*

      My whole career has been in non-profit and from the vantage point of an exempt employee, it feels like I have seen and done it all. I started in a low-wage position that required 8-5 work, but was on-call for after hours. I have had a lot of flexibility in other positions, allowing flex time and some work-from home or make-your-own-hours/get-the-job-done arrangements. My last couple of positions were work-horse management positions- tons of work/ lots of hours, work until the job is finished. I was putting in 50-60 hours a week, but had some flexibility. I am now working in a large university system in a mid-management position making the most money of my career, but I have the easiest schedule ever. Unless I have a tight deadline so I need to work a little extra, it’s generally 40 hours, no travel, but I do want to get the job done, so I work extra if and when I need to.

    7. LizzE*

      I work in philanthropy (at a foundation) and my hours are also 35/week. There are a few times a year when my hours hit closer to 50-60 due to a major project, but I work 35-40 otherwise.

      1. Jessica*

        Another non-profit worker here! I’m generally 35-40, with somewhat flexible hours, which I appreciate, being a night owl. (Not entirely flexible, because I am a supervisor). Right now I’m on a project deadline (*cough* on a break to read AAM *cough*), and I worked 11 hours the last two days. I have some travel for work coming up, which will end up being 12+ hours, but I personally love traveling for business, so I’m pretty thrilled.

        Generally, I set boundaries by making evening commitments and by being pretty efficient in my work. I also supervise an employee who often works long hours, and I’m currently working on a strategy to get them to cut back/delegate/disconnect/not burn out. Non-profits can be difficult because there’s always more work to be done, and we’re all mission-driven folks. But I try to remind them to focus on the bigger, long-term picture. Folks do better work when they aren’t exhausted.

      2. Mariel*

        I also work in philanthropy (at a foundation with a living donor) and I work 55-60 hours a week. We are expected to be responsive nearly 24/7.

  8. Academic Librarian*

    In general, I work 8-5, but because I have a lot of instructional duties, that shifts a lot during early parts of the semester. As a guest speaker to classes, I teach when the class meets- and that can be anytime between 8 am and 10 pm during the week, and includes Saturdays. To keep from burning out, I aim for 40 or so hours a week, and just shift my schedule accordingly- so if I have a class until 6, I might come in at 9 instead of 8. During the busy season I’ll easily clock 45-50 hours per week, but then I take comp later in the semester to make up for it.

    1. Academic Library (Cataloger)*

      I’m also an academic librarian, but I’m a catalog without any instructional responsibilities. As a result, my schedule is pretty flexible. I work 40 hours/week most week, generally M-F, approximately 8-4:30 with a half hour for lunch.

    2. Academic Librarian (Web Services)*

      I set my own hours as long as I work 40 hours a week, and as long as I am in the office for meetings. In practice, that means 8:30-5:30 with an hour for lunch. I work behind the scenes with electronic services and resources and do not interact directly with students and faculty, so I can be more flexible than my colleagues who work circulation positions or who teach. Because we’re open 24 hours a day I could, theoretically, work all my hours overnight except that I do have frequent face-to-face meetings with others who have to be here during business hours, so I fit my schedule around them.

      As I am responsible for the website, I am also technically on call 24 hours a day if there are major problems, but in practice overnight and weekend emergencies are usually the bailiwick of university IT so I am almost never called or emailed out of work hours, and the few occasions that I’ve had to work outside of my usual hours, my supervisor has approved flex time that I take off the next week, although he’s not required to by university regulations.

      I had a previous job in a similar vein at another university, and there exempt employees had to work AT LEAST 40 hours a week, while we have to work ABOUT 40 hours a week, a small but telling difference. There’s several reasons I’m planning to stick in this job until I retire, and that’s emblematic of them.

      I have a coworker who also works behind the scenes who has set his hours to work 10 hours a day 4 days a week, with 3 days off.

    3. Librariana*

      I typically work 8-4:30 with an hour for lunch. Every once in a while I have an instruction session in the evening or have to work a Saturday, but we are allowed to take comp time (come in later, take the next day off, save the time for another week).

    4. Librarianne*

      Public librarian here. I work two evenings a week until 8 p.m. and the rest of the time until 6 p.m. and every other Saturday. But I only work 40 hours a week and generally don’t take work home with me (except reading). I’m union, and while salaried, hours worked over 40 entitle me to comp time.

      1. Librarianne*

        Adding: because I work with the public, on a set schedule when we require staff to be available to them, I have zero flexibility. There’s no long lunch or ducking out early to get the kid from daycare: I am here during the hours we are open or I’m using my benefit (sick, personal) time.

  9. S-Mart*

    I’m an engineer in the Boston area. I work 40-45 hours a week, and my company supports me being protective of that limit. Maybe once or twice a year I work a 50-60 hour week, if there’s a particular time crisis on something. When I do work long days, it’s typically up to me whether that means starting earlier than usual or ending later.

    1. CM*

      I also work at a Boston-area tech company, and work about 45 hours a week. If something urgent is going on, I may also work remotely from home in the evening or over the weekend, but that only happens once every few months. When it does happen, it usually adds 5-15 hours to my week. However, I interviewed at a number of tech companies where they were very clear that it’s not a 9-to-5 job.

      I think it’s always good to go over schedule expectations with your manager, to be on the safe side — I’ve asked things like “is it OK if I occasionally shift my schedule by an hour or two when I have appointments or childcare duties, and do you want me to tell you in advance when that happens” and “should I be checking my email from home at night, even if I’m not expecting anything to come in?”

  10. JB*


    When I worked for a CPA firm, there was a defined “busy season” for each group where you’d expect to work an arbitrarily large number of hours a week (50-70 or so) and not know until late afternoon whether each day was a ‘leave at 6:30,’ ‘leave at 8,’ or ‘grab dinner and work until 11’ day. Outside of that busy season, the expectation was 8-5. Of course, go-getters would volunteer for extra work/to help out other groups whose busy seasons fell at different times during the year, but there were still the two categories.

    In corporate accounting, it’s somewhat similar. During close (the first few days of the month), leaving at 6 counts as early and you stay until your work is done. Once the books are closed, there may be one or two days where you work more than 8 hours in a day, but those are rare exceptions. Bad companies have inefficient close processes and so the crunch time spills farther into the month; Good companies hold it to 4-5 days. Also, during the annual audit period, you may work later fulfilling auditor requests.

    1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      My husband worked for a CPA firm as a corporate bookkeeper and tax preparer. It was a steady 40 hours a week mid-April until mid-January, when he worked about 50-55 hours to get W-2s out. After that and up until about April 10 his hours increased up to about 80. As a salaried employee, he did earn overtime and bonuses for the number of overtime hours he worked. The CPAs had their own bonus structure based on hours as well. Many of those guys aimed for the 750 hours or the 1000 hours bonuses.

      I was SO HAPPY when he got a new job outside of the tax world.

    2. CMart*

      I’m in corporate accounting as well and that is pretty much my experience.

      I work 8-5 but I lollygag during lunch when it’s not a close period and I rarely take work home. We’re a public company so quarterly and year end closes require a bit more work because we have to file with the SEC. The culture of the office is that when it’s not close week (a 7 working day cycle) you’re probably leaving the office around 3pm on Friday unless something is especially pressing.

      During close week I might come in a touch early and stay a touch late, but I have childcare commitments that mean I can’t stay in-office later than 5:30, so I will often work from home after the baby goes to bed for 2-3 hours.

    3. JustaCPA*

      Also in corporate (private) accounting. Work for an international manufacturing company thats privately held so most weeks are 40-45 hours. Cant work from home which is the only bad thing as there are enough times when I would like to complete something but cant since I have childcare to contend with. Month end close is not too bad (again privately held so our reporting requirements are minimal) I havent gone through year end yet but I imagine it may be a few longer days. Our tax return is due soon and Im not looking forward to that!

    4. Van Wilder*

      I’m a manager in tax at a big 4 CPA firm. I regularly work 10am-midnight 2-3 nights / week during busy season (a month or two, sometimes two busy seasons a year). Even when I’m not in the office late, I’m expected to work again after dinner and on weekends.

  11. AndersonDarling*

    I work at a non-profit and our salary teams usually work fewer that 40 hours in the office, but they collaborate during off hours. They are constantly sending emails back and forth to work out problems or new projects and if something big happens, they will take calls in the middle of the night and come into the office if necessary.
    So on the surface, if looks like they are slacking because their is less butt-in-chair time, but they are connected to their work 24/7. (but no one bugs them on vacation, vacation is sacred)

  12. Not a Real Giraffe*

    I’m a a mid-level corporate event planner in a profession services firm. I typically work 40-45 hours per week, unless it’s the week or two leading up to a major event/meeting, in which case I work closer to 45-50 hours.

    My biggest variables are the days/weeks when an event/meeting is taking place. Depending on the event/meeting, I could work as much as 85 hours in that one week – though typically, it’s more like 60 hours that week.

  13. AliceW*

    I work in finance at Megacorp. I get in at 7 and leave most nights at 6 or 7. Many nights I log in and continue working till 9 or 10. I am often on call or have to work some part of my weekend. Whatever it takes to get the job done. My company expects us to do more with less and work ourselves silly. I do get a nice fat bonus check each year and will be retiring before 50. For those who want a better work life balance, they move on to another company or another field.

  14. JulieBulie*

    I work in engineering. There are people who work 6 to 3. I work 10 to 7. Most people are somewhere in between. Any of us might stay a little late once in a while to wrap something up. On rare occasions we might have to work a lot later, or part of a weekend, but obviously we try to avoid that. The culture here really doesn’t encourage lengthy, chronic, frequent overtime. People work hard, but no one is willing to kill themselves. If people are pushed too hard, they tend to either push back or shut down.

    1. CGE*

      Same. Engineering as well. I work 8-4:30 most days, but if there’s something that needs doing, I might stay til 6 or so. Rarely, I’ve had to work later in the evening or come in on a Saturday, but that’s unusual. I do travel for work, though, and those days can be longer depending on what we’re doing when traveling.

    2. dancer*

      Engineering as well, and I’m in the same boat. I work 7:30 – 4, and unless there’s a hard push at a release deadline, I don’t stay late. Actually, most of the time, if my boss sees me working late, she’ll tell me to go home.

  15. Gallerina*

    I’m in fundraising, so honestly, it varies. Often there are long stretches of 9 -5 with an hour for lunch, followed by periods where you’re pulling a 90 hour week. In my area, you can also end up working some weird hours if you’re dealing with prospects in a different time zone. Due to events/galas/board meetings, evenings and weekend are fairly common, but that’s just a part of the job you expect.

  16. Snark*

    I’m an environmental scientist who does compliance work on a contract basis with a Department of Defense branch. In general, I am limited to 40 hours a week by the terms of the contract under which my employer provides services to our client. Most weeks, that’s as much as I work. But I’ve had weeks and months where it’s jam time, and I work 50-60 hours a week, or until 10 at night, or traveling for site inspections and sampling where I might put in 12-14 hour days. And sometimes I go in at 7:30 and leave at 3:30, sometimes I go in at 9 and leave at 6, sometimes I get tied up and work 9 hours, sometimes I work 7 and knock off early. I always need to be present during “core office hours,” which is 9-3, and my schedule can vary around that.

    There’s a quid pro quo where it’s generally understood that it all works out in the wash, and if you need to dash out and do an errand on a slow afternoon, that’s fine. My job is to write documents, finish projects, and get stuff done, and the getting it done is the important part, however many hours that takes, or doesn’t.

    In general, OP’s husband’s schedule sounds pretty typical and reasonable for a salaried professional. Naturally it varies by field and position, but I think most people who aren’t paid hourly would read the letter and find it pretty familiar, and pretty expected.

    1. Snark*

      And to specifically answer OP’s question: “But does that mean possibly working until close to 10 at night? How is the line defined between work life and home life in this case? Would it be reasonable to say, “I have commitments this evening and must leave at 5?” or “I can’t meet with a delivery driver or client past X time?””

      Sure, it might mean occasionally working till 10. The line is defined on an as-needed basis. If I need to pick the kid up at daycare, I’m walking at 4:15. But there’s no hard and fast boundary. Sometimes I need to give time, sometimes I get to take time, and my employer trusts me to know when each situation applies.

  17. Ptarmigan*

    I work in mortgages as a data analyst. I typically work about 40 hours per week, but I sometimes work late or do some work on weekends, on a pretty much voluntary basis just because I want to get something done or haven’t been as productive as I’d like during regular hours. If I were to leave a couple of hours early on a Friday from time to time, I don’t think anybody would care or mind, but if I did it routinely while also clearly never working outside of standard 8-5 hours, it might not reflect well on me.

  18. MommyMD*

    I also would have gone back to accept the delivery driver at that time if it was only five minutes from my home. But that may a dissenting opinion. In the case of someone running late why not just have them call when they get there if it’s so close to home?

    1. Ice Bear*

      I was thinking the same thing. I would have told the company to call when they were there (or on the way) so there wouldn’t be a need to keep going back and forth like that.

      1. Rincat*

        On several occasions, I’ve had service people not call me when they arrived or were on their way, even after I explicitly told them to call me (and once this was after they didn’t call, billed me as a “no show,” I got it resolved with the company, and they did it again). Maybe that was the case?

      2. MommyMD*

        Exactly. Why go back and forth or sit and wait? Not these days with everyone connected. Go home. Eat dinner. Relax a little and go when the call comes in.

    2. Original Poster*

      That is a fair question and I do not remember why that was an issue. I’m having the husband check this post out later, maybe he can answer that.

  19. Anonymous Poster*

    When I worked in operations engineering, my hours could really vary depending on whether something was going on or not and we needed make sure things went off ok. I generally would adjust my hours and tend to stay around 40 hours/week; so some days I might work 12 hours because of a big event going on, and then adjust my hours the next day and only be there for 4 hours. Sometimes I’d work longer work weeks, but that wasn’t typical.

    Now as a risk manager I don’t tend to go over 40. I have comp time so if I do go long, I go short other weeks.

    1. Anonymous Poster*


      I’m salaried, and make my own hours. I can’t miss meetings, but usually I go for 7-3:30 or so (depending on how reliable the DC metro decides to be that day). My schedule may shift from day to day based on when meetings may happen, but sometimes I also go home and call in from there.

      I have flexibility to work remotely too when I need to, like when I go to the doctor or am traveling for a personal reason like weddings or something. I can call into meetings then, but generally I need to go in person.

  20. Nonprofit Individual Contributer*

    12 years into career in nonprofit finance in a major city. Work generally 40-45 hours, usually 9-5:30, with flexibility to leave early for a yoga class or come in later from a dr appt, some days coming in early for a conference call or staying late to finish a project by a deadline. My supervisor (18 years into career) works about 9:30-5, but also checks email from home. This is typical for the field but also a very family/life friendly office.

  21. TeacherNerd*

    I teach at both the high school (full time) and college levels (part-time). For my FT position, my contract hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; these are the hours I am required to be in school. I’ve been teaching long enough now that I rarely stay past 3:15ish, and while there are times of the year when I might need to spend more time working (end of the quarter or end of the year, for example), I don’t need to do that grading at school, but there are quite a few teachers (usually newer but not always) who will stay until 5 p.m. or later, especially if one is teaching a new class (one will need more preparation time).

    With teaching at the college level, because classes are offered all sorts of hours, as well as online, and Mondays through Saturdays, one’s teaching/on-campus hours will vary greatly, and there’s more autonomy in terms of setting one’s own schedule. Full-time college professors also have various and varying obligations I don’t have as an adjunct, so, again, that will affect the hours one stays on campus and the amount of prep/grading time. So there is no “normal” at that level.

    That said, I’ve encountered teachers on all levels who kinda martyr themselves (this sounds harsh, but it’s a bit true) and come in at 6:30 a.m., don’t leave until 7 p.m., and tell me they spend that much time grading, prepping, etc. When I was a more inexperienced teacher, I understood those kinds of hours, but not if one has gained more experience. (I’m sure there are reasons for these hours, some of which are better than others: bad or nonexistent home life, bad time management, the need to “show up” others, teaching a new class that one is really inexperienced with and therefore requires a lot more time for a little while, etc.)

    My general rule of thumb is that I’m always at my high school job a bit early (10-15 minutes) and stay a bit late (another 10-15 minutes), but I make good use of my prep time and student aides. I teach online classes for my part-time college job, and must be available 10-15 hours every week for student consultations, so that happens in the evenings and weekends, but I’m very protective of my non-work time, so all my work gets done, and gets done well, but within the confines of work.

    1. Humble Schoolmarm*

      My teaching experience is similar in that there are set core hours (8-3:30 for me), and people flex around them. The early birds like to come in at 7 and leave by 4. I’m useless in the morning so I come in at 8:30 and stay until 4:30 or 5:00. There’s also usually an hour or two of work to do at home. One of the reasons I stay late is because I focus better at school than I do at home, but it’s different for everyone. People with small children usually leave earlier and mark and plan after the kids are in bed. There was a movement for teachers to be on call answering emails, tweeting homework and updating Google Classroom when these technologies first appeared but, at least where I am, teachers (and our Union) are pushing back on this.
      As Teacher Nerd said, it does get easier with experience. When I started, I was easily working 60+ hours. Now it’s closer to 45-50 although it would still be 60-ish in the busy times (start of the year and end of term).

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Whoops, I meant 8-3:30. Don’t worry, I’m not leaving the poor kiddos to run amok because I’m not a morning person.

    2. Yorick*

      In graduate school, my university counted a 3-hour adjunct class as 9 hours of work a week (they used this to limit the hours worked in order to keep students from full time). That is the amount of time I aim for when teaching now.

    3. Chameleon*

      I’m a community college adjunct, and I technically only work 18 hours a week (for 3 5-credit courses). Practically speaking, I spent my first year working 50-60 hours per week as I learned the material, created slide decks, wrote and tweaked labs and assessments, graded assignments, etc. I feel like my courses are pretty good now, so I hope I’ll be closer to 35-40 hours a week this year.

      1. Chameleon*

        I should add that I’m only required to be at work during my class hours; the rest of the work can be done whenever and wherever I want.

    4. kc89*

      ” who kinda martyr themselves”

      This is such a thing tbh. My mom was a teacher and she would show up to work about two hours early every day to get all her work done and stay on top of everything, she knew another teacher who would constantly talk about staying until midnight every night and it’s like they taught the same thing… you shouldn’t need to stay until midnight!

  22. Jesmlet*

    I work as a recruiting/project manager with boatloads of independent contractors working under us at all times of the day/week. I have a 40 hour work week where I come in at 9 and leave at 5 or 6, but if something happens outside of those hours, I can’t just ignore it. I think, barring extreme situations, people who have such hard lines between work and personal lives probably end up a little more stressed than people who can flex a bit. If you’re willing to give up an hour of your time outside of work hours when you have no other commitments to solve a problem, things are going to run more smoothly than if you insist on waiting and squeeze it in the following morning.

  23. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    High education administration.

    It really varies by duties and culture. I’ve always worked in student services, and I’ve always worked the 40 hours plus a little more if needed (early-morning registrations, evening info sessions, that kind of thing). At most places I’ve worked it’s fine. However, in my current job (private university) there is a clutch of people spread across different student service units who seem to really believe that if you don’t come in at 7 am and not leave until 8 pm, then you’re just not committed enough. It doesn’t affect my actual compensation, but the judgy attitude can really get to me sometimes. I shouldn’t have to apologize, or get the dark and nasty looks, for coming in at 9, staying until 5:30, getting all my work done in that time and then going home.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Ugh, I hate places like that. In my nonprofit career, I’ve definitely seen people/places like that, but they weren’t the rule. The worst was when I had an office job at a place that included an afterschool program, and those staff people would give me grief when they saw me leaving before 6. But I was also getting into the office 2 hours earlier than they were! Sheesh.

      In my current atmosphere, someone told me she was working herself to burnout, and it turned out that meant an extra hour a day. OK then!

    2. TeacherNerd*

      I mentioned something similar in a previous comment. New-to-the-job sorts of things can certainly affect one’s hours, but dammit, I’m going home not long after my contract hours end. That grading will still be there tomorrow.

    3. Turquoise Cow*

      My old job was like that. If you came in or left on time, you were seen as a slacker. My current job is much more reasonable.

    4. Higher Ed Admin*

      I am also in higher ed admin but *not* in a position that deals with students. I’m salaried, and in general we’re expected to work 37.5 hours per week. I am usually right around there, except for when I’m working on large, time-sensitive projects — then it might be closer to 45 hours in a week. That happens several times a year.

      1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

        Hello fellow non-faculty non-student! I’m curious — what type of institution do you work for: private, public, large land grant, religious?

    5. College Advisor*

      I’m also in higher education administration, and I agree that it varies. I think it really depends on the workload you’re expected to handle, and the culture that leadership fosters.

      I worked in one office where everyone worked at least 40 hours a week, usually more like 45-50. People believed in the importance of the work we were doing, and in doing it well, so everyone was willing to put in extra hours to get it done. We would regularly take work home on the weekends or come in for a few hours on a Saturday. But the trade-off was that we could leave early when necessary or take a half-day without using vacation time.

      I worked in another office where the workload was absolutely insane. We could have worked 24 hours a day and not been able to meet the demand. It was so bad that everyone realized there was no point in even trying to do it all, and we had to draw some boundaries to keep our sanity. Plus our leadership didn’t seem to understand how unmanageable the workload was and never did anything about it except tell people they weren’t working hard enough. So maybe ironically, people actually worked less. It was pretty normal for people in that office to come in an hour late and still leave right at 5pm, and no one worked on weekends.

    6. Rincat*

      The previous university I worked at (small, private) was like that. I remember my director telling us once that the way to succeed there was to “come in early, stay late, and work through lunch” because “people would KILL to work here!” Uh…no thanks. I found a new job at a big state university shortly after, and I love it here. My boss tells me to go home even if I want to stay a few minutes later because he really wants us to maintain a good work-life balance and not get burned out.

    7. Liz*

      Higher ed staff (public institutiona) with IT leanings. We typically work around 40 hours a week. Evenings and weekends not required, though some of us answer emails or catch up a little occasionally. My department is very flexible, so I have some colleagues who work their 40 hours and then take off Friday, some who start at 7am and some who start at 9am. I tend towards 8-5 with the occasional long lunch/workday errand/leave early to balance out my extra work time.

    8. ErinW*

      I’m an office assistant in higher education administration. (Small private liberal arts.) I’m non-exempt and have a 37.5 hour position. Those of us who are non-exempt are strongly encouraged not to exceed 40 hours a week because they do not want to pay any overtime. I start work at 8:30 when our office opens and leave at 4:30. If I have to work past my usual hours, my boss will remind me to take a few hours off later in the week by coming in late or leaving early another day. “Go home, it’ll still be there tomorrow,” is a common thing to hear.

      I think we have a good work-life balance culture here, although it doesn’t necessarily extend to our faculty, who I think are overburdened.

  24. ThatGirl*

    My last job I was able to basically set my own hours around a core of being there or online (we had two WFH days a
    week) from 10-2 – on at-home days I’d start around 6:30; in the office more like 7:30. I wasn’t expected to put in more than 40 hours though we were expected to get projects done on time, which meant some weeks it was 43 or 45 and on rare occasions, nights or weekends to push.

    At my new job I’m still kinda feeling things out, my manager and I are the only two salaried in my group so the others work a more strict 40 hours; I think I’m not *expected* to work more than 40 hours unless we’re slammed. The company is preaching more flexible work hours and the ability to work from home part of the time, but I have yet to see how that will affect me or my group. They do seem to believe in work-life balance, though.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I should note that overall, at my last job, they were truly very flexible – some folks started at 6 a.m., some didn’t roll in until 9:30 or 10 and nobody really minded unless work was falling through the cracks. Seems a little more sticklery here, like, you can start between 7 and 8:30 more or less.

  25. Research Scientist*

    I’m a research scientist at post-doctoral level. Academic labs very wildly with their own cultures, so for context I’m in the UK, I’m in a relatively large group which is postdoc-heavy, and my PI (supervisors) has a young daughter so there is a relaxed atmosphere. As long as the work is getting done, they’re happy. I typically work 40-45 hr per week. We have core hours, which are 10-4pm, during which we are expected to be around, but I’ll typically work 8.30-5.30 most days. The nature of the work also means I can be called upon to pop in over the weekend frequently, for anything from 5 mins to a full day. My partner is also salaried in an industry position and they work a strict 9-5, which influences my work/life balance a lot. That said, I will take work home with me (a lot), especially admin, reading, planning and such.

    1. Chameleon*

      I think the age/funding of the lab makes a big difference in work hours, also. I worked for a while in a new faculty lab, where funding was based on start-up funds and we needed serious results to be competitive for further grants and tenure-track for the PI, so working until 7-8 and coming in one or both days of the weekend was routine. (On the other hand, people usually didn’t come in until 10).

      I then did my grad work in a big, established lab with tons of funding, and while there was certainly occasional overtime, most people were only there 9-6 and weekends were rare.

  26. AnonasaurusRex*

    I’m in IT in healthcare. My regular office hours are 7/7:30 to about 4/4:30. I work from home as needed, sometimes in the evenings I’ll do odds and ends things that are easier to do off hours when less staff are on the system. I occasionally get calls in the evenings or on weekends if there’s an issue. I get emails on my cell and respond if it’s something quick or if I don’t want someone to make a decision or try to fix something without my input. On rare occasion I’ll have to deal with something in the middle of the night. But at a moment’s notice I can take PTO for the day, or leave early, or run errands in the middle of the day, etc. And I live 5 minutes from work and can do just about anything from home so it’s fine. Working in your pajamas while watching Game of Thrones doesn’t really feel like work.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Another healthcare IT person here. I concur on all of that, other than I’m generally 8 to 5. We’re in the middle of a complete upgrade of our information system at the moment, so I’m working overall more than I have in the past. Last night, I took my laptop to the pub and continued working on reports while I waited for trivia night to start, something that even a year ago I wouldn’t have considered doing.

  27. Higher Ed Fundraiser*

    I work in fundraising, and I generally come in around 8:30 and leave at 5, and I almost always work through lunch, which averages a little more than 40 hours a week. I’m generally responsive to emails at night, unless they come in super late, but I do try and spend the short time before my kids go to bed being as present as possible so I don’t have my phone on me then. I also travel overnight roughly once a month, and on day trips a few days a month, and we do more than a handful of events throughout the year that require me to work nights and weekends.

    However, I’ve been given some feedback recently that not working late makes me look less committed than my co-workers (they have high school aged children or no children and are considerably older than me), which is incredibly frustrating because my metrics look basically identical to the other person at my level, I just get it done in fewer hours a week than she does. Overall I prefer this job to previous jobs that focused more intently on what hours you were present (no one would say anything if I got to work at 8:45 or if I did happen to take a long lunch every once in awhile) but I think it’s more difficult for higher ups who aren’t involved in your day-to-day work to know exactly what you’re doing when there’s more flexibility, and that can lead to frustration on both sides.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      That’s so ridiculous if you’re a frontline fundraiser, though! I mean, isn’t your performance in the metrics, rather than facetime in the office? I hate that.

      1. Higher Ed Fundraiser*

        Yep. I hate it too. There are aspects of my job that are more of a hybrid position (though I would argue most frontline people wear multiple hats) but there’s no issue that I’m not getting them done, or not getting them done in a timely manner or something, just literally “you don’t seem as committed as Sharlene because you’re not in the office past five.”

        I work really hard to get out of here by five. I have a commute and young kids, and hanging around here just to hang around here? No thank you.

    2. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      GOD that is annoying. The whole “but you don’t LOOK like you’re committed” is such BS. I’m always tempted to retort, “Yeah, well, you don’t LOOK like you love either your wife or your kid since you spend sixteen hours a day here on purpose” but I don’t, because unnecessary drama.

      1. Heather*

        If I was around and someone ever actually said that, I would be giving them a standing ovation.

      2. Anomanom*

        I did once tell a few workaholic coworkers that unlike them I wasn’t actively avoiding facing my home life, so yes I was leaving and going home now. Day 5 that week of 12 hour days and I used to get the guilt trip when I left before them.

  28. Granny K*

    Individual contributor in marketing hi-tech. Currently I’m working a contract and I can only bill 40 hrs a week (so I am ONLY working 40 hours a week.) When I was a ftp employee, I worked 40-50 hours a week. When I did events, the closer you got to the show, the more hours you worked. Sometimes you log anywhere from 60-90+ the week of the actual event/tradeshow, but then afterwards you can usually take a day or two off and you’re not expected to use your vacation.

  29. GiGi*

    I work in government contracting. For 15 years I worked on the implementer side. I more than occasionally, but less than often (vague much? I just don’t know how else to quantify it as it was peaks and valleys) worked long hours. Usually when I was working long hours it was because I was contributing to new business efforts in addition to my core work responsibilities. However, I was known to work quite quickly. Other people with the same workload as I had to put in a lot more hours to get the same volume done. One exception was years ago my company had me working on a contract that regularly had me at the office until close to midnight (a lot of it do with working across about 8 time zones). At the time I was working in downtown DC and commuting from the ‘burbs so I was getting home at 1am or later. In that situation we adjusted my hours. My “official hours” became 10am-7:30pm and if I had to stay past that I was to be away from the office for 12 hours before coming back in.

    For the past 18 months I have moved to another company that does institutional support contracts. So basically I am working to support the government agency that I was implementing for since the beginning of my working life. Now I work at the pace of government. Urgent now means in 3 weeks instead of by close of business today. I do my 8 hours and leave. One time I was at the office until 10pm because the Team Lead promised the client that we would get a report revision to him the next day without realizing that the whole report needed to be rewritten rather than just reformatted. My coworker and I stayed as late was we could and just called it quits and went home. Missed the deadline by a full day, but it wasn’t a biggie.

  30. TotesMaGoats*

    Higher Ed admin

    Generally, you work 8 hours a day. Except for right now when classes are about to start and things are catching on fire. I come in at 8 because that’s what works with daycare drop off. I stay till 5 on a normal day and later recently because of said fires. I’m also working Saturday. For my team, I’m making sure that they get some other time off but I’m expected to sort that out for myself. I probably won’t because I count it as part of what needs to be done to do my job. That said, I can work from home if needed and my pay/leave hours are more than appropriate.

  31. Xay*

    My hours have varied depending on my employer. When I worked in state government, the expectation was a 40 hour week and they were generous with comp time for extra hours worked even though I was salaried. Extra hours were rare and usually due to emergency response activities, conference planning, or rarely grant writing and proposal reviews.

    When I worked in government contracting, the expectation was 40 hours a week for the government client with an additional 5-10 hours per week in work for the company (proposal development, training, etc).

    When I worked in consulting (federal government), the expectation was at least 40 billed hours a week for the client with as many unbilled hours as necessary to complete the work on time, plus 10-15 hours per week for the company (proposal development, training, internal business activities, etc).

    Now that I work for a non-profit, the expectation is 40 hours per week with the understanding that only the most challenging projects should require more than that and the ability to flex out additional time worked as needed, especially for weekend work.

    1. Xay*

      ETA: In all of these roles, I have been fortunate to have reasonably flexible supervisors as far as my daily work hours. I completed a masters degree while working full time and I was able to work with my employers to make sure I had the time to do so. But, that meant being willing to work longer hours when I was available, doing as much as possible to be available during busy periods such as project close out, annual reporting, and proposal development seasons, and taking work home for late nights and on weekends.

  32. Ecaps*

    I work at an agency that does fundraising for other organizations. For most of the year, I’m here roughly 42 hours a week, with an occasional stay until 7 or 7:30 (I usually leave at 5:30) if something crazy has happened and needs to be dealt with. November and December – that number creeps up to 45-50 hours a week because it’s our busy season, and staying until 8 or 9 p.m. is not unheard of if something goes wrong and has to be fixed immediately.

  33. Office Manager*

    My husband has an unofficial 60 hour work week. He’s a salaried regional manager, who’s territory spans 3 time zones. He usually works 5 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Friday. Which is actually better than being the local manager, because then he had to work weekends and holidays- now he makes the locals that report to him take the weekend and holiday shifts.

    I’m also salaried, but my typical hours are 8 AM – 3:30 PM, Monday-Friday, never any weekends, but we have limited holidays- only the 6 big ones- New Years, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. We work all of the other bank holidays.

  34. KB*

    Hey Alison, I noticed an interesting quirk. I use an RSS app on my phone to read most of your posts and it originally had this question posted on 8/21 as your mid-morning post for the day. I don’t know if it is showing posts a few days early or what. This is the second time recently that it has happened.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      When I set up the post, I accidentally hit “publish” rather than “schedule,” so it published it right away. I fixed it two seconds later, but the RSS feed still grabbed it!

  35. Temperance*

    I work in law firm pro bono, which is kind of a niche in the legal field. My schedule really varies depending on what we have going on. For example, we were really busy for most of June, and I was in the office about 60 hours/week and working at home as well. I would estimate that I was putting in about 80 – 95 hours/week at that point.

    August is notoriously a dead time for firms, so I’ve been working about 30 hours/week for the past 2 weeks.

  36. Maude*

    I worked in manufacturing for over 15 a management role. The hours the OP is describing for her husband are pretty typical in my experience. That no longer worked or me and my family so I accepted a job in state government where 37.5 hours per week is the norm. My base salary is significantly less, but I just did the math and I come out ahead on an hourly basis. The work if balance has been a positive trade off for the loss of income for me.

  37. CheeryO*

    I work for state government in an engineering position, and it’s a strict 37.5 hours per week. The culture here definitely reflects that – if I stay five minutes late to wrap up an email, someone will comment on it. There is some flexibility in start and end time, between 7:30 and 5:00 PM, but you’re expected to stick with a schedule once you choose it. I do a lot of work in the field and have to be careful about scheduling and making sure I take lunch since we aren’t supposed to flex our hours. We get a very generous amount of personal/sick/vacation leave, so I just use it when I have a mid-day appointment.

    I’ve had to go over 37.5 hours a handful of times in the 2.5 years I’ve been here – we get comp time up to 40 hours per week and overtime past 40. It’s strongly discouraged unless there’s a need for it (and it’s almost always due to travel to the state capitol for meetings or training, not workload). It’s definitely cushy, although the job has its challenges.

    1. LT*

      I work in state government, too, and it’s 35 hours per week for us. Some higher positions might require 40-hour workweeks, but for classified titles, 35 seems to be the norm.
      However, we aren’t as stringent in having to stop the moment we’ve reached our 7th hour. Though we don’t get OT, we do get comp time, but we have to request it in advance (as if I know I’ll already be working late that day). Not everyone knows about that, though; until I had spoken with someone who had been there longer, my boss and I were of the mindset that “too bad you worked over time but you can only book the 70 hours you’re required to work (biweekly payroll = 70 hours)”

  38. the gold digger*

    Marketing for an engineering company. I usually work 40-45 hours, but when I travel to HQ, I will start with breakfast meetings at 7:00 a.m. and end with supper meetings until 10:00 p.m. I don’t get OT or comp time, but I do not feel bad about walking out early on the occasional Friday afternoon when there is nothing big going on.

    When I worked in corporate finance at the trucking company in Miami, I got to work at 7:15 a.m. and usually didn’t leave until after 8:00 p.m. The two times I dared to leave at 6:00 p.m. – the official end to working hours, I was counseled.

    I hated that job and quit after one year and one day. There was 100% turnover in the year I was there.

  39. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I generally work 8:45-6. My hours are officially 8:30-5:30 or so, but I work very closely with my boss and he often comes in later and stays later. When he and I are in the middle of something late in the day, I don’t like to leave just because it’s “time to go”, but I have complete freedom to say that I have plans or an evening commitment or something. My company is very good about respecting time. When it’s a slow day and I’m waiting for something to come in the next day, I often leave a little early. I also feel fine coming in late if I don’t have a morning commitment or meeting– this morning I was simply running behind and I came in just after 9, no one blinked. I travel occasionally and sometimes have to do things outside of regular work hours, but I also get a lot of flexibility so I don’t really mind.

    That said, I work in a niche area of consulting, and at my last job, I often stayed really late. One night I was there until 11pm. That was unusual, but working past 7pm was not. My company claimed to promote good work-life balance but they rarely honored that. One night I noted on my (public) company calendar that I would be leaving at 5:30 for dinner with my family, and the CEO sent me two emails after 6pm– the second was a sarcastic note about not getting a response, so I answered at 9pm that night. I was also expected to work on weekends and be in touch with co-workers if we had projects in the field. This sounds kind of normal to me for small, start-up-esque consulting firms. (It sucked.)

    When I worked on the client side for a huge corporation, my time was pretty flexible. Some days, though, I would end up working late unexpectedly. It was just the nature of the gig. I always had a standing obligation one evening a week and I don’t think I ever missed it for work. I have, however, had to reschedule drinks or dinner with friends or arrive late to things because I simply had to finish something that came up.

    My boyfriend, who has never held a corporate/exempt job, doesn’t always understand this and sometimes he gives me a hard time about it. Don’t do that, OP. :) He sees the flexibility I have and wonders why I leave so early in the mornings, then sometimes he wonders why I can’t just take a random day off here or there or why I can’t just pick up and leave early some days. Because… I can’t. Or, rather, I don’t want to, because my nature is to be available during the hours I’m supposed to be available.

    1. Original Poster*

      Haha, I won’t!

      I used to get frustrated with the inconsistencies because we have an infant and it would be nice to know when I can count him for his help. I’ve learned to reframe in my mind what his job really is and requires.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Ooh, having a baby makes things tough, especially if you’re like me and count on routines to keep you sane. My boyfriend has managed to re-frame things so that if I get home before 6pm he thinks I “left early” and it’s a nice surprise, but he expects me at 6:30. So maybe making the expectations later will help? He should also give you a heads-up if it’s going to be a while, which I hope he’s already doing!

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        And also– it is usually perfectly ok to say he needs to get home if his boss starts work on something and it gets late. I say “usually”, but that does sometimes depend on the boss. But if Cory feels comfortable, he should work on asking his boss if they can table something until the morning because he needs to get home and take over baby duties, just as I feel comfortable saying, “Hey boss, I have to get to a 7pm volunteer meeting, can we finish this tomorrow?” And know that sometimes things just have to get done.

        1. Original Poster*

          That’s a really good suggestion on assuming he’ll be home later, so if he’s not, it’s a nice surprise. :)

          I think he would say/has said that to his boss in certain circumstances, on a case-to-case basis.

  40. Kit*

    I’m a butcher. I almost always work 7-4. I sometimes have to stay late to finish something (no more than an hour), but I’ll claw back that time another day. We treat it more like being hourly, but I’m the one in charge of making sure it averages out to 45 hours a week.

    1. Chameleon*

      I’m always kind of fascinated by people with your type of job. Like, I intellectually know that meat still needs to be slaughtered and properly cut, but it seems so…I don’t know, old-timey?

      1. CM*

        Not every job is a desk job! It’s not “old-timey” to do hands-on work. And thank goodness, because you can’t eat an Excel spreadsheet.

        1. Chameleon*

          Of course non-desk jobs are a thing! I don’t have the same reaction to, say, a construction worker, an electrician, or a farmer. It’s more things like blacksmiths and chimney sweeps–like, I know people still need wrought iron and have dirty chimneys, it just makes my brain hiccup for a second.

      2. Original Poster*

        I wrote an article awhile back interviewing people in old fashioned industries that are coming back into popularity and it included a butcher, a chimney sweep, a shoe cobbler, a midwife, a milk delivery guy, and a doctor who did home visits.

      3. Kit*

        It’s funny, I get that a lot, but butchery has never gone anywhere! There are butchers at every grocery store. At my store we work out in the open, behind a display case, so everyone can see us cutting. It’s pretty neat I think.

  41. Elem. Teacher*

    I’m a 4th grade teacher (so there is much more parent contact expected than at the high school level). My hours are school hours (8:30 – 3:30), but I am usually at school earlier and/or later (attending meetings, prepping for future units). There are a lot of “extras” in teaching that add up to a lot of out-of-school hours, but the most challenging part is being on the parents’ email schedules, which are almost always outside of business hours/after kids are asleep. I find it difficult to not check emails in the evening, so I often end up spending a long time crafting a sensitive email (or mulling it over, or losing sleep over it) way late at night. Even benign “what time is pickup for the field trip tomorrow?” emails take on an extra weight when they’re sent at 10:30 and a response is expected before school the next day.

    I realize most of this is my own process of learning how to compartmentalize and set boundaries around my own time, but I think a lot of teachers are in the same boat, and the unpredictability of the extra hours, combined with the emotional labor of the work we do, is a big factor in early career teacher burnout.

    1. Rachel Green*

      My sister is a high school teacher, and she finally had to quit reading emails at home. She was getting a lot of angry parent emails at night, which bothered her and affected her sleep. Now, I think she lets parents/students know at the beginning of the semester that she does not check email after 7 pm and will respond to emails within 24 hours or something like that. That way, if she gets a late night email, the parent doesn’t expect (or shouldn’t expect) a response right away.

      1. Elem. Teacher*

        That is my goal! I find it hard to set strict boundaries at the beginning of the year when I’m not tired yet/trying to form a partnership with the parents and be helpful and accommodating. It bites me later in the year when I’m getting text messages at 6:45 am about little Clarence’s dentist appointment (or waking up to the vitriolic, sent-at-midnight, emotional email). I’ve worked pretty hard to set boundaries on my response time, but it’s the time spent thinking about it that ends up eating into my life.

        I think a lot of this is also really dependent on admin/school culture. Is it expected of you that you’ll answer emails/texts like that in a short time frame? Is it a norm at the school that parents are encouraged to think of teachers as “on call” all the time? I feel thankful that I don’t have a “regular” 14-hour workday like a lot of people are mentioning here, but a lot of days, that’s what it ends up being.

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          It is totally dependent on admin! Luckily, mine have been supportive of a 24hr turn-around (although they will sometimes request that I deal with something more quickly if the parents are…insistant…). It’s also not expected, and vaguely discouraged, for teachers to give out their cell numbers to text (although some do). Sometimes, though, it can be challenging to deal with different teachers’ boundaries. I have a colleague who finds answering emails and google messaging back and forth with students a good way to pass the time while feeding her youngest in the evenings. It feels a little uncomfortable to follow up her “You can reach me anytime!” at Parent Teacher night with my “You’ll hear back from me within a day or so!”

          As for setting boundaries, I’ve found explaining at the start of the year in a cheerful, matter- of-fact sort of way that “I check my email frequently until I leave for the day at 5:00. If you have any questions or concerns, I will get back to you as soon as I can, usually within 24 hours.” works fine. If you want to wean yourself off late night emails, you can always write out your reply in the evening, then send it the next day once you’re at school. (Oh, and turn off phone alerts so nothing buzzes at 6:45).

        2. Rachel Green*

          Yeah, setting those boundaries can be really tough. I know my sister was always very stressed out, even thinking about emails. Particularly if she got a nasty email, she’d agonize over how to respond.

          I agree that it depends on admin/school culture. The school she taught at last year had policies about email/phone calls that all teachers had to follow. I don’t remember what the response times required by their policy were. But there’s always going to be that one teacher who responds immediately, and all the parents start to expect it from all the other teachers. Being a teacher is hard! I wish parents were more grateful of all the work that you guys do!

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            The nasty emails are what prompted me to stop checking my work email before bed! I do sometimes check email after work or on the weekends but generally don’t respond on principle – the exception being if it’s a polite, time-sensitive request from a parent who hasn’t already shown signs of being overly demanding. But knowing that an angry email is sitting there makes it hard for me to fall asleep.

        3. Drama Llama's Mama*

          I can only speak for myself as a parent of an elementary schooler, but even though I might send a late-night email, I absolutely don’t expect an immediate response. Depending on the subject matter, I might expect a day or two at best (or no response for an FYI type of thing). I also hope I’d never send a nasty emotional email, so I’m sorry that others do and teachers have to deal with that!

    2. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Email is a huge challenge. Originally, I wanted to be accessible for homework and study help, but I quickly discovered that I was getting emails from very capable but over-stressed students who were looking for reassurance (which is hard to provide electronically) and nothing from students (or their parents) who needed extra help. Like you, I ended up spending most of my time hyper-focused on sensitive emails (and on parents’ responses to sensitive emails). I found it was a lot of stress for limited pay-off in terms of providing academic support OR building relationships with parents. For the past few years, I’ve had a no emails after I leave school policy (unless there’s something really time sensitive like a field trip), and while it’s not 100%, it hasn’t caused too many problems.

    3. Manders*

      My husband’s just about to start his second year of teaching high school and he’s struggling with the email issue. He’s lucky that the parents he’s had so far are understanding about the timing of emails, but he’s spending a lot of time worrying about the phrasing of emails. A lot of his students have learning disabilities or mental health issues and he also worries about having to come up with accommodations or decide on whether or not to give extensions on the fly.

      He also spends a LOT of time lesson planning and going to meetings. His school has an unusual team teaching program which means all the teachers in a grade level have to reach a consensus about assignments, so meetings drag on for ages. Even though he’s not paid as a full time teacher he’s definitely putting more than 40 hours a week into work.

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I’m an elementary teacher as well. I’m expected to be at school from 8-4, with one extra hour a week for a faculty meeting that goes until 5. I’m often at school a bit later than that, but I’ve gotten much better at getting out the door now that I have a kid to pick up from daycare! I also don’t really take work home (I don’t have mountains of essays or tests to grade like a high school teacher might – most of my prep work involves organizing physical objects in my actual classroom) and I usually don’t check email at home. It helps that my administration has been very deliberate about communicating to the parents that teachers are not “on call” via email constantly – that we will respond promptly, but we won’t do email in the evenings and that during the school day we may not respond immediately because we’re busy teaching your children. Because this is in the culture, I don’t generally get parents who are upset about that.

      There are some exceptions. During the week or two leading up to report cards I am writing reports on nights and weekends and probably work about 80 hours a week. I also chaperone some outdoor ed trips, and of course while I’m on those trips I’m “on” 24 hours a day! But overall being an experienced teacher means I’m able to maintain a good work-life balance.

    5. Elementary Teacher*

      I definitely hear you on the late night emails. In general, I’ll email colleagues late into the evening (e.g. emailed my principal last night at 11pm), but I definitely draw the line with parents. I try to only answer those during reasonable hours (say until 6pm ish) or else I’m afraid they’ll expect me to be at their beck and call. I *definitely* do not give them my cell phone number. Noooo thank you.

      I might make an exception with the 10:30pm field trip email if it was a one-time thing with this particular parent. Depends on the circumstances. There’s also the real possibility that I wouldn’t have checked my work email that late at night and would have missed it.

  42. MAB*

    I am in management of a food manufacturer that runs 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I am pretty strict on my hours that my butt is in my chair (0800-1630) but I make myself available to all my personal and any of the other departments all day, every day. I am willing and able to work at my desk longer if necessary but I try to not work more than 50 hours in a week for my own mental health. During the busier seasons I work 50-60 hours a week and the slower I work closer to 38-42. It all depends on the work load and how much support I have from those around me.

    In addition I started a new job this year and this company does care if I work less than 40 hours in a week. Which in all honestly is a bit odd for this industry. The last 2 I worked for just cared that I was available for calls all the time and I got my work done.

  43. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    I work in a senior individual contributor role at a health plan. Most weeks I work 40-45 hours (8:30am-5:30pm, work through lunch most days), but when I’m working hard to get a project done on a deadline or travelling to give presentations or training I will often work closer to 50-55 hours. Rarely do I need to work more than that. It does mean occasional work in the evenings or weekends, but this is balanced by being able to come in a bit later or work from home on days I don’t have in person meetings. Today, for example, I’m working from the Honda dealership while my car is getting fixed, and once it’s done I’ll work from home for the remainder of the day. I have a really reasonable boss when it comes to work/life balance though!

  44. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    I’m a trainer in the UK. I’m paid to work a 37 hour week and I work… a 37 hour week. I’m in the ‘classroom’ from 10 – 4 most Monday – Thursdays, and admin / course prep happens outside of that time but there honestly isn’t that much to do other than my classroom work because there are so many admins and co-ordinators in the department. I have outside commitments that include a second job as a tutor and trainer, a part-time master’s degree, a social life and a cat, and presenteeism isn’t my style, so I’m out of the door at 4.30pm each and every day.

    I’m shortly becoming fully freelance, so I expect I’ll work rather more when I’m my own employer and not chained to an organisation I have grown to intensely dislike!

  45. Murphy*

    I’m non-faculty staff at a university. Non-exempt (I earn comp time, no paid overtime.) So I’m expected to work exactly 40. They recently started making us clock in and out instead of keeping track of our own hours, so it really needs to be exactly 40 now. Occasionally I do work extra, but that’s usually because of an event or a project that I know about in advance. I’ve only worked weekends like twice. It’s good and bad, because I have to take leave if I’m under 40 at all. But within that, I can pretty much set my own times as long as they’re reasonable. People start anywhere between 7 and 10 in my office.

    My husband is a salaried engineer. He can come and go a little easier than I can, but when there’s a deadline, he’s expected to work to get it done. Many evenings and weekends.

  46. Rachel Green*

    I am an engineer and I work for a state government agency. I have a set schedule and don’t work over 40 hrs very often. HR has to know what your work schedule is, and if you want to make changes to your schedule you have to notify HR. So, for example, someone may work 7 am to 4 pm with an hour lunch break. But if they want to change their schedule to 8 am to 5 pm, they have to notify their supervisor and HR. My employer also offers a compressed work schedule, where someone works 9 hr days Monday through Thursday, then have every other Friday off. On working Fridays, they only work 8 hrs. I tried the compressed schedule for a while, but didn’t like it. I now work the same hours M-F, 8 hrs a day, 40 hrs a week. I really like having a predictable schedule.

    If I worked in private industry as an engineer, I’m sure my hours would frequently be more than 40 hrs a week and my schedule would be more sporadic. But the salary would be much higher!

    1. CheeryO*

      Wonder if we work for the same state. I’m still thinking about the compressed schedule. Love the idea of a three day weekend every other weekend, but I’m not sure if I’d actually get enough done to make up for the extra hours lost throughout the week.

    2. LT*

      Mentioned in another comment about working for state gov but we do also get this compressed schedule option! It’s convenient once it becomes routine but there are periods throughout the year (our busy season, I guess) where I acknowledge why management has held off on allowing new employees to take advantage of the compressed schedule while they re-evaluate its pros/cons.

  47. Turquoise Cow*

    I work in the corporate office of a retail store, doing what I guess mainly would be described as data entry. I’m hourly now, and my boss is cool if I come in a bit late or early and adjust my leaving time. Office hours are 8:30-5 (with an hour lunch) and I know a lot of people come in at 7:30 or 8 and leave at 4:30 or so.

    My previous job was similar but salaried, but management was big on people being in on time. The hours were 8:30-4:45 (technically only 45 minutes for lunch, but most salaried people took a full hour if they were able), but it was really frowned on if you actually came in and left at those times, so I usually did more like 8:15-5:30. I can’t do mornings because I just can’t get up early, so I was more likely to stay late than come in early. So, I guess the total hours per week was more like 45? There were occasional times where I’d have to stay late a day or two, but no serious busy times.

    My husband works a lot more than I do. He works in tech for a startup, and there are days when he gets a phone call on the weekend or late at night and he needs to walk someone through a server installation or upgrade (they tend to run through the manual labor folks pretty quickly and he often needs to remotely supervise them or direct them to read the documentation already available.) It’s hard to put a number on how many hours he works on average but I’d guess between 45-50.

    It ends up being a trade-off, I think, because he can work from home 2-3 days a week.

    There are times when he works in the evenings, or has a late business meeting or dinner with a client, and then I feel like he works too much, especially because I’ve always had a job where I leave the building and I’m Done with work, whereas his kind of follows him around. OP, I feel like maybe *that* is what might be bothering you more than the total number of hours worked – that work is always *there*, even during times that you might have expected to be personal and work-free. I feel you.

  48. HMM*

    HR staff for national nonprofit
    Pretty steady 40 hours per week; clock in at 8, and take off at 4:30 (I’m nonexempt, so unpaid 30 minute lunch)
    Recently with the departure of a team member and big events it’s creeped up to ~45 hours/week, but other than that it’s pretty steady. Employer is pretty good about letting me handle my own schedule, but is also generous with comp time for the really long 10-12 hour days that I occasionally have to do. Because of my role, nearly all of my work is in-office, with very little flexibility for working remotely.

    The nice thing about working in HR is that you mostly know the baseline for what is/isn’t reasonable, which makes it easy to set boundaries and stick with them.

  49. Stayc*

    I’m a proposal manager for a Government Contractor, so our busy season is July through September. During that time, I often work 60 hour weeks and it often means working and responding to emails until midnight. I work from home 3 days a week which helps. During the non-busy season, we have spikes where I may work 45-50 hours, but otherwise I generally stay around 40. And in October when everyone’s trying to catch their breath, we have a lot of flexibility.

  50. Professor Ronny*

    I am currently a full professor at a very large State university (in top 50 in size). My offline classes have different schedules each semester. This semester, it happens to be MWF 10:00 – 12:00. Outside of those hours, I manage my hours as I see fit. I typically work 50-ish hours a week between online classes and research. I don’t get vacation but also don’t have to work when classes are not in session.

    Before this, I worked in the corporate world at one of the largest three utilities in the nation. There, I typically worked 40-50 hours a week except when the company was working on and filing a “rate case”. That is where they ask the Public Service Commission to allow them to raise their rates. During this period, 80 hours was a short week.

    Rate case work typically took about three months once every two years or so. However, I worked on one monster nuclear rate case and went for almost a year; although, my work on it was closer to six months. Let me just warn you that you never want to work for an electric utility that is planning to file a nuclear rate case.

    1. KG, Ph.D.*

      Jumping on this comment, since I’m in academia as well!

      I’m a tenure-track faculty member at a large, teaching-focused state institution. During the academic year, I work 50-70 hours a week, depending on what’s going on (start of the semester and finals are particularly rough). Our semester just started yesterday, so I’m looking at 12-hour days for the next few weeks as I get a handle on things. I also work during the summers (mostly on research, because I’m trying to get tenure), but closer to 20-30 hours per week on average, with a few vacations sprinkled in.

      My time is pretty flexible, and I can work from home a LOT (and I do!). I need to be at work to teach, to attend meetings, to do academic advising, and to help my students in the lab, but I’ve clustered everything on M/W afternoons and T/Th mornings, so I’m only in the office about 30 hours a week. I’d much rather do work on my couch with a glass of wine, which is exactly what I did until 10 PM last night. :) Taking a sick day or vacation day during the semester is difficult, because I need to get someone to cover my classes, so I try to avoid doing that whenever possible. But summers are totally flexible, and I took several weeklong trips this summer. I worked during a few of them, but I also took plenty of days and weeks off entirely. This is definitely the upside to the heavy workload during the academic year!

      My husband is a researcher at a national lab, and while his work is different from mine, the time demands are similar. He averages 50-70 hours per week, with similar flexibility. He’s working from home today, in fact! The one big exception is that — trying to be vague here to preserve anonymity — he has to provide support to users of a particular research instrument. That is, people apply to come and use this instrument for their research, and he has to help them with experimental setup, taking data, etc. This is only during certain times of the year, but he’ll go 3+ weeks without a day off, and with a few 15-hour days and all-nighters sprinkled in there. It’s not very fun, but again, the flexibility the rest of the time balances it out. He also knew this going into the job, so it’s easier to stomach.

      Upside/downside: my husband’s busy season is (mostly) late summer. This is great because it means I can pick up his slack during his busy period, and vice versa. But it also means that we don’t really get to relax and enjoy our summer *together*. I’m not sure how we’re going to manage these hours once we have kids, but we make it work for now! We even have a dog, although he goes to a lovely doggy daycare two days a week.

      1. rj*

        I’m also an academic. I previously worked at a small teaching college (religious) and now am at a smaller R1 flagship state institution. I work a lot. I try to work 8 hrs/day only and half day on Saturdays. Today I probably worked only around 5 because yesterday was the first day of teaching and I needed to recover. I am also not sure how to categorize the time I spend staring at my computer and words are not going on to the page but I am theoretically “writing.”

  51. diaphanous*

    Chemical production engineering

    I work 40-45 hours in a typical week. I usually work 8-6, but have been known to come in at 5 or stay until 8. I’ll flex my start and end times to stay in that 40-45 range. I’m also on call and can end up working in the middle of the night, weekends, and holidays about twice a month. If I go over, it’s because I’m coming up on a deadline or something has gone really off the rails.

  52. anan*

    I work in local government administration, as a professional employee – think policy development and coordination. We are salaried but capped at 80 hours biweekly – if we go over we are supposed to receive 1.5x comp time. Since we need to get prior approval to work overtime, I generally stay to 80 hours but sometimes feel pressure to go over and not report it (if I have to get something done on Friday afternoon and haven’t already been approved for overtime, I clock out and just do it). But this has usually been limited in my current position, since I don’t typically hit 80 before noon on the last day of the pay period. In my prior department, we had a lot more flexibility to take comp time – if we went over 8 hours in a day we took comp time for the excess and didn’t have to request permission. As long as it didn’t appear abusive of the policy managers didn’t have a problem with that.

  53. Mimmy*

    I work in a state-run rehabilitation center as an instructor – I think most of our instructors are full-time, but me and the other instructor in my area are both considered temporary part-time, so we work roughly 21 hours a week.

    My husband is in IT for a major telecommunications company, and typically works from 8 to 5, but does often have off-hour duties. On those days, he will shift his hours, e.g. take off the afternoon on a day he has to work at night.

  54. Nervous Accountant*

    Tax Accountant. During the off season, core hours are 930-630/10-7. Many will show up a little early, stay a little late but we don’t get compensated for this. You get 1 hour break. and 2 15-minute (or 10 min idk) breaks. I’m not sure if you call it paid or unpaid since we get paid the same amount every 2 weeks (but of course if we work less hours and dont use PTO, our paycheck is short).

    During tax season, minimum 55 hours, including at least 1 weekend day. We get our “bonus” as PTO, not extra $$$. Support staff is paid hourly, so they get overtime.

    Before this I’ve always been hourly so.

  55. Higher Ed Administration*

    The university I work at is very 9-to-5 (or 9:30-5:30, or 10-6), with the exception of occasional morning or evening events, on the administrative side. I’ve been here almost two years, and outside of events, I’ve only had to stay late for projects a few times.

  56. De Minimis*

    I work 45 just due to carpooling with someone who has a set schedule and leaves later.

    It varies even within my workplace, I’d guess most employees here work a straight 40. Everyone is salaried. They may actually work somewhat less than 40 since they seem to get in around 9 and usually hit the door at 5, and take a lunch.

    My boss works more like 50 most weeks, possibly longer because sometimes he is here when I arrive and is still here when I leave. He has no reason to do this, though, and I sometimes get irritated because I think he expects me to keep similar hours. None of our work is pressing enough to require more than a 40 hour work week–true “emergencies” are rare, and any deadlines are known months in advance [sometimes longer.] I work in the non-profit field, in finance. Even when we have auditors on site, the auditors are only here throughout the workday and are always out the door by 5:30 each day.

    1. De Minimis*

      Oh, and one thing that really bugs me…we do not have comp time, though we do have very generous vacation time.
      But the lack of comp time really takes advantage of people, in my opinion. We have a lot of people who travel for events and are often travelling back home during the weekend. They don’t get any sort of comp time for doing that. We have people who travel quite frequently so if you count the time they spend travelling for work, they often put in way more than 40.

      Sometimes it does work in the employee’s favor, if you need to leave early for a doctor appointment or something else, you don’t have to worry about losing any sick or vacation time, but I think most of the time it works the other way.

      1. Higher Ed Fundraiser*

        Yes! My husband gets comp time and has months of vacation built up. I work more hours than he does most weeks, but I am routinely running low on sick/vacation time (we have young kids who occasionally get sick, and I’m pregnant, so I have a fair amount of regular-ish appointments, all close to my work but about an hour from his so very few months go by where I’m not having to use a day or two for something) but his leave bank is overflowing. It’s very frustrating.

        1. Chameleon*

          I’m sure you have thought of this, but if he has so much leave, can’t he take days off to care for the sick kids?

  57. Blue Anne*

    I’m in public accounting. Most of the time I work 40 hours a week with maybe a few hours of overtime. But on a tax deadline, I’ll usually clock 50-55 hours a week, and during personal tax season I can easily hit 65-70 per week for a few months.

  58. Gaia*

    I am a mid level salaried, exempt, manager. I am involved in several large projects outside of the normal scope of managing my team and these projects have me interacting with offices in Europe, Middle East and Asia on a fairly regular basis.

    I am expected to work until the job is done. Some weeks that means 40 hours. Some weeks it means 35 and some it means 50 or 60 hours. Sometimes it means coming in at 6 or 7 am to meet with our offices in England and France. Some days it means staying late until 7 or 8pm to meet with our offices in China or Japan. Rarely do these happen on the same day but, if they did and could not be changed, I would be expected to manage this.

    I am, however, given the flexibility to come in late or leave early when needed or to make up for coming in early or staying late. I am also given the option to take these late night and early morning meetings from home. I think the key is to understand what is expected in your field and at your company and determine if that works for you.

  59. Cee - Sports*

    I work in sports PR, so it varies a lot during the season and around big events versus the offseason. Typically it’s 9-6(ish), although if something happens or we’re doing crisis comms, my team will stay into the evening or work in evenings or on weekends to respond. And in the leadup to our championship, everyone is working from 5am-past midnight every day. But during the offseason it’s a lot more laidback – even as the most junior employee I was working some 10-3:30 days or taking long lunches. And in the summer it’s generally understood that you can leave after lunch on Friday or leave early if you’re genuinely done, since it gets so busy in the peak of the season.

    Not everyone likes being “on-call,” but that’s part of the job and I’m fine with it – and while it’s unpredictable, I’ve found the effects on my off time aren’t beyond the pale.

  60. YuliaC*

    I am a salaried technologist in a medical research lab. Work 9:30 to 5:30, but occasionally stay later up to 7-8 pm if there’s an important experiment that has to be finished that day. Staying late is not required, but when I volunteer to do it I get kudos and an informal permission to come in later the next day. Also, occasionally staying late improves my chances of a larger raise come review time.

  61. Cindy*

    I work in HR at a company in the live events space. I typically work 40-45 hours a week, with occasional late nights, weekend work as needed. My employees who travel and work on site at events will work up to 80 hour weeks when supporting an event. But during our slow season when we don’t have any events, hours will be closer to 35 a week and will have a much more lax office environment.

  62. Fabulous*

    I’m not in the financial field anymore, but I once worked in life insurance sales. I was an admin to a top producer for a nationally recognized company, and it was my first (and only) time as a salaried employee.

    There were a few Saturday’s I felt I had to work in order to get everything done on a deadline, or when I was studying to be producer licensed myself (so I could process applications on behalf of the financial advisor) I had to do so on my own time. Generally I worked around 40 hours per week, but that could go up to 50 or so if it was particularly busy or a rushed timeline.

  63. Government Lawyer*

    I’m a lawyer who has always worked in government.

    Federal government: Litigation. Usually regular 40 hours with occasional travel and longer hours for tight deadlines. settlement conferences, depos, and hearings. The nice thing with the federal government was as long as you were in the office for “core hours” and worked 80 hours every 2 weeks, you were good. Another really nice thing was if you went over 80 hours, you could earn extra vacation time for every hour over (you could bank up to 24 hours of this time).

    State government: Litigation. Did it for two years and burned out. There was no ability to earn extra vacation time. I’d work months with back to back hearings every week. I’d spend Sunday-Thursday in another city working 10-15 hour days and be expected to come into the office on Friday or use vacation time.

    I finally looked around, saw all the house counsel people keeping regular hours and I switched to house counsel. My hours are usually 40 per week with occasional long days for day travel. Much, much happier.

  64. EditGirl*

    I work in publishing for a membership association. We get busy twice a year, to get books out for our conferences with schools’ program directors so they can get picked up as textbooks. So there are maybe 3 or 4 months a year where we’re under the gun to get books out; I’m probably working, on average, 9 or 10 hour days for a few weeks in there. Otherwise, we have a 35-hour workweek, which is amazing, and I usually work fairly close to that. Sometimes I have a project come in and I’ll work longer hours, or I just get caught up in something. My core hours are 9:30-5:30, with an hour lunch. I’m exempt.

  65. Aeryn Sun*

    Quick question about this – I normally work around 40-42 hours a week but it can sometimes balloon up to more, depending on how busy we are. Historically I’ve been OK about staying late and just stay late and come in later the next morning or whatever. and I’ve been fine with that. However, recently I was leaving the office after hours and got stuck in the elevator, and because of the late hour it took quite a bit of time to get me out. Since walking up or down the stairs is not really an option (I work near the top of a skyscraper) I’ve been feeling some serious anxiety about staying late. Luckily my workload’s been fairly light since this happened so I don’t need to stay late, but I’m worried about the expectation (since I historically was game for working after hours) for the future. Any advice on how to either make it clearer that I don’t want to stay late or feel uncomfortable?

    1. Gaia*

      We have a policy about being the last person working alone and it is to deal with exactly this and other safety hazards inherent to our work.

      No one is permitted to be alone in our office without having explicit approval from their direct line manager. And their direct line manager has to be available to come to the office if they do not get an “all clear” call or text within 15 minutes of when the person was supposed to have left. We recently had someone get locked in a closet (handle was broken on the inside of the door) and this policy prevented her from being locked in there all weekend.

      It is not at all unreasonable to not want to work late when you’ll be alone. There is a very real safety component.

  66. EddieSherbert*

    Marketing/communications for a software company and salaried exempt.

    Our typical office hours are 8am-5pm and I rarely work over 40 hours. We have 2 big events a year that I expect to be working extra on (one’s a full week and one is a weekend), and we rotate On-Call with our support line, so a couple times a year, I’ll have that for a week.

    And they’re really flexible about it – If I’m On-Call and end up on the phone until 11 at night, I can easily come in a couple hours late the next day (as long as I didn’t have meetings or something!). People who are on “cean up duty” on Sunday evening for one of our events get some leeway on Monday morning… that kind of thing!

    1. Manders*

      I’m in a similar position with similar expectations, although I’m not on call and I don’t need to attend events right now. I do have the option to work from home or stay late if I have to, but there’s no pressure to do it.

      So long as I’m keeping up with my work, there shouldn’t be much that can’t be done the next day. And if anything breaks or an emergency happens, I don’t have much ability to fix it anyway. I like it that way–I can get through a few 12-hour days if there’s a conference or something, but I need time after that to recover and get back up to speed mentally.

  67. caryatis*

    Reading between the lines, this sounds like a relationship question. LW, if you want your husband to change his work schedule, have that conversation with him. But it’s really a matter of balancing what you want with what he wants and what his work expects. This isn’t a question that can be answered by anyone else’s opinion of when you’re “supposed to” work.

    1. WG*

      This is a good point. As an exempt employee, I often choose to go above and beyond and work some extra. But I also have to factor in schedules and expectations within my personal relationships to achieve a balance. My spouse has learned to speak up when he thinks I’m working too much and then we can discuss ways to ensure I get back to a better balance.

  68. NP Admin*

    I work with research projects in higher ed (I’m not a phd) and my schedule can be all over the place. Three out of four weeks I’m clocking typical 8-5 hours, but sometimes projects require travel and event work that starts super early, runs late, or happens on the weekends. I also answer emails and texts at all hours of the day and on my days off. I try to adjust my hours in the office so I am only working 40 hours a week, but leadership in my org easily works 80 hours a week and does not have the phrase “work/life” balance in their lexicon so it does not always work out. I think this is true for a lot of people in higher ed in general. There are good and bad things about working in a more flexible environment, but it is really not an environment that is friendly to single-parent households or families with inflexible childcare, which is really crappy imo.

  69. Hermione Lovegood*

    Quality Assurance Rep for an animal food manufacturing facility. My typical hours are 0730-1600, with a 30-minute lunch, but I frequently work until 1630 to finish up. However, I have flexibility around doctor appointments and other things that pop up. Our site runs 24/7, so I’m expected to be available to answer any urgent questions, but those are few and far between. The larger company has a core-hour policy that says we must (with a few exceptions) be working from 0900-1500. So you can start at 0600, take an hour for lunch, and leave at 1500, or you can start at 0900, take 30 minutes for lunch, and leave at 1730, or anywhere in between.

    For me personally, I rarely work more than 40-45 hours in a week. If there’s an upcoming audit and during the audit, I may work until 5 or 6, but again, that’s not typical.

  70. Mike C.*

    Something important for the OP to consider is how often emergencies happen and if there are any ways to prepare, anticipate or even prevent them from happening in the first place. Of course, emergencies happen from time to time, but if they’re happening all the time then something needs to change.

    1. De Minimis*

      Related to this is something that really annoys me….when you give your boss something to review at 1 PM and they don’t start looking at it until late in the day and come to you at 5 with revisions.

  71. kcat*

    I work making educational websites at a university and I’m right at 40 hours a week. When we have an event or something I might go a tad over, and once I worked a 60 hour week when everything broke at the same time.

    My dad was a manager at a manufacturing plant growing up, and often worked 60-65 hour weeks, working 9-10 hour days AND going in on Saturdays and Sundays. I’ve looked for jobs where I would never, ever have to do that. (he also had a 1-2 hour commute each way, I barely saw him)

  72. Amber T*

    Back office of a finance firm. I typically clock in 9-10 hours a day, sometimes more (my record is 12 hours in one day, but that was an extreme circumstance). But I also have a lot of flexibility… need to step out of a doctor’s appointment? Sure. Need to leave at 4 for something? Sure. Waiting for Verizon in the random 4-6 hour window? Work from home. (This is without using paid time off.) Total compensation is very good, and the flexibility is super helpful. I also live very close to work, which helps immensely – I think I’d be unhappy if I still had to commute an hour or so each way.

  73. alanna granger*

    Media (editor at an online publication). I’m usually in the office from about 9:30-6, which isn’t bad! But then you factor in the hour or so of email reading and story planning that starts around 8 am and continues into my commute, and the evening work that is needed more often than not these days, and the occasional weekend… Journalism is one of those fields where long, unpredictable hours are just a fact of life, and the past year+ has been particularly grueling for fairly obvious reasons.

    1. Catty Hack*

      Fellow journo here. I think it’s one of those professions with a horrendous ability to ‘seep’ time. My office hours at my current publication can’t be any more than 45 a week on average (although, according to my contract, I’m doing 40!). But then there’s the emails (just so many emails!!) which probably bump it past 50 hours and, if your editor wants you to cover a breakfast or evening event, it’s an unwritten rule that you’ll be saying ‘yes’ unless you have a very good reason for saying ‘no’.

  74. urban planner*

    I work for a regional government agency, so the official expectations are for a 37.5 hour week. Some people never work a single extra hour, but many people routinely work closer to 50 hours a week, between evening community meetings and working to meet deadlines for reports and planning documents. I usually come in between 9 and 9:30 and work until 6:30, with occasional very late nights (earlier this week I worked until midnight). My boss has young children and has a pretty strict office schedule of 8:30-4:30, but often sends emails after 11 pm or before 6 am when his kids are asleep. Others come in at 7 and leave by 3. Most people in the office take advantage of a “compressed” schedule option, in which you fit in 75 hours over 9 days of work and take the 10th day as an extra day off, which is a nice perk, since many of us work those extra hours anyways. The unofficial expectation is that if something critical comes up on your compressed day (an important meeting, a deadline, etc) you come in or do some work from home.

  75. Purplesaurus*

    Government Contract:
    I worked a pretty strict 40 hour work week because we were billing those hours toward specific projects, and the building itself had to be closed down after 8 pm. But you could flex your time anywhere between 6 am – 8 pm.

    Healthcare (non-clinical role):
    Mostly 40-45 hours. I’ve probably pulled 50-60 on a few occasions during particularly busy times, and during a months-long stint of being the only person in my role. But those instances are pretty rare. And people can work 7 am – whenever, but generally people leave no later than 6 pm.

  76. JenB*

    I’m a UX designer at a small web design agency (35 people). At the lower and mid levels, I worked consistently exactly 40 hours a week. Now that I’m at the senior level I work 40-50 depending on how busy we are at the moment. I very rarely work weekends, but sometimes I have to work through lunch or come in a bit early to meet a deadline. It seems to be about the same for all of our designers and developers. Our account managers seem to work about 40 hours a week consistently. Our project managers work closer to 45-50, and I sometimes see them working on weekends.

    It would be strongly frowned upon if I walked out at 6pm with something important undone or a deadline missed. If a serious problem came up at 9pm, I would be expected to make an effort to address it that night (though this rarely happens – advertising isn’t a life or death industry). After 10pm, I probably wouldn’t be expected to respond.

    (related terms for people searching the page: web designer, web developer, UX/UI)

  77. MsMaryMary*

    Professional services (but not law or accounting).

    At OldJob I regularly worked 60 hours per week, busy period were closer to 70-80. That was a major reason I left that job.

    Currently, I work a fairly regular 9-5 schedule, but I am expected to be flexible as needed for clients. We sometimes interact with our clients’ employees, and I need to be at employee meetings that can happen when those employees are coming off shift. I’ve done meetings at 6am and at 9pm. I personally haven’t done weekend meetings yet, but I probably will this fall. My job has a lot of local travel and some out of state, so sometimes my meeting might not be until 10am but I need to leave the house at 5am to get there. On the flip side, sometimes if a meeting ends around 4, I’ll just go home instead of going to the office.

    Generally I can expect to leave work at the same time every day, but if something last minute comes up I need to stay to resolve it. During our busy time of year, I may stay in the office until 7 or 8 to get caught up. I could log in later at home or on the weekend, but my personal prefernece is to power through at the office and relax at home.

  78. cranky about hours*

    Commenting mostly so I can complain- our company doesn’t like a lot of OT for hourly people so they’re capped at 40 but occasionally work more. Salaried employees must work a minimum of 45 hours -_- I don’t love it.

    1. Spargle*

      I once worked at a place that had salary, salary+45, salary+50, salary+55. Mandatory 5-15 hours overtime every week. It was so weird.

  79. MidwestRoads*

    Legal assistant at a small firm. My working hours are 8am-5pm, with 12-1 for lunch. I am expected to be at my desk ready to work at 8am, and I rarely stay past 5pm: I hate leaving things half-done, but I wouldn’t start an hour-long project at 4:45 either.

    Contrast this to my previous job as an editor, where I worked 8:30ish to 5:30ish…basically, if you were working 8 hours a day and within the ballpark of “business hours” AND got your work done, you could set your own hours. Some people worked 9-6, some worked 7:30-4:30.

  80. OldJules*

    HR in a distribution company

    On a good week, I average 40, on a normal week 45, on high time I can hit 60 hours easy.

    I am glad someone asked. I am in a situation where I feel bad when I have to steal an hour or 2 for doctor’s appointments and so I always make sure that I hit a minimum of 40 by flexing my time. But when I worked my 60, it’s not like I get back those 20 hours from somewhere.

    1. HR Expat*

      I also work in distribution. My work week averages around 45-50 hours, usually 9am-6pm during the day and a couple of nights of work per week. On a slow week, I might get away with my contractual 37.5 hours. During busy times of the year (performance/merit reviews, engagement surveys, misc projects) I might work 60 per week. I remember an awful time during a new system implementation where I was working from 7am-10pm 6 days a week for about 6 months.

      My philosophy is I’ll never have the “job done,” so I manage my workload to be sure no one is going to yell at me the next day if I didn’t get something done that they needed.

  81. LSP*

    I’m a project manager with a federal contracting firm. I can almost always get all of my work done within 40-45 hours a week. In the cases where I can’t, I’ll take my laptop home and finish in the evening.

    My manager often works well over 40 hours a week (I’d estimate at least 50 and sometimes closer to 65 hours a week), but we are short-staffed and she is working on more projects than one person can work on within a normal work-week, plus corporate-level stuff.

    We are both salaried, and for the most part our employer does a good job at letting us be flexible with our time, use comp time reasonably (like if I work 12 hours one day, I can drop off early the next day without a problem, as long as my work is done), and encourages a work-life balance.

  82. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

    I’m an academic advisor at a large state university. I typically work exactly 40 hours a week, but there are a few times per year that are particularly busy (summer orientation, for example). I usually end up staying late pretty frequently during those times. Also, occasionally a student will come by my office with a crisis that needs to be dealt with, even if it’s 4:55 on a Friday afternoon. In those cases, I stay with the student until I know the situation is in hand. But fortunately, that doesn’t happen all that often!

  83. Venus Supreme*

    Grant writer for a medium-size nonprofit arts company here. It’s typically 40hrs/week for me, but when the season starts (September – May) it’ll be more than that with special events: opening nights and gala. That’s when we’re expected to be all-hands-on-deck and maybe even work some Saturdays.

    Aside from special events, I can fit all my work into a 40hr workweek.

    1. Venus Supreme*

      I also want to note that this is pretty uncommon in my company. The higher-ups usually come in at 7:30AM and leave at around 8PM. I’m just very, very diligent that work time is work time and home time is time with my family. Then, when we have a fundraising night, I clear that evening for it to be all about work. It’s noticeable here that people see their coworkers as family and will bring work home with them, just like they will bring personal issues into the workspace (I had to listen to a young female coworker find a roommate and our ED was suggesting other single women -young and old!- in the company to ask to room with)

  84. LS*

    I (and most of my colleagues) work a 37.5-40 hour week. My team lead works closer to a 50 hour week. We work in UX (product design / user experience) for a large bank. That’s been the norm for most of my career, although it’s expected that you’ll work overtime if there’s a crisis.

    Once, long ago, when I had a deadline, I arrived at work around 8am and left the next day at 2:30pm. But that was definitely Not Normal.

  85. Lulabelle*

    I usually stay as the business requires. Sometimes it means going out of your normal hours to get a task done.

  86. LizM*

    I work in government, so I earn comp time if I go over 40 hours in a week. I typically don’t, but during crunch time, I’ll hit 50 or 60 hours.

    I just want to address OP’s comment on Cory’s boss coming in late. She says Cory doesn’t feel like he can leave. I think it would be reasonable to talk to his boss directly about his expected hours. It’s not clear to me that boss has approved Cory’s 8-5 schedule, or that boss understands that his 1:30-10 schedule is impacting Cory’s preferred hours. If the expectation really is that Cory needs to regularly stay until 6, he may need to shift his morning routine and go in later. I used to have a boss who would go to the grocery store and run errands in the morning, and come in at 9:30, because she knew with her boss’s schedule, she’d regularly get tasks at 2:30 in the afternoon that had to be completed that day. If she had her way, she’d work 7-3:30, but she knew if she got there at 7, she’d be there until 6 anyway, and not have time to do her daily errands. In my experience, in non-hourly positions, supervisors are often oblivious to their employees’ schedules as long as the work is being done and employees are available during core hours, and they count on their employees to raise conflicts.

    I may be wrong, and Cory’s boss may be expecting 12 hour days out of him, but it’s worth a conversation.

    1. LizM*

      Oh, and my schedule is M-Th – 7:30-5, and Fridays are 7:30-4 with every other Friday off. I have a half hour lunch.

    2. Rachel Green*

      I agree. The info missing from the letter is whether or not Cory has talked to his boss about his work schedule and what his boss’s expectations are.

  87. Tim C.*

    The OP could have been my wife writing this letter a few years back. In a prior job I was middle management and was expected to work till the job was finished. I put in up to 60 hours a week and seldom to never took any of the time back because the job was never done. I had hourly staff making more than I because they collected overtime yet I put in more hours. I suffered horrible burn out and learned a lesson. This was a big factor in me moving to my current position. In my opinion middle management gets the poorest deal as they have all responsibility and few benefits. I feel for your husband.

    I am now a specialist in hospital pharmacy. I am still salaried but only work ~ 45 hours a week. I have given my current employer notice I am willing to soldier on only so far and then I will begin looking for something else. You only live once, don’t blow it at work.

    1. Original Poster*

      Oh I’m sorry, that does sound tough. My husband doesn’t make overtime obviously, but he does benefit financially when say, the company makes a big sale. So there is more incentive for him than with you in that situation where your staff was making more than you. Glad you’ve moved on and have identified your priorities.

  88. I'd rather be blue*

    Non-profit arts company. I work in Marketing/Communications at the specialist level. I typically work 40 hours per week, except during production times, then all bets are off. I work a lot of evening events, weekends, etc. During the busiest times, it’s not unrealistic to clock in 12-14 hour days. However, we’re encouraged to try to balance it out when we can (taking a half day, leaving early, coming in later).

    Regarding the situation above, I also live about 10 minutes away from work and I’ve done that exact thing on several occasions. I’m also the closest employee with an office key, so I’m often asked to run in to lock up or open the office. Yeah, it can be a bit annoying, but it’s not unexpected and I let them know if I’m not available to do something up front.

  89. Scully*

    All of these comments depress me.

    I know it’s the reality of work, but sheesh. I want to live my life, not work my life away.

    1. Original Poster*

      Ha, yes this is very eye opening!

      I have no issues with working more hours than usual when it’s needed (me at my job or the husband at his job). Just curious how to separate work life and home life in that case when you’re doing things like answering client calls at home.

      1. CM*

        I think it’s tricky. You have to really make an effort to not constantly be attached to your devices and to be fully present with your family. I actually check my work email when I’m in the bathroom… that way my kids don’t see me on my phone. And you also have to set boundaries at work to the extent possible. Like if you’re asked to work late, but the work just needs to be done before the next morning and not specifically during dinnertime, you can say, “I’m planning to pick up the kids and have dinner with my family, and then I’ll be back online around 8 p.m. and should finish this by 11.” If your workplace is reasonably flexible, as long as you communicate clearly and get your work done it’s usually fine. For you as the spouse, I think it’s a balance between being patient with work sometimes taking precedence, and talking to your husband if you feel like he’s letting work take over your home life.

    2. Anon for Sure*

      The hours aren’t always bad though if you like your job and your work. I work far more than 40 hours many weeks, and I typically don’t mind, because my job, while not perfect, is pretty damn awesome.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      It’s not all bad. I have a 35-hour week on flex hours.

      I do not miss the schedules I used to work in journalism.

      1. caledonia*

        @ramona – but you are in the UK/Europe (as am I). It really does seem to be prevalent in the US to have longer working hours.

        1. Scully*

          This. I just got back from vacation and it’s always amazing/a sad reminder of how much better people in other countries live their lives. Yes, yes, America, freedoms, oorah, eagle emoji, and all of that, etc etc.

        2. Purple snowdrop*

          Yeah I’ve never had a standard work week longer than 37 hours. I could apparently never work in the US!

        3. HR Expat*

          I think it depends on the person and role as well though. I work in the UK with a standard contract of 37.5 hours and so do all my employees. Yet my finance leaders, managers and a lot of employees are working more than their contractual hours without any financial. They care about their work and supporting our customers. I also have a lot of employees who will not work a minute beyond their contractual hours, even if the building is burning down and they’re the only one who knows how to put out the fire.

    4. Becky*

      I think it depends on the balance you need for your life. I posted elsewhere in the thread, but my pay, benefits, and flexible work from home options make up for the hours I put in. I’m also not looking to be married or have children, I’m not the primary caretaking option for my parents (although I help out whenever I’m home), my roommate pays less in rent and bills in exchange for doing the majority of our cleaning, and with (rare, travel-based exceptions) I can make my standing Saturday evening plans with my friends.

      Would this job work for everyone? Oh hell no. As I said in my job post, 78% of candidates self-select out when they hear what the job requires. It works *for me* and for *my needs*, and that’s what matters.

    5. Purple snowdrop*

      Tickles me that you say that considering your username. Scully worked pretty hard :)

      1. Scully*

        Well, if my job was proving the existence of extraterrestrials and bringing down a shadowy government that conspired with said aliens to end civilization, then I for sure wouldn’t be complaining about my hours.

        Creating PowerPoint presentations is not as exciting.

  90. Nicki Name*

    Software engineer here. Typical expectations are 40 or so hours per week, coming in at roughly the same time every weekday. There’s usually a lot of flexibility on when that time is; the most important part is that your co-workers can reliably know when you’ll be available.

    Urgent situations can arise where the people who can fix it need to stick around until it’s fixed. Part of the process for tracking incidents is to make an explicit determination of whether the problem is severe enough that we need to work into the night to fix it. There are also occasional late evenings due to deadlines or the process of performing a major release. Between all this, I’ve been late home anywhere from about once a week (at a terrible company that didn’t function well) to once every month or two.

    In return, workplaces tend to be relaxed about occasionally taking an hour or two away from your usual workday for appointments, family logistical issues, etc.

    In my experience, weekend work is unusual enough at established companies that it’s explicitly tracked so that equivalent time can be taken off later. In a startup culture, it may be considered a normal part of the job (along with much longer hours in general).

  91. Christina*

    I work for a small non-profit running a cooking school and doing a majority of org communications, and I work around 45-50 hours/week.

    Some weeks are nuts, or if we have a big event, a 12-14 hour day or 60+ hour week happens. 10-12 hour days aren’t uncommon, but I make my own schedule for the most part, which includes at least 4 evenings and usually half a weekend day a month. If I have an evening class, I usually try to start later or sign off early the next day.

    I’m pretty ok with this schedule, since I also get to work from home unless I have a class or meeting. I’ve also had to be pretty clear about setting boundaries for what hours I’m available and when I’m not, so I don’t respond to texts and things at night (unless it’s a true emergency). There’s no reason for my org to be available 24/7, and I’m trying to change that expectation.

  92. LadyMountaineer*

    I am a Data Architect for a mid-sized regional specialty medical facility. I work 40 hours a week with more time mixed in if there’s a need to pull data RIGHT MEOW. (I’m a data jack-of-all-trades so I sometimes do data science with Python or analysis in Tableau, sometimes DBA-ish configuring, mostly data modeling and ETL scripts.) I used to work in local government where the official expectation was 40 hours a week and you could not flex time out (e.g. if I stayed until 2AM during a deployment I would be expected to come in the next day to work a full day unless I used PTO) whereas here they are a little more flexible.

    I was annoyed at first because I received a revoked promise (6 weeks vacation in exchange for a lower salary) but my boss has told me that if I work one hour then I do not need to use any PTO. I am happy with that outcome. I do work a lot of Saturdays but that’s mainly because I love my job and want to use a day/week to do something harebrained like training a Natural Language Processing model to predict severe cases of a specific disease from physician notes or somesuch but I have to say the work/life balance I have been afforded has been amazing and I am really happy I made the change in sectors. (Mainly because I am a morning person and want to be asleep from 9PM to 4AM and there are no midnight deployments here. :))

  93. Becky*

    I’m a Technical Writer for a software company whose main client base is in the Department of Defense (DoD). I’ve worked at other software companies in the Recruiting world and the Financial world. It seems common in the software industry to work a 9-ish hour day with an hour’s worth of accumulated breaks during it, and to have generally flexible start and end times (i.e. arrive anywhere between 8:00 – 10:30 a.m., leave between 5:00 – 7:30 p.m.). It also seems common to be able to take an hour or two during the day for an appointment without taking PTO, as long as you make up the hours. It’s also common to be “on-call” 24/7, with people answering e-mail late into the night and on weekends; however, if you don’t do this it’s not a big deal – in a true emergency you’ll get a text or phone call. It also seems common to be able to work remotely when necessary, and when employees work from home they tend to do a longer day – roughly 12 hours – broken up by appointments, house chores, etc.

    Around crunch time – usually the two weeks before a deadline – all of this goes out the window. In my experience, companies that are fairly young (less than 5 years in the business) tend to expect an all-hands effort. You work 18-20 hour days, sleep on a couch in the office if you live further than 15 minutes away, have all your meals bought by the company, and are in constant emergency triage mode until the software is released on deadline day. Also in my experience, companies that have been in business longer (more than 5 years in the business) also expect an all-hands effort, but tend to plan for crunch time a bit better. Most expect 12-14 hour days, broken between home and the office, with an expectation that you will check e-mail until you go to bed and as soon as you get up.

    Specifically to software for the DoD, my hours tend to be all over the place. Our clients are reactive to certain situations, so all plans can go out the window if something urgent comes up. I’ve taken conference calls at 2:00 a.m. because local time was 8:00 a.m., and was allowed to come in at noon the next day to make up for it. I’ve gotten on planes on less than 6 hours notice to assist coworkers with an issue that required careful documentation (this happens frequently enough that I have a go-bag packed and under my desk at work). I’ve worked 17 days straight, including weekends, with 12-hour days as the norm to support client work. My company makes up for this with bonus PTO days (1 per each weekend you work). As a result of this environment, most of our workforce doesn’t have children, are single or have very understanding spouses who work in similar fields, and have the job as their number one priority in life. We make all these things very clear to job candidates, and something like 78% self-select out of the process.

    Oh, and this doesn’t touch the Games industry – video game companies are basically permanent crunch time, from what friends in that software industry explain.

    1. Original Poster*

      Very interesting. He is at a company that is less than five years old, and he too takes client calls at home sometimes because of time differences (we’re on the east coast so 5pm comes sooner here than in California, for instance.)

      1. Becky*

        Oof, yes, I can see the need to take client calls at home as a result of this. I, too, am on the east coast, and we support clients (and coworkers) on the west coast. We tend to do end-of-day wrap up calls (usually 20 minutes), but I usually take them at home, because a 6:00 p.m. end of day out there is 9:00 p.m. here.

        I’ve had to draw a line in the sand with my manager about certain expectations – for example, he works all of his waking hours (and his wife does the same). I refuse to work after I leave the office unless we are on deadline, I have a scheduled call, or an emergency pops up. We had to have a candid conversation around this, which has led to him texting or calling me if there is a true emergency, and otherwise not expecting a reply until the following morning / Monday. I was able to have that conversation and set expectations accordingly because a) he is a reasonable human, b) he recognizes that he is a workaholic and not everyone is, and c) I had a solid, established reputation to work from. If your husband has a solid reputation with his manager, then he can push back in a similar way, especially around days when his manager is arriving late and he needs to work with the manager on something.

        I also don’t have a spouse in this equation. I have a long-term partner, but we don’t live together and they work second shift (3:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.) so days I work longer hours or weeks when I travel last-minute are less of an issue. Through watching my married coworkers, I’ve learned that marital happiness in our field stems from constant communication about shifting times and deadlines with their spouse, as well as using flexibility to their advantage. Just overhead my deskmate saying this to his fiancee: “Hey, I’m trying to wrap up A Thing tonight, so I’ll be leaving at 6:00 instead of 5:00. I can make up for it by leaving at 4:00 on Thursday or going in at 10:00 tomorrow. Is that okay?” He just e-mailed the team to let us know he’ll be in later than usual tomorrow, so I think they reached an agreement.

      2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        I worked in an international firm with offices in Central Europe, the UK, the North American East Coast and US West Coast. In a perfect world, everyone would have been able to schedule calls for the 1 hour per day we were all available. We do not live in that world. If I had an early call in the morning or late call in the evening, I would take them at home my management was very accommodating about adjusting time in the office that day. That said, I was a Director and VP, so I was regularly working 50-60 hours per week.

        BTW, this doesn’t improve as you rise up the corporate ladder. Our CEO and management committee had early or late calls almost every workday.

    2. many bells down*

      Mr. Bells is a game programmer and, while it is true that the industry has a terrible reputation for crunch time, the better companies are moving away from it. 10 years ago, all his co-workers were young, mostly-single guys. Now he works with people his age (41) many of whom are married with kids. There were many times where he had to work 70 hour weeks, or be at work over a full 24 hours – he’s slept in his office before.

      These days his “crunch” time has been maybe an extra 5-10 hours in a week about once a year. A small indie company might still have massively long weeks, and you might need to make a push before a big release, but established companies have begun to realize that they can’t keep an experienced team by working them to death.

  94. Justin*

    Work on the blurred line between academia and gov’t. Essentially, am an employee of a large public university that works in a city gov’t office.

    I’m salaried and a “long” day here is a few minutes over 7 hours (plus 1 hour lunch). If I make an appointment for after work and thus just sit at my desk after 5:30 or so, the managers are like… “so, you leaving soon or what’s up?” Unlike my last job at a nonprofit where there was a bit of a “who can be the SUPERHERO and not sleep” culture, plus my schedule kept changing and my duties weren’t clear etc. (#notallnonprofits, I know)

    Anyway, so I work almost exactly 35 hours a week (again, plus lunches, so I’m in the office for 40), we have flex time (you have to be in by 10, and then you have to leave 8 hours later), and great balance.

    My parents (who weren’t together) always worked crazy hours, and usually got home at 7:30 or 8 unless there was a work dinner, in which case it was sometimes after I was asleep (or usually waiting up for them in bed because I missed them). They sure did make a lot more money than I do to this point in my life. And I’d like to someday buy a house like the house my mom bought… but I like this balance. Of course, I don’t have any kids to make money to support yet, so, maybe I’ll do the crazy hours thing to send them to the schools I went to. Or maybe I can become a unicorn and find a way to do that while being home often.

    1. Justin*

      Oh, I’m an employee trainer (if you’re wondering what I actually do). I train said gov’t employees on systems, processes and best practices.

  95. Children's Librarian Als*

    I’m a public librarian and I rarely go over 40 in a week. I do flex some time if it looks like I have a conference or after-hours outreach event or something that will work outside my normal schedule (8-5 most days, one evening shift per week, usually one Saturday a month).

  96. State Government*

    I work as an analyst for my state, and it’s always exactly 40 hours a week… unless there’s a software update that requires me to stay late, or we’re especially busy and I need to stay late to stay on top of things. This happens about 4-6 times a year. I’m salaried but not exempt, so any hours I work over 40 are given to me in the form of comp time to take later. I actually really like the set-up, because we’re encouraged to use our vacation time, and I like getting an extra day or two a year.

    Managers and Supervisors are exempt, and they mostly try to keep to 45-50 — more so when it’s extra-busy. We had one doing 60 hour weeks during a particularly crazy stretch, but we knew that was unsustainable in the long term and tried to get some vacant positions filled to make sustainable again. It’s not uncommon for managers and supervisors to come in early or stay late to get their actual desk job stuff done while they’re stuck in meetings during office hours.

  97. Quinalla*

    I’m an MEP engineer (work with architects, structural, civil, etc. to design the guts of buildings) and am exempt, some firms operate non-exempt, but they are the exception. I’m expected to work 40-45 without complaint and work 50 or sometimes more on occasion if we have a lot of work or if a crisis pops up. There is also some travel expected and for travel days, 10+ hours counting travel time is totally normal, so in a week with a lot of travel days, sometimes you can easily be over 50 counting travel time especially if flights are involved.

    At the 2 firms I’ve worked with, if folks had a high hour week, my bosses would give us a half day or full day off to compensate for that. They also shared the firm’s profits by giving bonuses and those who worked harder got more of a bonus than others.

    And I had a similar situation to the LW a few times where someone locked themselves out of the office and I was called to see if I could get in and unlock the door for them. If I hadn’t been available, no problem, but since I was I did drive back into work at various times in the evening (never later than 9pm in my case) to let people in. I also had occasional nights where I stayed quite late or got up early to go in early or worked from home morning or night, but I also have the flexibility to come in late and leave early sometimes and unless it is a true emergency, I do leave by 5pm everyday to pick up my kids. When I have extra work, I come in early or log on at night later and everyone is ok with that.

  98. Ramona Flowers*

    I work for a non-profit, I have a 35-hour working week and that’s on flex time – I can vary my start and finish times and can get anything over 35 hours another time, either by doing shorter days or booking comp time. So I never really do extra hours, just vary my schedule here and there.

    My husband works in the music industry as road and stage crew. He doesn’t really have set hours and stays until the job is done. Whether it’s a brokendown tour bus or a long drive back or the band wanting to stay and hang out he can’t just clock out and go home – it takes as long as it takes. He loves it though.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      As to the delivery driver situ it surely would have made sense to wait at home and have the driver call on arrival rather than going back and forth?

  99. Association Professional*

    I work for a professional membership association as a mid-level manager, and when it’s slower I average about 45-50 hours a week, and when it’s busier it creeps up closer to 55-60 hours. Those are during weeks that I don’t travel. Weeks that I travel, then my hours range from 70-110 hours (counting travel time, which I do!).

  100. Kalamet*

    I’m in software development. At my company, I rarely work over 40 hours a week. I have deployments that require several hours over a weekend night every few months. I’m very particular about my work hours and time off, and I rarely work extra unless it’s an emergency. My manager is cool with that, because I get everything done.

    OP, it sounds like you and your husband might have different ideas about what is acceptable here. Maybe it’s time for a conversation about his job and how much time he spends working. I’d also recommend getting clarity from the boss about expectations, if he hasn’t already.

    1. Original Poster*

      It has already gotten better since I wrote in to Alison – he’s had to take the baby when daycare was closed and things like that, and he was able to leave work on time no problem. It’s a good trade off for having to work late sometimes and work from home some evenings. I just thought it would be helpful/interesting to hear what other people’s norms are and how they handle that kind of stuff.

  101. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    I am a coordinator for a University special program. I am salaried specifically for 40 hours a week. If I go over that, I am supposed to make advance arrangements with HR and my dean, which honestly includes a huge lecture from HR on not working extra. But we have weekend activities and evening activities that I must attend, so my dean is really awesome about just doing a wink, wink, nudge, nudge for informal time off. If I work all day Saturday for an event, he’ll have me take a day off the next week or save it if I want. Honestly, he trusts me to handle my time and doesn’t much care as long as things are getting done.

  102. mskyle*

    I’m a software developer, and I probably average 35 hours a week but sometimes it’s more like 30, sometimes more like 40. Very, very rarely more than 40, like maybe if we have an important feature release/bugfix *and* someone’s on vacation. I sometimes need to check in on things in the evenings/on weekends, and I do sometimes do work on weekends at my discretion.

  103. Web Developer*

    Developer for a small software contractor in the US. I work about 40 hours a week (sometimes a little over, sometimes a little under). Some folks at my workplace to work 45-50 hours, but it’s not an obligation.

    In programming/software development, it really, really depends on what sort of work you’re doing and what company you’re working for. I previously worked as an in-house developer for a manufacturing company, and while there was the odd week I’d work longer, we basically never were expected to work over 40 hours. But in some parts of the software world, such as the game industry, 60+ hour weeks are normal. (they shouldn’t be, mind you, but they are)

    1. Web Developer*

      I should add, at OldJob where I worked in-house, we occasionally had to do weekend deployments or have evening meetings with different timezones, but usually would take off early or come in late some other time that week to make up for it. At my current job, if you’re working on a weekend or in the evening, it’s only because you want to.

  104. LawBee*

    Attorney. I generally have a 40-45 hour work week, sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more. We don’t have billables (thank god, they’re the worst thing the legal field ever did to itself) and we’re in a pretty niche field. When I’m traveling, a 12-14 hour day is the norm. On the flip side, I don’t have set hours as long as the work gets done. I’m usually in the office by 9:30, but if it’s later, it doesn’t matter – I’ll stay later and probably take a working lunch, but I don’t have a 8:30-5:30 set schedule. It works well for me because my brain doesn’t really get sharp until about 1pm, so I can spend my morning getting ready for what I need to do in the afternoon. I also refuse to work from home, so if that means I’m in the office until 9pm, then so be it. I love my job, but work stays at work.

    I would absolutely hate my life if I had to bill 3000 hours a year. There isn’t enough money in the world that would make up for that lack of balance. (For non-attorneys, if you’re billing 3000 hours, you’re working 3500, 3700. Math it out. It’s evil.)

    1. LawBee*

      ETA: I also often swing by the office after church on Sundays to knock out some easy things. It’s never more than a couple of hours, though.

  105. GRH*

    Development and communications for a small nonprofit, but we don’t do any advocacy work so it’s not the sort of communications where I need to be available to respond to crises or speak to the press. I work 35-40 hours with some flexibility around our 9-5 office hours (e.g. during the summer I tend to wake up early, so I’ve been coming in at 8 and leaving around 4). I can also work remotely. I do work a handful of 10-12+ hour days for fundraisers, evening meetings, or retreats, but not more than a dozen times a year.

  106. Communications Anon*

    I’m in communications for a non-profit. I generally work in the office 9-5 Mon-Fri, but frequently check and respond to email and post on social media before and after work and on weekends as needed. My company is also very flexible so I can come in late/leave early or work from home as needed. Occasionally, throughout the year, I may need to work weekends for a conference or stay in the office until 6pm or so, but I’ve never stayed later than that.

  107. It Sounds So Confusing*

    Given that it apparently varies a lot, how does an employee figure out what is expected/acceptable in their specific workplace? Can one simply ask one’s boss “Is it okay if I take leave early/come in late since I worked late earlier?” or would that look bad?

    1. Rachel*

      If you can’t read the culture, ask once. Ask when it comes up, not before you need, and say it professionally. “I don’t really know how it works here, is it generally accepted to flex out some comp time? I stayed until 8 last week to put out that fire, could I come in at noon this Wednesday?” If your boss says no I wouldn’t push it. Also, as a manager I’d find it irritating if it was for every little 10 minutes.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, and would ask.

      My current job is WAY more flexible than my previous one, and the first 6 months I was constantly asking my manager stuff like “can I leave an hour early for X on Tuesday?” and she ALWAYS responded “Is it on the calendar? Then you’re fine.”

      So maybe she thought I was annoying (haha), but she was super nice about it and never made me feel weird for asking.

      After a while I caught on that I could kind of manage my own schedule (becoming friends with a few coworkers who are senior to me also helped me catch on faster to culture stuff too).

      1. EddieSherbert*

        (well, not constantly, that’d be odd, but probably the first 5-6 times I had something come up – so like once a month?)

    3. Murphy*

      I think it’s fine to just ask about the policy in general once and then just let your boss know whenever you’re doing it.

      When I started here, I asked my supervisor how we do things (my previous job had been very strict about come and go times), and she said they were flexible and I could manage my own hours. When I switched managers, I let him know the hours that I usually worked and confirmed that they were OK. Now I just tell him when I’ll be coming in late/leaving early and he always just says ok.

  108. sheepla*

    Lawyer at a mid size regional law firm here (200+ attorneys). I work about 60 hours a week on average. I can basically make my own schedule, but am expected to take calls and answer emails whenever they come (evenings, weekends, etc.). Doesn’t bother me as that’s the trade-off for a fully flexible schedule.

  109. Lora*

    Pharma/bioengineer. I work the hours typical for my field: 40-50 hours if I’m just running discovery/development experiments, because I can set those to behave how I want them, but 50-60 hours if we are doing work to support a filing or a major production campaign with unusual changes to the process. However, those 50-60 hours are very “however long it takes, is how long it takes” so if it takes 20 hours to make a molecule, fire up the coffeemaker. We get surprises that make our work a bit unpredictable, that’s sort of the point of development. But once the process is finished, we go home and have a long sleep and come in whenever the next day.

  110. Doc C*

    I am a physical therapist, but worked for a professional education company in my field for a while as a salaried employee. There were stretches where I would be traveling for them 15-20 days out of a month, so when I was in the office on weekdays I kept closer to a typical 40 hour schedule. With the amount of travel, that usually included at least one weekend day for each trip I thought was a reasonable balance – especially considering my boss expected me to be “productively working” while flying, in airports, and at my hotel AND not miss any weekdays in the office even if I had been working all weekend. Ultimately, it did not work. My boss was not pleased that I tried to manage my hours so that I still had some work-life balance yet could not define any work volume type goals/guidelines to help me figure out just how much he wanted me to accomplish in an office day. The best I could determine was that my boss (who was the owner) wanted me working the same 7am-11pm type of routine that he did. It was pretty brutal. Fortunately I got married and moved away before I could get fired.

  111. Rachel*

    Manager of a public library location. We are open until 10-9 and open 7 days a week. If the alarm goes off in the middle of the night, I’m coming up here. If we are short and need coverage, I’m coming up here. That said, I don’t work more than 40 hours a week. If I have to, I take time off as soon as is reasonable to do so. So if I come in on Saturday to cover someone’s shift, I’m not coming in the following Tuesday (or whenever is workable).

  112. Ginger*

    I’m a copy editor for an ad agency. 40-hour work weeks are the norm (thankfully) but sometimes clients have last minute changes that necessitate overtime but I can usually do that from home since all of our products are digital.

  113. Zuppa da Clams*

    Spa Manager over here-now I work in the spa industry and it’s more relaxed than when I managed clothing or more typical retail, but more detail oriented. I work about 50 to 70 hours a week depending on the season, holiday weekend, if I have any staffing crises (which I am currently experiencing, because massage therapists can be melodramatic and flaky and I typically hire ages 18 to 25 for hospitality/sales and they become especially flighty in the summer.)
    When I worked clothing, I would work more than 70 hours a week easily, especially during big season changes and holidays.

  114. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    I’m salaried, but non-exempt meaning I still get OT. I work in a manufacturing plant but in the finance department. Very few people work more than 40 hours a week, and all of those people are very high level. I’ve only worked more than 40 hours a handful of times in the year and half I’ve been here.

    My last job was also salaried non-exempt and OT was the rule. It was generally 60 hour weeks and the hours we worked were mostly up to us, but we had non-negotiable deadlines that had to be met so sometimes that meant working until midnight (after coming in at 8 or earlier in the morning).

  115. Program Coordinator, Research Institute at a Pediatric Teaching Hospital*

    I’m salaried and work for a pediatric teaching hospital that prides itself on work-life balance and flexibility, so my hours are short (35, 40 if I work through lunch, which I usually do) and flexible by most standards–members of my team work 7-3 or 8-4; I do 9-5 and sometimes 10:30-6:30 if we have early evening programming going. It’s rare that I take work home, and I’m absolutely not expected to be available once I’ve left the building. We’re super busy, but we structure our work so that if we can’t get projects and programming done in 35 hours a week, we don’t do them. I’m on a compressed summer schedule atm where I work 70 hours in 9 days and get alternate Fridays off, which has meant lots of long and extra-long weekends this summer. We work long days if we have a major event coming up, but we get that time back in PTO, and that happens maybe twice a year. No issue on my team to wfh occasionally to work around appointments etcs., and a standardized wfh program is going to be rolled out across the building soon I hear.

  116. Senior Director, Global Programs (Non-Profit)*

    I direct international programs for a national non-profit. Our office is very flexible – everyone who works in office is expected to have core hours of 10-3 but otherwise make own schedules (some are 7-3, others 9-5 or 10-6 etc.). We have unlimited vacation/sick leave (take what you need) and FT is considered 35 hours per week. We have 5 staff working remotely around the country who also make own hours. Expectation is that you will manage your schedule to deliver what is expected so probably 1/2 of office works consistent 35 hours only (due to their role), and other 1/2 works 45-60 hours/week due to their workload/role and time of year.

    I work usually 8:30 – 6:30 and my direct reports work 9-5. My peers with similar roles have young kids and definitely work less hours. My workload and hours are self-imposed — others haven’t been regularly promoted or raised comparable funds for their programs but after 3 years, my team and programs have grown, which does mean more work.

    I work past 7 at least once a week (by choice) because I know I’m not great about getting back online at home, so I try to wrap things up at the office before I leave. I do check email in mornings before I head to the office and read/edit work from the train (35 min commute each way). Because of our office culture, I have major flexibility to step out for personal appointments during work hours, to do a few personal things during the day/over lunch as needed, etc.

    I also travel for work at least 1 week per month (often 2), and while on travel, I work 12+ hours a day (from breakfast until past dinner). I take usually 3-4 weeks vacation throughout the year with limited work while on leave.

  117. Jazzyisanonymous*

    I’m an insurance claims adjuster. Generally 10-12 hours per day. Hours are not flexible, we’re required to be in during 45 core scheduled hours, but can’t really leave until work is actually done.

  118. Steph B*

    I work in clinical trials as a data manager at a pharma company. Usually my hours are 40-45, but ~3-5 times a year when we are opening a new protocol, preparing for a interim analysis, or closing the database it can be more.

    Starting time wise, I’ve noticed most clinical operations people coming in earlier ~7-8am and leaving ~4pm. I think it is partly to due to the fact that we are on the west coast with collaborators on the east coast.

  119. annuity*

    I’m an actuary working in health and benefits consulting. During busy season (summer) we have no work life balance, but the rest of the time it’s not too bad, 35-40 hours a week with some weekend work if necessary. We have billable hours (sadly!) so there’s every reason to work more.

  120. Susan the BA*

    IT in higher ed, salaried. Generally I work our standard hours (37.5/week), maybe a little over 40 . Sometimes an urgent matter that happens right before 5 means sticking around for a bit. Occasionally a big project requires a weekend and/or evening commitment (e.g. when we have to take the system down outside of most people’s normal hours), which is communicated well in advance so people can plan around it. Also, they’re pretty flexible here about start/end times, long lunches, popping out for appointments, etc as long as you get your work done.

    A different job I worked at the same institution had waaaaay longer hours (for less money), so there’s no generalizing even by company. It’s a matter of trying to get an accurate estimation before you start and then seeing if you can live with that. Some people can stay sane working 60+ hours a week. I could not and had the psychiatric meds to prove it.

  121. Jess*

    I was salaried at a university development office. I usually worked from 9 until 5 or 6. Sometimes I left earlier, sometimes I stayed until 7. During our busiest times (maybe 3-5 weeks spread throughout the year, especially when working with partners in Asia while I was on the US east coast) I’d be at work until midnight or 1, take a car service home, have a nap and a shower, and be back at my desk by 5 or 6am. During our slowest times I could get all my work done in an hour or two and spend the rest of the day messing around on YouTube teaching myself Excel or whatever.

  122. Kowalski! Options!*

    Training professional, federal government (Canada). Because of a quirk in job classifications, I’m technically a mid-level admin professional, not an HR professional (long story). We work a 37.5 h workweek, typically 7.5 h a day; I’m not sure if we get paid overtime (and if we do, at what point), but I’ve never been asked to stay longer (and anyone who has usually takes the same amount of time off in lieu). We have flexible start hours, though you are expected to stick to a fairly regular schedule. WFH is encouraged, especially during the winter months when commuting can be a nightmare because of weather.

  123. PM Insurance*

    I am a project manager. Most of the people in Director roles work minimum 50 hours and are often on at night

    I am not a Director and have no desire to have that level of responsibility. I am also older than all of them. I want to work as close to 40 as possible and do everything in my power to stay near that. My commute is 45 minutes each way. I have no desire at this stage in life for my job to be my everything.
    Hopefully I can stay here until retirement, but that may not work. We will see

    1. la bella vita*

      I’m also a project manager (I work at a major bank) and I’m usually right around 40, give or take. Because I work with international teams a fair amount, I have a laptop so I can work from home when I have a late night or early morning call (and I can also work from home sometimes). I would guess my manager, who is pretty senior, works about 50-55 hours each week.

      I’ll also say, this is the least demanding job from an hours perspective I’ve ever had (which is great – I’m really happy here). I’ve worked in accounting, finance, and consulting and the slowest weeks I ever had were 45-50 hours and I’ve done more 70-80 hour weeks than I care to think about. Burnout is real, y’all.

  124. Gnome Ann*

    Salaried in house graphic designer here. Pretty good work/life balance. Very flexible hours for my entire office – some folks come in as early as 6:30 or 7 and leave at 2-3, some come in around 10 and stay late. I generally try to work about 40 or “until it’s done” which sometimes means later than others. But I can also make the decision to come in late or leave early the following day. Over the last 6 years I’ve stayed past 6 only a handful of times, and only past 9 one time when it was a government contract that *had* to go out on time.

  125. Rache*

    Executive Assistant – salaried/exempt. My boss is not an early morning person, so she’ll usually be in by 9 and stays until about 5-6pm. I’m here anywhere from 7:30-9:00, and usually leave around 5pm if she’s here, or up til about 6 if she has me working on something specific. If she’s traveling, I could get out around 4-4:30. There are also 3 or 3:30pm happy hours from time to time (with her or with her blessing, always).
    Caveat is that we also communicate via text, and I have a work-assigned cell phone. I might hear from her in the evening about something for the next day (while it’s on her mind), or I’ve also gotten a call or text about last minute travel changes that she needs assistance with.
    All said, the balance is very good. I’m able to work from home, leave early/come in late for appts, etc. without using PTO.

  126. WFH*

    I work from home about 95% of the time. We’re a “work when you want to as long as stuff gets done” type of team. Usually I get up and check email/make quick responses while I make coffee and eat a bite, then go offline for an hour while I go for a run and shower. Back online for any meetings or deep work that needs to be done, and then I might go offline for a couple of hours while I run to an appointment, grocery store, etc. Back online for a few hours (almost always 1-5pm), and then offline again for dinner, and then online after dinner for whatever loose ends I need to wrap up before the next day. All told I probably put in ~50 hours a week, but it honestly doesn’t feel like that because I can schedule my life in such a way that I can use my time super efficiently (Costco at 11am vs 6pm is a TOTALLY different experience!)

  127. la la la yeah*

    Education Director, not-for-profit
    9:00 – 5:30 hours, go home to eat, socialize, then tackle writing that didn’t get done at work or emails for an hour or two (probably about three nights a week). A few times a month: early morning meetings with school principals, evening event or meeting with board.

    My partner is a senior university librarian with a tech angle. Great hours — strictly 9-5 most of the time with wonderful benefits and vacay.

    We both work through lunch/eat at our desk but I doubt that anyone would care if we actually took a real lunch each day.

  128. Chaperon Rouge*

    Management consultant here. I work around 50 hours most of the time, but am expected to stretch to 60-70 hours for a couple of weeks before major deadlines. Some folks at my firm work insane hours. I don’t think it’s just about hours though – in my previous job I’d routinely work 60 hours a week mostly on writing, and it was fine. 60 hours with stress and constant meetings is exhausting in comparison.

  129. A Non E. Mouse*

    IT Geek, in the manufacturing business sector but not working for a manufacturer itself. Salaried.

    Typical week I generally work 43 to 45 or so in the office (I eat at my desk an average of 3 days a week, but will do so 5 days a week during busy times), with probably another 5 to 10 outside (answering email, password reset for the field guys on call, “thought work” like planning/writing, and reading/looking up information I need).

    We schedule maintenance after hours and on weekends, but that probably averages out to one weekend/two late evenings once a quarter. We really strive to keep that to a minimum, spread the load and if the work CAN be done remotely, do it from home.

    We do have some work tasks overnight that are usually handled by one person (scheduled to work that shift); if he is on vacation we rotate those duties amongst ourselves – doing them from home late evening/early morning then finishing up in the office. It’s brutal but we share the load.

    If something is busted, it’s all hands on deck until it’s fixed. During major projects we try to schedule any kind of interruptions to servers/networks to after 4:30pm, so sometimes those evenings will stretch to 6pm.

    I have flexibility, but have really found that less than 40 hours with my butt in a chair *at work* means work can slip through. I run the occasional day at home (scheduled repairs at the house, sick kid that just needs the TV remote and gatorade kind of attention, etc.) but that really isn’t as effective – I’m already accounting for work that can be done away from my desk in those 5 to 10 hours a week, so it’s really difficult to fill another 8 with them.

  130. Alienor*

    I work for a corporate marketing agency, and I’m usually in the office 40 hours a week. Sometimes I’ll answer a few emails at home in the evening, or finish up a project over the weekend if I have a tight deadline, but that’s rare. (My preference is always to do extra work at home rather than stay late in the office, and most of the time I can.) It varies by role, though – there are people around me who work more like 50-60 hours a week because their particular job demands it, and/or who travel on business for weeks at a time.

  131. Editor (Book publishing)*

    I work in book publishing, which is notoriously bad for work/life balance, but I don’t actually spend that many hours at the office, especially during the slow summer season. This week I’ve been getting in at 10, taking a long lunch, and leaving right around 5 or 6; 9:30-6:30 are more typical hours for me during the rest of the year, unless I’m staying late to finish up a particular project. But I take a lot of work home. Sometimes that means reading for an hour or two a few nights a week, but sometimes it means reading something overnight or editing all weekend. It’s also a very networking-dependent industry, so I attend a fair number of work-related events/lunches/drinks/parties as well (though I’m trying to do more lunches and fewer drinks these days, since it was providing a too-good excuse to skip the gym.) Overall, I’d say it can range from 30-35 hours per week when it’s slow to 60+ when I’m working on a big project (or multiple big projects at once.)

    1. slimlove*

      I’m also an editor, in academic publishing. I generally work 40 hours (9-6 with an hour lunch), but depending on the time of year and my travel schedule, that can vary a lot:
      –I travel to conferences and other events at least 5 times a year. Conferences happen all over the country and involve 2 or 3 days out of the office plus at least Saturday and about half the time Sunday as well. Smaller (usually local) events are more like 1 to 2 days, sometimes on a weekend. My workday while traveling can be anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. Depending on travel logistics, I can find myself getting up at 4AM for an early flight or getting home at midnight after a late flight. My travel is not spread evenly throughout the year; I can go 3 months without traveling and then have 2 conferences back to back plus a local event. If I get back on a Sunday, I will usually take at least half of Monday off. However, if I have conferences close together, I won’t take any time off between them but take a day or two once things have eased up.
      –After a conference, I usually have work that piled up plus the usual post-conference follow up. I will frequently work late as I catch up. I will also work late towards the end of a season as we’re all rushing to finish projects in time for catalog close. So 45 hours in an average busy week.
      –I find it hard to focus on manuscripts during a normal workday, so I will either work late when it’s quiet in the office or take manuscripts home with me to read over the weekend.
      –I also do evening events occasionally if one of my authors is speaking or if I see a good networking opportunity.

  132. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    I’m in higher education IT. It’s definitely a different animal than corporate IT. Many people come to higher ed because it’s slower paced and more family friendly. I think that is definitely the case in my environment, but this is not true across all higher ed IT departments, and even varies between teams.

    I typically work 40-45 hours a week. I rarely work weekends. I’m going to do some extra hours next week because we’re in the final push of a big project, but I don’t often work past 40 hours. I am part of the database administration group, and we don’t typically have issues that require us to work long hours.

    Other teams (like networking or the student information system group) sometimes put in long hours to deal with emergencies. But rarely do you see many people, beyond a few higher-up directors and such, working past 40 hours a week here.

  133. But you don't have an accent*

    I do software implementation, but have had two very different experiences at the two companies I’ve worked at.

    At my old job, I was consistently working 60+ hours a week. When this started, I immediately began looking for a new job, but I ended up pulling those hours for more than 6 months. I was EXHAUSTED by the time it was over. This was a growing company that was no longer a “start up” but wanted to keep that mentality around working hours and keeping “bare bones” staffing. I was salaried at this position, so I ended up calculating my “hourly” rate, and figured I’d given the company over $20,000 in “free” work. It did not help my morale; 0/10 would recommend. (I did this in case I needed the information for salary negotiation).

    My current job, I would say I average about 45 hours a week. It’s a bit harder to track, since the projects here are more long term (think around 2 years), so there will be down times and times where I need to put in extra hours. This summer’s been brutal for me personally since I’ve been doing a solo project, which meant I’ve been putting in 50 – 60 hour weeks. When I’m not with a client, however, my company is pretty flexible on when I can come in and doesn’t care when I leave as long as it’s reasonable (usually by 4:15 M-Th, and by 3:30 on Fridays). A lot of times, the managers will come around at 3:30 or 4:00 on Fridays and tell you to go home. It’s pretty sweet :) I’m also salaried here, but I don’t feel taken advantaged of.

  134. Melpo*

    I work (and live) at a boarding school. So my day always begins at 8 AM but then during any given day I have 1-3 classes and 1-3 meetings. Some terms I coach, some nights we are required to eat dinner with students, a few nights a week I have dorm duty and I am on call overnight in case any students need anything. We have half days Wednesdays and Saturdays and I do Saturday evening dorm duty a few times a month. In general I work about 60 hours each week with generous holiday and summer breaks.

  135. Kat*

    I’m a diamond exploration geologist. In the field, I work 70 hours per week for about 3 weeks. But then I’m rewarded with lots of lovely time off (usually 2 weeks) and I’m getting paid a good day rate when I work so I feel like I’m being well-compensated. :)

    I have a pretty good deal though with my current job. My last job saw me working a salaried position for anything up to 80 hours/week with no overtime. That job was rough because it was M-F 9-whatever time I left, working weekends (even if it was only for 4 hours each day) and being on-call from 5pm to 9am. I hated it.

    1. Halls of Montezuma*

      That sounds like a really, really cool job. How does one go exploring for diamonds (it can’t be as Indiana Jones as I’m picturing)?

  136. kms1025*

    I worked for 26 years as a Planning Supervisor for a large manufacturing company. 45 hours was pretty normal (but that included lunch break either at my desk or going out). 50 hours was a predictably busy week and closer to 55 was during crisis or crazy busy times.

  137. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I’m a government contractor, and I work 40 hours a week on a flexible schedule, including regularly scheduled telework days. I work over 40 hours maybe once every year or two, and generally we take off comp time when that happens.

  138. Shortie*

    I’m a salaried department director/manager. I used to work 50-60 hours per week because we have more on everyone’s plates than is possible to complete, but about a year ago, I think it was, I made the decision to always stop at 40 hours unless there is something big going on that requires a 50-60 hour week (like an event or product launch, which happens 2-3 times per year). This means not everything gets done, but I’m good at prioritizing.

    Our company offers flexible scheduling, but I generally work Monday-Friday, regular business hours. It just works better in my role to be there during core hours when employees and customers need me. And it helps with work-life balance because it reduces the chance of people calling me when I’m off work.

  139. Belle*

    I get the general idea of these salaried jobs, but how does this not discriminate against women? Since women are more likely to be the family caretakers and thus less able to work until 10pm….?

    1. Gadfly*

      Well, that is why as men start to be expected to be involved in caretaking, a lot of them are suddenly discovering this doesn’t work…

  140. Admissions Counselor*

    I am in an admissions counselor-type role at a large public university. I work 40 hours a week, every week, and often 50+ during busy times of the year. Though my benefits are great, my compensation is not (salaried, paid very little because I live in a place with low COL). My department offers some flexible time, but not consistently and sometimes there is just no way to make it work because events, visits, etc. have to get covered one way or another.

    My supervisors all work 50+ hours per week regularly, not because they have to, but because they choose to. It’s been mentioned earlier in this thread that some people in higher ed are almost proud of how overworked they are. I would argue that a lot of this stems from the fact that many higher-ups here are in pointless meetings much of the day.

    I am hoping to move up and am not willing compromise my mental health by working excessively (or appearing to do so), so we’ll see how that goes.

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      “I would argue that a lot of this stems from the fact that many higher-ups here are in pointless meetings much of the day.”

      Oh my goodness, yes. My director’s calendar is pretty much booked solid every day of the week. He is always the first one in, last one out – because when will he have time to get other work done? But he doesn’t expect me and my coworkers to do that – in fact he’s been taking on a lot of the grunt work of our department lately because the rest of us are involved in a really big project, and he wants us to focus on that.

      My mentor at the university where I work said she’d like to see me get to director level in a few years, and my first thought was…I’ll take the pay but not the meetings. Good god are they pointless. I’ve been in a few!

  141. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

    I’m in finance (asset management) – long hours but HUGE bonuses are generally expected. I’m in an interesting position in that my role at my previous firm was salaried, whereas my current role is hourly. I have the same title (Administrative Assistant) at both places. Typically admins are not salaried, but my actual job responsibilities were probably 80% analyst level, 20% admin so I believe legally they were in the clear (analyst work seems to meet the requirements to be considered exempt).

    I had major issues with the hours I was expected to work in my salaried role. In my opinion for salaried roles there should be an approxiamate number of weekly hours expected. Typically 40, but for example my current firm’s hours are 9-6 (but lunch is provided everyday so lunch breaks aren’t really a thing) so here the expectation is about 45. From there – you are expected to manage your working hours to complete the job. Maybe it goes over 40 (or 45 or whatever), but in general I would expect that the role should take a fairly standard number of hours to complete. Or at the very least, there should be some sort of expectation of the hours needed would look like. Maybe that’s one super busy week a month where you work 60 hours a week, but then a week or two of 30 hour weeks.

    The issue I ran into was that I was told one thing about the role – occasional late nights would be expected, but that’d I generally need to be in the office 8-5 with a good deal of flexibility and that I could manage my own start time as long as things got done on time. And I accepted a salary that I thought was fair based on that expectation.

    Then I got into the role and found out that I was actually expected to be in by 8am on the dot every morning (or I would be questioned sharply and definitely discouraged from coming in later, even for no specific business purpose) and that I was expected to work until 8pm every night (even if there were no outstanding items or time sensitive issues – we had the type of work where there was always stuff to do, you never had nothing to do). Oh and I was also expected to be on call 24/7 for a specific type of situation that came up and needed to be addressed within an hour or so. I felt very taken advantage of because I NEVER would have accepted the salary offered if I knew that I would be working so many hours regularly, without the flexibility mentioned. That said, had the salary been higher I might have been ok with the long hours/24/7 on-call thing.

    My main point is – when you’re salaried I agree that you might need to do “whatever it takes to get the job done”, but that companies really owe it to potential employees to give a reasonable expectation of what that will most likely look like. That way the potential employee has the opportunity to decide if the expected hours are reasonable for the salary offered.

    I’m back to hourly but after that previous experience I love it. I feel like my time is respected and that I’m fairly compensated for the amount of time that I’m working.

  142. MatScientist*

    I am an exempt employee for a manufacturing company and the hours you mention are typical for me (and my partner, who also works at this company in a different department). We work to get the job done as much as possible. There are more (exempt) individuals at my company though who will not work more than 40 hours – in fact they will count down minutes to make sure they don’t go over. It all depends on your position, how you want to be perceived, and what your responsibilities are. If I have a customer who wants to come in at 7 AM, I’ll be here at 7!

  143. MashaKasha*

    IT. Contrary to popular opinion, every job I’ve had over the last 17 years has had 40-45 hour weeks (more on the 40hr end than the 45); with the exception, of course, of an occasional emergency situation where people have to temporarily work long hours. One of the OldJobs had on-call support. I hated it, because I like my nights and weekends to be predictable, if I set my alarm at 6, I like to know that I won’t have to bolt out of bed at 2:30 to work on a call, etc. But in return, we got a very high level of flexibility and occasional comp time.

    Corey’s situation, though, reminded me of a coworker, at the OldJob that had on-call support, who lived 5 minutes from the office. I lost count of late-night or weekend calls when someone on the call would say things like “oh why don’t we just call Corey2 and have him drop by the office and work on it, he’s five minutes away anyway”. Poor Corey2 ended up buying a house on the other side of our metro area, with a 45-mile commute, and who can blame him for wanting to move as far away from the office as possible? The fact that he used to live next door to the office had definitely been abused many times by a lot of people.

  144. seejay*

    When I worked in investigations/forensics, our hours were literally all over the map because it depended on when evidence, suspects and situations were available to us. You couldn’t just say “I’m off the clock” or “I put in my 40 hours this week” or “it’s midnight” when there’s an open window to collect evidence or witness something. I worked a 24 hour shift straight through because a suspect wasn’t cooperating and the only way to collect the evidence from their computers was with their lawyers present, in their office, and once the lawyers left, we couldn’t image them anymore, so that meant staying in their office the entire time and getting copies of everything at that moment until the job was done. In another investigation, I had to sit up in a chat room for 4 hours, from 10 pm until 2 am, monitoring and participating in the chat, and collecting evidence of the other participants, then go into work the next morning at 8 am with my findings.

    These days, as a software engineer, I get a lot more leeway and less hair-on-fire scenarios. We do have some situations where I pull extra overtime hours and spend time working on fixing code and bugs but that’s because something made it out live in field and it’s preventing money from being made (or worse, money is actively being lost because of a mistake and it’s allowing fraud or theft and we have to actively fix it to protect our clients). We usually do this to keep our clients happy though and it’s far rarer than the forensic field, which had me on overdrive far more than I’d care to admit.

  145. Magenta Sky*

    I’m a one person IT shop for a retail chain with 16 locations and about 250 employees. I am salaried exempt (and fought to stay that way when a new HR person didn’t really understand what my job is, and though I didn’t make enough to be exempt).

    I’m on call whenever needed. It helps that the stores aren’t open more than 12 hours a day, but I’ve had some very busy weeks. The record is a 12 hour day followed by a 10 hour day followed by a 16 hour day in two counties, when we were remodeling two stores at once.

    But I average pretty close to 40 hours a week, overall, and never have to give a second thought to taking a few hours off for doctor’s appointments, etc. It works because I am working for the most reasonable people I’ve ever worked for. There are a lot of companies I’d insist on punching a time clock for, to avoid being abused.

  146. Felicia*

    I work in a non profit , professional association, in marketing, 37.5 set hours per week, only over time is one weekend per year we know about the whole year in advance. I think it’s pretty standard.

  147. haley*

    I’m a software engineer at a mid-sized tech startup and I work from about 10 to 6 every day. This is fairly unusual for Silicon Valley, there’s an ethos here that glorifies workaholism and it sometimes manifests as performative over work, but I came to my current company because they literally have a poster on the wall that says “Work hard and go home”

  148. Betty (the other Betty)*

    Graphic Designer

    When I worked in-house for a company, mostly my hours were 8 – 5 but deadline-driven work meant staying to meet the deadline or working weekends.

    Now I am running my own company (AKA freelance): I control my hours but the nature of the business means that sometimes I work a lot of hours including late nights and weekends to get something done on time. (I also charge a premium for rush work, which helps my clients plan ahead a bit.)

    There is no delaying the printing presses when something time-sensitive needs to be printed and shipped on time, and you can’t advertise an event after it is over.

  149. Backroads*

    I’m in education. We have our “contract hours” that we are officially not available outside of nor pressured to work outside of, but people tend to work as needed.

  150. KMB213*

    I’m an office manager at a small law firm. I typically work 50-55 hours/week and am expected to always be on call. Frankly, had I known the hours required when I began the job, I wouldn’t have accepted or would have requested a higher salary. We simply don’t have the volume of employees required to handle the work, so, despite working so much, I often feel behind.

    I understand that 50-55 hours/week is a lot less than many people work, but I explicitly expressed in my interview that, while I don’t mind occasionally working late, I was looking for a job with a better work/life balance than my previous position. I also accepted the job (and the relatively low salary and poor benefits) partially on the assurances that a typical work week would be 40 hours.

    Needless to say, I’m currently looking for something new.

  151. Producer*

    I’m a video producer working inside a marketing department in a consumer goods company.

    When I don’t have a shoot going on, my schedule is about 8:30 – 5pm Mon-Fri. This company is pretty good about people getting their work done during work hours, so I don’t have much email coming through in the evening, which is awesome.

    That all goes out the window when I have a shoot going. Those are 12 -14 hour days, on my feet and problem solving all day — it’s exhausting. Shoots also involve a decent amount of travel (generally overnight trips). I’m coming off a busy period and my boss told me to take a few comp days next week, since he knows it’s not just about the long days but being away from home. I feel really lucky to be at a place where work-life balance is taken seriously. When I worked in broadcast television production, ten hours was a standard workday, and you could never not answer a late night email.

  152. Halls of Montezuma*

    DoD engineering (federal employee). I’m exempt, but still get paid normal hourly rate for OT, up to the fed pay cap. I typically work 45-50 hour weeks, and am on call outside of that – my project is pretty good about not needing on call support, but for things with a big field or fleet support demand, it can get ugly. I can also get tapped for failure review boards and accident/mishap investigations related to my current or previous projects, which usually mean awful 60-80 hour weeks to do the investigation and most of my day job.

  153. HRG*

    I’ve held two exempt roles at two organizations, one a nonprofit and one for profit. I found that in my previous role (the nonprofit) I worked about 45-50 hours a week regularly (35 was full time there), with the unstated expectation that I was available on evenings, weekends, holidays and planned vacations by phone to discuss non-routine HR issues as they arose (we had some locations that were 24/7/365). These calls were infrequent enough (about twice a week, for only 20-30 minutes generally) that I had no problem with it. If there were any situations where I was going to be truly unavailable, such as when I took a week long international trip and would have no access to a phone, or the first two days following a serious surgery I had, I would make this clear to my boss and the management I supported and give them an alternative person to contact and this was never an issue. They were also incredibly flexible with me when I needed it, including letting me work 1/2 days for two weeks after said serious surgery, and letting me work from home whenever I wanted, as well as giving me 6 weeks of paid vacation that I was totally fine being available the rest of the time.

    Now that I’m at the for profit, I work 40-42 hours most weeks. There has been a couple weeks, especially during our initial ramp up, where I worked about 50 hours and a few days in particular that have been brutal (who could forget the 15 hour job fair?) but I’m usually pretty darn close to 40. I’m also not expected to be available by phone or email, although we do have a late shift that is here until 8 and I usually leave at 5:30. I have made it clear to my management team that they are absolutely ok to contact me from 5:30-8 if something arises but they’re very insistent on not doing that. It’s kind of nice because even though I didn’t mind being more available before, I can truly disconnect now when I walk out the door. That said, I do have a little less flexibility now where I can only work from home on rare occasions, and I only receive 3 weeks of paid vacation. It’s a trade off. I also get about $12,000 a year here so that’s definitely worth the decrease in flexibility for me personally.

  154. Not the Workhorse*

    I’m not salaried – I’m hourly-paid clerical staff. But even hourly non-exempts have it tough these days, too. My employer is like all the rest; they’ve cut the staff down to the bone and don’t have nearly enough people to handle all the work. Some of us are even being asked to handle more and more management-type work along with our usual admin duties. Most of us here are working 55-60 hours per week and have been for quite a while. Several of my co-workers are taking work home at nights and weekends just to stay caught up. Although the overtime is nice, at least for me, I get tired easily (I’m close to retirement age). I’m trying to hang on, because I know I don’t have the option at my age to find another full-time job.

  155. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

    I do account management and data analysis for a logistics company. When I was salaried (they reclassified my position last year to non-exempt, which I was and still am extremely unhappy with), I worked anywhere from 40-50 hours a week, usually on the lower end except for unusually busy times a couple of times per month.

    Recently though, I interviewed for a very similar position (which I did not get) where I was informed that the usual work week was more like 60-70 hours. It was a huge salary bump with tons of perks though, so I probably would have taken it had I been offered the position.

  156. Mike B.*

    Advertising. Our hours depend entirely on what’s going on–during product launches and while preparing major deliverables for submission/deployment, we can have multiple weeks of working till whenever the work gets done, be it 8 or 10 or 12 (or later, though we usually go home to work if they need us at extreme hours). In one notorious recent case we had people working graveyard shifts (at Christmastime, no less) to satisfy a difficult but deep-pocketed client.

    But more often than not, most of us can walk out at 5-6–we have a second shift that can take over the simpler work at the end of the day. And since our work is driven by creative types who tend not to start early, we can usually traipse in after 9 without having to make up the time.

    1. Mediamonkey*

      Also in advertising but a media planner working in London.
      We work officially 9.15-5.30 with an hour for lunch. In reality we work as needed and for a fixed salary with no overtime. Before having my daughter i used to work a lot of hours – 12 hour days were not uncommon. Now i have her and a long commute which means i try to leave on time to spend time with her before bed. If i have to i will work from home in the evening. I never take a lunch break so i can leave on time.
      I am quite experienced for my actual job and salary level so i can work fairly efficiently and get a lot done in the time i have which avoids too much working late. Now i just need to work on the promotion and pay rise without getting sucked back in to long hours!

  157. Jake*

    Construction superintendent.

    Must work whenever tradesmen are working (usually 40 hours a week, but I’m also there for any overtime). In addition I’m first in, last out, so this typically means 45 to 50 hours a week plus any trades overtime they work (varies significantly by project).

    In addition at the start of a project 60 to70 hours a week are basically required to get a job up off the ground. This usually lasts 2 to 4 months.

  158. Defense Contractor*

    I work at a Defense Contractor in the US. We have a 9/80 schedule, and I’m salaried exempt. The manager of my group is very flexible with letting us work from home when necessary, and we can “pay back” vacation we take for unexpected absences (we have 10 weeks to pay it back). I usually work 42 or 43 hours per week, but we get paid (straight time) for any hours worked over 45 per week. Since we work for the US government, we have to fill out an electronic time sheet daily.

  159. The Pink Lady*

    I’m in the UK, and have learned so much about working in the US since I started reading AAM!

    I’m salaried, and work in an arm’s length government body – we’re an agency which carries out statutory work on behalf of a government department. I’m contracted to work 35 hours a week, but in practice, I end up working 40-45, simply because we don’t have the resources to keep up with the work otherwise. I am based at home, though, so in essence I’m using what would be my commute time, so it doesn’t really affect me that much. Some weeks I’m under more pressure than others – my casework has deadlines which vary from 12 to 26 weeks (which can still be too little time!) but sometimes there is emergency work to be done which might mean my working over a weekend or doing some long days. I can take the extra as time off in lieu, but there never seems to be a week quiet enough to allow for it, so I generally write it off as what’s needed to get the job done, as I’d expect to at my level. My job is in a very specialised area which I am passionate about and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Our other conditions are really good, too – 30 days’ leave plus a closedown over Christmas, and any reasonable sick leave for appointments and illness.

  160. Becca*

    I worked at a small marketing agency right after college. Owner was paying salaries of $480-$540 a week and expected full attendance in the office between 8-5 and expected employees to be on call all the time including nights and weekends. We were managing event staff so we had to be responsible during these events which often occurred nights and weekends. This meant most people worked 60 plus hours a week for around $500 a week. It was slavery. Makes me never want another salaried job. And this was 2015-2016 so I’m not talking about a job I had a long time ago. This is a blatant exploitation of recent college graduates. A company with these expectations should pay hourly and overtime or dramatically inflate salaries. No wonder turnover was 200 percent.

    1. MJLurver*

      The Entertainment Industry is known for doing this also – agents assistants earn around $550 – $600 per week these days (sometimes less depending on the company) and they work at least 45-60 hours per week, often more. Back in the day (20 years ago) when I was an agent’s assistant I made $500/week and I was considered lucky, as many of my colleagues were making between $425 -$475 per week, same crazy hours (up to 65 hours per week or more). And then we had to do script coverage at night (Reading script(s) and then doing a full character breakdown and story summary, typing it up and distributing it to the agents). It was rough- we definitely used illegal substances in order to function and keep the hours we did. Craziness.

  161. Modernhypatia*

    Librarian of various kinds over the years. In my exempt library jobs, it’s been:

    1) Teacher Librarian : had to be there 7:15ish to 4 to have the library open (half hour for lunch, but it was in the cafeteria and not really down time), and had a meeting until 5 or 6 about once a week. (Sometimes 5:30 at a location an additional 30 minutes from home, and I’d have to come back across rush hour).

    Total: 45 minimum a week, plus a bunch of ‘read this book at home that might not otherwise be my pick so I could discuss it with kids’ that’s hard to calculate. (That job had a group of teachers who were regularly in there at 4:30 or 5am, or stayed until 8 or 9 to do things, too.)

    2) Academic librarian : I worked a weird schedule for some of it, but mostly 40 hours, with very occasional bouts of 10-11 hour days when I was finishing stuff before semesters started.

    My original director there was great about giving us comp time if someone asked us a question while we were wrapping up, which made it very easy to agree to stay if I didn’t have a fixed reason to get out the door. Part way through my time there they came down hard on exempt staff taking brief breaks in the morning (i.e. to walk a couple of blocks and get something from the downtown grocery on a nice day). I almost never took my full lunch or a break unless it was nice out, so the rigidity made me resent every minute I was there over my scheduled time.

    3) Current job : We have hours we’re open, but we’re very small (me, and our assistant who’s in the library half time and elsewhere half time), and if something happens and I can’t be there, we stick a sign up and people email me or come back another time. Lots of flexibility about ducking out early if we have an appointment or something comes up. My workweek is 40 hours, but I usually end up working closer to 42 or 43, because I get in a little early, or am here 10-15 minutes later than my end time wrapping things up.

  162. Rachel Green*

    At first I was confused by all the mentions of a 37.5 hr work week. Then it dawned on me that a half hour a day is deducted for lunch breaks. My employer doesn’t pay us during our lunch break. So, I’m at the office for 8.5 hours, but only being paid for 8. And people who take an hour for lunch are at the office for 9 hours and only get paid for 8. I’m curious about why some employers count lunch time towards your 8 hour day, but others don’t?

    1. Original Poster*

      That is a really, really interesting point and I have thought about this before. At my old job, I worked 8 hours a day with a 1/2 hour break. At my current job, I work 8 1/2 hours a day with a 1/2 hour break. I was kind of like WTF when I realized that was happening, but I also love my job a lot more than my last one, so it’s a trade off I was willing to make.

      But yes, interesting how some employers handle this differently.

    2. Manders*

      I believe it’s a combination of each company’s choice and the local labor laws. In my state, non-exempt workers have to have a 30-minute break within a certain amount of time into a shift, but companies aren’t required to keep them on the clock during the break. There are some states that don’t mandate a lunch break at all (although smart employers will often build one into the schedule so their employees aren’t hangry or woozy from lack of food), and I think there are still a few holdouts that require a paid break.

    3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      This is where the world is very different for hour and salaried employees. Most managers and executives are working 45-60 hours and get paid the same whether they take an hour for lunch or eat at their desk. The timing of lunch is connected to convenience and workload for the day, not based on compensation. For many, it never crosses their minds that lunch for an hourly employee is unpaid.

  163. Rhodoferax*

    Urgh, my last job was salaried in a factory. Never again. I’m sure it’s just that my boss was a donkey’s rectum, but that experience convinced me that salary is a scam invented by capitalists to get free labour.

    All names have been changed

    My nominal hours were 08:00 to 17:00, which is normal. When I started there, Sally, whose maternity leave I was originally hired to cover, warned me not to let the boss, Melvin, make me work any later.

    Sally always came in 15 minutes early to take a quick look around and see if there were any issues from the early morning shift (it was a 24/7 factory). I did that too, but still left at 17:00.

    Melvin took exception to the idea of always leaving on time. The man made a point of occasionally coming to me at 16:59 with some issue that had to be fixed before I left for the day, something he could have brought up with me at any time in the nine previous hours. This isn’t just my imagination – Max, the Health & Safety contractor, picked up the same thing from Melvin’s tone and body language just by looking through the window.

    I’m also not talking about last-minute catastrophes here. Melvin chose 16:59 to have me show him documents we were going to need for audits that were scheduled weeks in advance, or to track some raw material for an internal traceability audit. He would also spend part of the day he was just kind of wandering the factory floor looking keeping a general eye on things – he could have easily taken a few seconds to say “Hey Rhodoferax, do this thing” instead of waiting until literally the last minute.

    And if I dared to leave as soon as that was done, he read me the riot act. Apparently, I was paid to do all I could for the good of the company, which occasionally meant staying late, and that’s why I was on salary (his words).

    For a time after Sally came back to the job and before she quit over Melvin and the company owner, Sam, jerking her around, I was switched to a Tuesday to Saturday rota. I spent the first part of every Saturday doing my normal quality control, and the second part doing the low-level manufacturing and packing stuff so get some hands-on experience. I didn’t mind this at all, but I figured that since I was there as an extra body, there wouldn’t be any problem if I took a short lunch on Saturday and left early, at the same time as the shift change. The workers were cool with that, but Melvin blew a gasket when he found out. Apparently he was paying me to be there until 17:00 (but getting me to stay late for free was totally different apparently. Oh, and I was still giving over 40 hours a week of labour).

    I wasn’t the only one. The maintenance workers routinely worker 10- and 12-hour days, and you’d better believe they were also salaried. One of them, Roger, had in the past gotten so frustrated that when he renegotiated his contract, he forewent any raises and insisted that Melvin switch him to a wage, because he wanted to be paid for his time. That worked for a while, and while Roger was hourly, Melvin would always make sure he left one time. Eventually, Melvin offered him a substantial pay raise in exchange for going back to salary, and once he did, his working day gradually increased again.

    The takeaway here is that if your job comes with set hours, insist on wage instead of salary.

    1. Gadfly*

      We joked about my supervisor at Old Job that she probably made about $0.10 an hour. She was pretty good at pushing hourly people out the door (both to avoid overtime and because she really believed that we hadn’t signed up for working 24-7) but then she would stay late to get things done. On one hand, I really appreciated her protecting those below her from a lot of the crap, but I also think she did/does so much that the company doesn’t actually see how much work is needed. When she leaves they are going to have a rude awakening.

      This was also part of why I left Old Job. There wasn’t really any way up from my job that didn’t involve becoming a sales person or a role similar to her’s.

  164. Suz*

    I currently work in clinical trials for a non-profit. I average 40-45 hours per week. But when I started here >10 years ago it was common for people in my department to work 60-70 hours. Thank dog those days are over.

    My previous career was in the paving industry. Both exempt and non-exempt staff were expected to work about 60 hours a week during the construction season. Most companies in that industry operate that way. Hourly staff got generous overtime pay while exempt folks like me got comp time to take during the off-season. Most years, I could take the entire month of Dec off without having to use any vacation time.

  165. Melicious*

    I’m a salaried scientist in medical device product development. We can make reasonable progress with a standard 40-45 hours per week, but it varies day to day. A lot of experiments require an overnight step, so if I don’t set it up before I leave, I lose a day of progress. And that’s the distinction! I’m being paid to PROGRESS THE PROJECT, NOT for my time. My value is in output, not in hours clocked.

    More generally, staying later than planned when you’re in the midst of working directly with your boss, that is normal. Unless I had important and time-sensitive plans, I wouldn’t interrupt my boss mid-discussion to say I needed to leave! And of course if there’s a crisis or a deadline crunch, the extra hours are also normal.

  166. Tweeting for the Weekend*

    I work in politics, focusing on digital and rapid response. In my non busy periods (rare these days) I work 40-50 hours a week. In the busiest times, leading up to an election for example, I might be at work until 1am, answering emails until 3am, back in the office at 7am.

    On average over the course of a non election year it’s generally 50-60 hours a week, more in election years.

    It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

  167. Security SemiPro*

    I’m a manager in Information Security. I think I average 45 hours a week – but its got a lot of variance. Weeks that are going to be light I will leave light because I know that 60+ hour weeks are also pretty normal. And that those weeks may happen at 3 am. Without warning.

    But that is the trade off. I kick my team out of the office early on Friday because the weather is nice and nothing is on fire, because I know I call them to work at stupid hours when they had planned to be sleeping or have a social life. I try to keep the average sane.

  168. Medical Writer*

    I’m salaried and typically work right around 40 hours per week. I work from home in the Central time zone, but the office is on Eastern time, so I keep hours consistent with their workday.

    My company monitors our utilization very closely and if you consistently work over 40 hours, they review resource allocation.

    About 3 times a year I provide onsite coverage of major medical conferences and for those I typically work 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM or later. Luckily those are a week long at most!

  169. Al Lo*

    Non-profit performing arts company – I work as a production manager, in direct conjunction with our artists and staff. My weeks range anywhere from 25-60+ hours, depending on the time of year, what kinds of shows/productions we have going on, whether I’m on tour, etc. I’m in Canada and earn lieu time with my overtime, so I can really flex my hours when I have the opportunity. During a slower season, I’ll often work 4-5 hour days, because I know that I’ll make up for it with 10-hour days in the office, or 16-hour on-set production days, or 24-hour on-call tours. Right now, I have about 2 weeks of lieu time built up, which is pretty average for me. I try not to let it get out of hand and have months and months of time; my boss trusts and expects me to manage my own workload, vacation, and lieu time to ensure that everything gets done and I manage my time away from the office.

    1. Al Lo*

      I should also say, I work a lot of weekends and evenings, but I also have a very flexible schedule that suits my night-owl tendencies.

      I rarely set an alarm for my regular weekdays. I’m sick less frequently and sleep better, because I can work with my body’s natural rhythm. Because of that, and because I can take the time as needed to deal with errands and appointments, I don’t typically feel burnt out at the end of a busy stretch where I’ve worked 5 weekends in a row and haven’t taken more than a couple of weekdays off. I usually run into those stretches from Labour Day to mid-October, last weekend of November to December 23, and mid-April to early June. But I love what I do, I’m treated like an adult, and the weekend/extra days are often the really fun part of getting the show up and doing the hands-on theatre work, not the office side.

      A few years ago, I had to be at work at 8:00 for a week straight (due to some vehicle sharing issues when one car was out of commission), and I was more burnt out, irritable, and exhausted after 3 days than I was after 5 weeks with only 2 or 3 days completely off in the month prior to that.

  170. Annie Mouse*

    UK ambulance service, we work up to 12 hour shifts, with 24 hr cover. Shift times are dependent on area but we have to be allowed 11 hrs between shifts, and generally don’t work more than 5 in a row. You almost never finish on time, it’s a balancing act of getting ready to head to base as soon as possible after your finish time. And if you’re stuck on scene and really late then that’s just how the dice fall because you can’t abandon a patient just because it’s home time!

    1. The Pink Lady*

      Annie: you guys are heroes. You’ve saved both my parents’ lives at different times, and got me safely to hospital from two RTCs and a nice bout of anaphylaxis. I’ll always be grateful for your care and dedication. I love our paramedics.

  171. Jess*

    My husband is a lawyer. He’s up and answering work emails by 5:30. Unless he has to go to court, in which case he can leave a little later, he’s out the door by 7 and home by 6:30 or 7. We eat dinner as a family, he puts our daughter to bed, and we hang out for a bit and watch a show or something. I’m in bed by 9 or 9:30 and then he works some more until midnight or one. He takes 1-2 weeks off per year, but usually spends a few hours each morning working and always, always has his phone on him for emergencies. If they call in the middle of our vacation saying he needs to come in, well, he goes back home and heads to work. This is why we don’t do staycations anymore. If we’re out of town, they’re less likely to cut his leave short.

    1. Jess*

      Oops, I hit post too soon. He takes most Saturdays off and works a shorter day most Sundays, when he usually goes in from 10-5 or so instead of 7-7. And, of course, during trial prep all bets are off. He might as well live at work. It sounds insane but this is actually a pretty good work life balance for a lawyer. He gets one whole day off per week and is almost always home for dinner. He tucks our kid in and reads her a story every night. That’s not possible at many firms.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        My uncle used to work that way, when his kids were younger. He was also a lawyer, and he left the office every single day at 6PM. That didn’t mean his workday was over at 6; it meant that from 6 to 8:30, he went home and had dinner with his kids, played with them, and put them to bed. (He was lucky to work close enough to home that his commute was negligible.)

        At 8:30, he’d either go back to the office or work from his desk at home, and he’d stay at it until he could reach a reasonable stopping point for the day, which could be 10:30 or could be 4AM. But those few hours between 6 and 8:30 were sacred to his family.

        1. snowflake*

          I think there’s a growing trend (especially along high-level working women) to split your workday – leave at a certain time to have dinner with family/put kids to bed and work from home in the evenings to catch up. Laura Vanderkam has compiled a lot of time logs that reflect this – I haven’t read any of her books yet but I do read her blog (and she just started a podcast).

  172. Working Hypothesis*

    “In a healthy workplace, you should also be able to say “I have an unbreakable commitment tonight and need to leave at 5.”

    Definitely this, and I think the fact that it even has to be qualified with the first clause is a sign that there are far fewer healthy workplaces these days than there used to be.

    Alison mentioned Big Law as one of the fields which expect insane hours, and that’s certainly always been true. When I was growing up, both my parents were lawyers; my dad as an associate in one of New York’s largest firms. They’d been putting in so many hours that one day, as my father was getting dressed to go to the office, I came out of my bedroom in my yellow pajamas with the feet, and asked him plaintively, “Daddy… since it’s Saturday… can you come home before dark?”

    His answer, bless him, was “Yes, sweetheart. I’ll be home by lunch.” Then this 28-year-old, second-year associate went into a meeting with three senior partners and told them, “Gentlemen, let’s get this over with. I have to be out of here at noon; I have a lunch date.”

    Nobody objected. They got it done by noon and he came home to play with me for the rest of the day.

  173. snowflake*

    I’m a manager in a Big 4 and I generally work between 45-55 hours/week . Every once in awhile I work more but it’s definitely not sustainable for me. I work in a niche area (I’m not an accountant) that does not have busy seasons. Every once in a while I have a hard deadline but a lot of the time it’s “get a steady amount of work done so that we can bring in revenue”.

    I tend to do a little work from home on weekends and a few times a month I flex my time (come in late, leave early) because it’s not hard for me to make it up the other days of the week. Most of the time, though, I am one of the first ones in my group here and one of the last to leave.

  174. Isobel*

    I was previously a salaried GP in the UK (not a partner). I worked 4 days a week, Monday to Thursday. I got to work around 7.45 am and left at about 7.30 pm. I actually saw patients from about 8.30 – 11.30 and 3pm – 6 pm, at ten minute intervals; the rest of the time was phone calls, paperwork and home visits. Quite often I went in to catch up on admin for a few hours on the Friday. I had the usual UK holiday allowance but never quite managed to take it all. Sometimes we did a late day where we started at 10.30 am and finished seeing patients at 8pm. I was lucky having a weekday for dental appointments etc. I had one day off sick in the seven years I worked there. It sounds totally fine but unfortunately I got quite stressed and exhausted and ended up leaving.
    I still feel guilty about it because I know many people have longer hours, more stressful jobs and worse pay.

  175. Jules the First*

    I work in design (with architects). It’s salaried and while we don’t get paid overtime, in theory I’m entitled to comp time like everyone else. In practice it rarely happens because I’m always coaching multiple project teams so I almost never have enough time between deadlines to take comp time.

    I’m contracted for 40 hours a week; I’m almost always in the office for at least 45 hours (if I leave at 6, it’s because I’ve not taken lunch) and I’m on call outside office hours for anyone who needs me from lunchtime in Hong Kong until about 4pm in California, plus I’ll usually monitor my email over the weekend. In bad weeks, I’ll be pushing 70 hours, but I try not to have those more than once or twice a year. I work a lot less now than I did ten years ago when I was starting out (where it was not unusual for me to work 90+ hours), partly because I’ve got the experience now to know where we’re going to hit problems and partly because I’m now militant about work-life balance. In the pursuit of true insanity, I’m planning a baby next year…

  176. Quickbeam*

    I am a nurse case manager for an insurance carrier. I am salaried. I work at least 50 hours a week in addition to monitoring email requests on vacation, weekends and evenings. I was the start up nurse for this company and in our first 2 years worked 60-70 hours a week. Now that we are established I have been able to decrease to a 50 hour norm.

  177. lizz*

    I used to work for a medium-sized private company, in a small department, in an IT role. You were expected to work late, if you didn’t get your work done, but most of us were able to. We had very strict time-lines for things. One nice perk was you could leave early on Fridays (if your work was done). And twice a year, there would be a week where the whole department had very long hours because of a certain industry event that happened. But it was a limited time, and you were always given a heads-up that this was coming. The department heads treated it like our superbowl, with free snacks, and game breaks etc… so even though it was hard work, it was kinda fun working as a team, all in the same boat.

  178. "Collaboration Specialist" - but really Technical Writer/Trainer*

    I work for the technology group of a huge, global company. I typically work 40-45 hours per week, and my schedule can usually be flexible if I need it to be. There are some meetings that I need to attend, and when I’m delivering training, of course those hours are not flexible. However, I can generally get errands done during the day and work a little later in the evening if necessary. I work from home and in the office. When we’re about to roll out a new system or software application, then it’s “all hands on deck,” but even then my schedule can be flexible – to a point (as long as I make the deadlines).

    1. Misquoted*

      Same here, without the training element. I work 100% from home (or from wherever I might be), which gives me great flexibility. I am currently dealing with a family health crisis and typing this from a hospital room. During a regular week, though, I typically work odd hours — but generally with some core hours for meetings and online conversations with coworkers. But ditto the “all hands on deck” situation when we are about to go live with a new release.

  179. Kaden Lee*

    I worked as the automation engineer at a 24/7 manufacturing plant and had no backup, so I was on call 24/7 including when I was on vacation. I could remote in for some things but a lot of the time that meant going back to work after I’d left, even if it was the middle of the night or, memorably, when I was on the other side of the country (east coast vs Las Vegas) and it was 3AM local time and 6AM back home. That time I was genuinely afraid that I’d have to cut my vacation short and fly back home, but I was able to fix it remotely through the power of “OKAY THAT SHOULD LAST A FEW DAYS UNTIL I’M BACK IN TOWN GOOD NIGHT”.

    I worked 50 hour weeks by default and some of the managers worked more than that. (My dad is the procurement manager at the same plant and he worked 5 9 hour days plus being on call 24/7 and he was considered to have “light” hours).

    On two different occasions I had to cancel highly anticipated Friday night plans for “emergencies” (neither one was an emergency, but I’d seem bitter if I detailed further). One I had to stay until 9PM so I could be on stand by in case there was an issue as they brought a system back up, the other was maintenance that could have waited about a month until our planned major shutdown. The plans that got cancelled were respectively a. seeing my best friend I hadn’t seen for roughly 2 years since she was in grad school and b. taking my little sister to a comedy show we’d both been looking forward to before she left for college.

    The hours and the on call is what made me look for & get a new job. Now I work 40 hours a week (7AM to 4PM plus an hour for lunch) but with the same flexibility as before (both my old manager and my new one frequently say “as long as you get the work done I don’t care if you leave early because we both know the day will come that something will come up and you’ll have to stay late”) and without being on call. I’m still in training but I’ll be the third of three project managers, meaning I’m able to actually take vacation and not worry about dialing in at the drop of a hat.

  180. Librarian*

    I work in a university library and consistently work exactly 40 hours. I’m pretty strict when it comes to work/life balance – no checking work email after hours, no work related phone calls/texts (except in the case of an emergency, of course). I have colleagues who routinely work outside of their regular 40 hours, but that usually means responding to emails when they’re home. That type of thing is by no means the norm at my institution, other than for the higher-ups, like the dean and assistant deans of the library.

  181. E PA*

    I’m a Personal Assistant at a large University. My hours are 37.5 per week, but occasionally I have to come in early or work late at events. My hours are pretty flexible and I can adjust my start and finish times to accommodate the events.

  182. WG*

    Higher Ed Administration

    In my current office, I generally work 45-50 hours a week, with some of that being keeping up with email in the evenings and playing some catch-up on weekends. It can vary depending on the time of year and projects that are occurring. My boss is great about giving me as much flexibility as possible, but in return I’m careful to be around the office at times I’ll most likely be needed.

    I previously worked in another office on the same campus where the supervisor expected many, many more hours. I was working from home most nights, weekends, vacations, and holidays. And yet, was never able to keep up with the ever-increasing workload.

  183. Willow Suns*

    I am an hourly support person at a corporation in the retail industry. We are actively discouraged from putting in overtime. However, they will allow it once in a while under certain busy times of the year.

  184. NPOQueen*

    I’m in project management and event planning, so my hours revolve around my projects/events. I’ve come in as early as 6am and stayed past midnight for some gigs, it just depends. However, I don’t really do work at home; I might answer a stray email (I keep company email on my personal phone), but I usually don’t work. If I needed to though, I could do my normal 9-5pm and then take my laptop home, I wouldn’t be expected to go back to the office.

  185. Not a doc*

    I am a community college instructor. We’re required to teach 6 classes, all of which are 3 credit hours, plus 5 office hours a week and any committee work/meetings, etc. We are only 9 month contract employees without tenure. The good is, during spring break, fall break, Christmas break, we don’t have to go in unless we have a meeting or required support duty like advising. The bad = during the school year I regularly work in the evenings and weekends. When I have a lot of grading to do, I can work well over 50 hours. BUT – some weeks it’s not as bad. And I do have some say in when assignments are due, so I can control those hectic weeks, within reason.

    When I was an administrative assistant, it was 37.5 hours a week, no matter how busy it was. We could get OT but only with approval.

    It’s much nicer being able to manage my own time, but it means that if my supervisor calls me on a Saturday, I’m obliged to pick up. But teaching is a weird profession because of the amount of grading and planning required.

    1. Adjuncts Anonymous*

      I’m supposed to be part-time faculty adjunct with semester contracts, capped at 28.5 hours a week as a community college adjunct instructor. I teach a five hour class, four days a week, followed by 1.5 hours to do data entry for multiple classes, with another 1.5 on Fridays to do data entry and to prepare paperwork for five classes (mine included) during the week. Except for two weeks in December, there are only three school days between semesters and I do work summers.

      The nasty truth is that I actually work 40 hours most weeks. Extra work is obviously unpaid. I come in a half hour early (at 7:30 a.m.) to prepare for my class. I teach actively for the five hours, take about 10 unscheduled minutes to wolf down a sandwich at my desk after the students leave, and do the data entry. However, since I’m a “lead teacher,” I’m also expected to train colleagues on their own paperwork, which takes more time. I need to monitor students’ hours in all five classes for test-taking purposes. That takes more time. I have to email my colleagues with work concerns. And don’t get me started on lesson plans! Not only that, I’m expected to work with fellow teachers and plan an end-of-the-semester bash for the students and administrators in my department. Of course there’s no money for such a thing.

      But there’s also no money in the budget for another full-time position, and no guarantee that I’d get it even if one opened up. I could get the community college in SO much trouble if I wanted to raise a stink. I’m just too lazy and anxious about job hunting to do that, though.

      1. Not a doc*

        I was an adjunct for 4.5 years before I was able to get a FT teaching job. It’s hard, and I really feel for you. At least at my school, they don’t expect anything outside of teaching duties for our adjuncts. I’m sorry for how you and other adjuncts are treated.

        1. Adjuncts Anonymous*

          Thanks. I often call community colleges the ugly stepchildren of education, and adult education/remedial education is the ugly stepchild of the community college. I am about the lowest possible priority for a teacher.

          1. Not a doc*

            And yet what you do is arguably the most important, at least in my opinion. I taught in developmental ed briefly. Once I took a class to a computer lab and told them to pull up Word so we could work on their paragraphs. They knew how to turn on the computer, but that was it. That really opened my eyes!

            1. Adjuncts Anonymous*

              When I taught Intro to Computers for Basic Skills/Adult Ed (as opposed to curriculum or continuing ed), I didn’t even assume they could turn the computers on. I spent a whole class talking about parts of a keyboard, mouse buttons, and touchpads.

  186. Whatchamacalllit*

    I’m a senior-level graphic designer. I typically work 40 hours but when needed can work 50+ if it’s necessary to help a colleague out, for example, because down the line they’re likely to do the same for me. I like seeing a project through to a successful completion and the company I work for definitely rewards that. Meanwhile I have peers who won’t work a minute past 40 hours who complain they get assigned “grunt work.”

    Did I mention we get paid for overtime even though we’re salaried?

  187. czarinaalex*

    I’m an Assistant Operations Manager for a recreational facility that houses 2 ice arenas, fitness facility, and gymnasium. I’m expected to average 50-60 hours a week, but I have the flexibility of borrowing from one week to the next if something comes up. It’s not uncommon for me to work wildly different hours in the same week, working until 9:30 pm one night and then opening the building at 5:30 am another day. I also email and take phone calls from vendors, contractors, and staff while outside the building which I absolutely count toward my overall working hours.

    Power, prestige, responsibility…..not a whole lot of work/life balance.

  188. Chelle*

    I’m a project manager in a role with a ton of travel–similar to consulting. When I’m not travelling I average 45-50; when I am, I count travel time as work time and so my hours creep up to 50-60 (plus dealing with things for Clients B and C after being on-site at Client A all day). No comp time or overtime, though I can be flexible with my hours when I am not travelling…and I am very well paid so I don’t mind the hours.

  189. Gadfly*

    I’m job hunting in a new field so have no clue for me personally, but my husband is a tech writer. He has a few days a week where he is expected to go in, and a couple where he works from home. Most of the time they are really flexible about things as long as the work gets done. And there are some dead periods where he can sit at home all day and play games or practice guitar or even run errands. But when there is a deadline (a new product release, for example) he might be waiting on others to get their stuff together until 5 or 6 and then he gets to start on his part. Sometimes he’s stayed up all night to have it ready for people in the morning. And there have been days where he has been asked to just work on something from home because he goes in late (commute issues) and if he skips the commute he can have the work done sooner. So kind of the opposite problem from being close to work. But it isn’t very often and it has almost never been without a fair amount of warning, and he thinks it is a fair trade for the slow days.

  190. RobotWithHumanHair*

    Without getting too specific, I’m a warehouse manager, but it’s a small warehouse where I basically oversee one person. I’m salaried and during our industry’s busy season, I’ll often end up staying at least 30 minutes past my scheduled end time, plus working through lunch as well. I’ve just accepted that because I actually love my job and it doesn’t bother me one bit. Especially because I know it’ll all even out in our slow season.

    1. Lindsay J*

      Salaried warehouse manager with 3 direct reports (well, 2 direct reports and an open position at the moment).

      I’ve been working about 45 hours per week. At first it was a little more – probably about 50, because I was getting caught up finishing stuff at the end of the day. But I shifted my hours a bit to 8:30-5:30 or 9-6 so I could wrap things up and get out when I planned to. (I can technically take an hour lunch, but usually don’t.)

      Also, on occasion we’ll need to get a part headed somewhere or take delivery of a part immediately even though it’s the middle of the night. At that point I’m responsible for doing that or getting one of my hourly employees to do it. The hourlys rotate being “on-call” for these types of things after hours and on weekends, and get paid 4 hours if they come in at all, and these events are pretty few and far between so it hasn’t happened yet.

      My company also has some salaried employees that are 100% travel, 20 days on and 10 days off. They generally work a typical 8-5 as well, but they’re responsible for all the after hours duties if they’re at a station and something comes up.

  191. Diamond*

    I work in a state government department, so everything is very above board. There’s also not much for me to do. I work the set hours of 8-4.30, with an hour lunch, and not a minute longer! In fact if you stay even 5 minutes later the boss comes and tells you it’s home time.

  192. Melissa*

    State government worker. Salaried nonexempt and unionized. I work 40 hours a week for my salary. And I have a lot of work to do. There is rarely a situation that I would be sitting idle and not have something productive I could be doing.

    This is typical for non-management positions at my agency (flex schedules like 9/80 aside). Any time above that has to be preauthorized by management, is entirely voluntary on my part, and is paid at time and a half in pay or comp time.

    I chose government work in part because of the work/life balance. I know I could make a higher salary in the private sector, but it isn’t worth it to me.

  193. JYD*

    I’m in media monitoring, and I do 40-45 hours in a good week. If it gets busy, or I need to cover for a colleague, it’s maybe 50-55 hours. I’m not sure about the industry standard, but at least at my office it’s the norm.

    This is a lot more relaxed compared to my previous job where I was assistant project manager at a start-up developing apps – at least 55 hours weekly, but in reality it was closer to 70-75 hours. The pay was good and the work itself was fun, but the endless workload made me burn out way too quickly.

  194. Thomas W*

    Feature film VFX. 50-55hrs a week on average, with stretches of 60-70-80+. I’ve peaked just over 100. There are also stretches of 40hr weeks on some projects.

  195. MJLurver*

    I work in the Entertainment Industry, on the representation side (talent & literary agencies- we represent actors, directors, producers, writers, models, TV hosts for reality and Unscripted, musicians, and others). Hours are long because the day doesn’t end in the office- there are clients to schmooze, screenings/premieres to go see, casting directors and studio executives to take to dinner and dry hump…

    Typical office hours are 9 am – 7 pm (but we rarely leave at 7) then most nights you’re expected to wine and dine people, which can be exhausting for an introvert but there’s no choice involved if you are in this business. So you work a 9-11 hour day, then go out until 10 pm or later after that, depending on your evening. Then read scripts or watch dailies or potential client actor demo reels/links before bed.

  196. drpuma*

    I’m salaried and work 40-45 hours per week in the HQ of a nationwide (US) retail chain. I think because we are retail, they tend to be fairly rigid about making sure folks are in the office for the appropriate number of hours. In my previous startup life, I worked 55-60+ hours per week from anywhere and everywhere.

  197. Galadriel*

    Oh goodness. I work overseas and job listings often include the amount of overtime per month expected (10-20hrs and 20-30hrs is common). My coworkers usually work 30-40 hrs of overtime a month and my company just made a rule prohibiting work after 10PM, but busy periods and events are 12-16hr workdays nonetheless. I wish they could see these posts to understand how unreasonable that is–it’s hard to convince them how crazy these work hours are when people think work=60hrs a week minimum!

  198. Jenny*

    In my last job (academic research, though not at a university and I’m not a PhD), people were pretty much expected to do whatever it takes. While I “only” worked around 50-55 hours (including at least part of the weekend), the frequency of 3am emails suggested that higher-ups worked much more.

  199. Bea*

    I’m in manufacturing and my entire background is in manufacturing. This is absolutely normal for a manager.

    That delivery better be super important though, I’d tell a driver to show up in the morning unless it’s something I need first thing in the morning so production can do their job, which is what I’m assuming your husband was doing this for!

    I answer emails when they come in and don’t just wait until morning, even in situations where they probably could. I don’t stay late much any more thankfully, it depends on what you’re manufacturing and the scale of the business in my experience.

    My former job, I saw the foreman pull incredible hours at times.

  200. Comms*

    I’m in communications in state government in Australia. Our working week should be 37.5 hours. I’m more likely to do 45-50 hours a week than 37.5 as I work through my lunch hour and stay late as well. It’s just a reflection of the level of work in my role as I’m the only comms person in this particular department.

    Having said that, they’re flexible around certain things – so there are times when I’ll come in three hours late because of medical appointments (I’m currently pregnant), or leave early to do XYZ. It never quite makes up for the fact that I’m doing more hours than I should every week, but the flexibility does help as I don’t have to use sick or annual leave for something that will take only a few hours rather than a whole day.

    I also have good rapport and a level of trust with my manager, so I can do occasional work-from-home days whenever the need arises – e.g. I need to wait for a tradesperson to arrive to do some electrical work, etc. Again, it means I don’t have to use annual leave, and it generally also means I get through more work in less time as I don’t have people in the office constantly coming up to me and asking me questions!

  201. Clewgarnet*

    I’m a network engineer for a telecomms provider, and in the UK. We’re on either 37.5 or 40-hour contracts*, and there’s usually paid overtime available if anybody wants on. On average, I probably work around 5 hours overtime a week (because I’m saving for something big) and that’s split between working an hour late a couple of evenings, and doing a bit (from home) at the weekends.

    * Standard used to be 37.5, but they changed it to 40 a few years ago. People on existing contracts were given the choice between going to 40 hours (with appropriate pay bump) or sticking to 37.5.

  202. Look Back In Ingres*

    37.5 hours per week! I rock up somewhere between 8.30 and 9, leave somewhere between 4.30 and 5. I get half an hour for lunch, but they’re not terribly strict – if I end up taking an hour or have to pop out for an appointment I’ll usually stay a bit later to make up for it, but that’s really my own choice – as long as you get your stuff done and are available during standard hours, no one really cares. I’m a public servant working in IT in New Zealand, and on a union contract.

  203. nonegiven*

    My niece is staff for one of the big 4. During the busy season they’ll give her crap about going home to get some sleep at 11 pm.

    If she hadn’t turned her phone off during my dad’s funeral they would have called her then. They did call her during the family dinner. They were in the middle of defending an audit for the SEC and tried to get her to fly to another state instead of driving home and then fly back the day before the funeral, (fly back to an airport that’s still 5 hours away.) Her brother was out of the country and I don’t think he would have made it back if she hadn’t spent most of the day on the phone with airlines and credit card companies.

  204. Christine*

    My husband is a logistics supervisor for a natural energy company. During busy season he can easily work 50-60 hours a week, and is basically “on call” 24/7 (thankfully random issues don’t pop up too frequently). During slow season it’s more of about 45 hours a week.

  205. Delphine*

    R&D project leader in belgium
    Supposed to work 40h but start around 8:30 and end 18:30/19:00 most days with 45min lunch breack. With sometimes peak to 20:00 (more is not possible due to the alarm).
    I take total flexible time (much easier to go to the doctor in the middle of the day), but find it hard to leave before 17:30 (but not to arrive sometimes at 9:30).
    I know that my team (roughly same hours) are taken advantage off, also because the others works fewer hours. But we are too involved in the work and want to get things done even when knowing that there is too much on our plate (especially for the moment since we are short 2 persons on a 10 person team. 2 Newbies arrive in october, hopefully starting december things will be better).
    I used to work evening or weekend a few years back, but I have reclaimed my time. (sic)

  206. Kim Cardassian*

    Actuarial student, large insurance company. I work around 37.5 hours a week normally, including some paid study time, and about 42-45 hours the first week of every month. I also spend 5-10 hours a week studying on my own. Our FSAs work about the same hours I do, but obviously without the studying.

  207. Carly*

    I worked in a manufacturing setting as a supervisor for 3 years. I was very flexible with my schedule .. for a while.. however, I began to be taken advantage of and other supervisors were not expected to be as flexible, fill in when I took a vacation or had just finished working 12 *10 hour days straight. I had no problem pulling my own weight in the scenario but felt my boss began to take advantage of me. There were multiple scenarios where I had worked over two weeks straight then left early one day to go to a concert or another commitment. My boss and coworkers who didn’t work the same amount of hours making underhanded comments about me leaving early on a Friday. When at that point I already had logged 50-55 hours of work.

    All in all in left me with a sour taste in my mouth and is why I chose to leave that organization. I did not feel supported by my manager OR my peers. I took a significant pay cut to work for another organization in the medical field. Salary position but with more work/life balance.

    Salary people are expected to put in more than 40 hours regularly but there should be a balance.

  208. j*

    I work for a union, and there are ebbs and flows to the work based on the campaigns’ needs at any given time. It’s 40-45 hours much of the time, but at peaks in the campaign cycle it can be closer to 70 (or more, I don’t want to talk about it). There’s some flexibility in our work depending on what position we’re in, but it’s a lot no matter what. The field folks have a lot of conversations about how we’re taking the time to care for ourselves to get through those spurts, whether it means a two-hour break in the afternoon to take a nap or every other Sunday off or whatever.

    I wonder if the fact that the LW lives 5 minute’s from her husband’s work has anything to do with why he was the one going back and forth? It could have been part of his position, or it could have been that of the people who might have been responsible, he lived closest and could take care of it. My colleagues and I will often try to switch up off-hours tasks based on who it’s most convenient for, especially when we’re otherwise in a busy time. (A will run to the printer to pick up materials because she lives in that neighborhood, I’ll stop at Target on my way in because it’s two miles from my house and out of everyone else’s way, etc.)

  209. Software Consultant*

    Software consultancy (in the UK, not the USA, so norms are a bit different). In my office, most people work something like 10am-6pm or 7pm, though they may well leave the office at 3pm and do more work from home. I typically arrive at 8am and target leaving at 5pm, though that slips sometimes (this makes my commute easier). If I’m on a particularly busy week, especially with international clients, I’ll work from home; last week I started at 7am and finished after 8pm every day for 7 days – but that was the busiest week in the last… 5 years?

    Most weeks I do 38-45 hours, sometimes a bit more, but rarely very much outside the 8am-7pm window.

  210. DataQueen*

    Nonprofit fundraising on the mass marketing side. 50-60 hours in the office, plus then 1-2 hours of emails and mindless data hygeine work at home. I come in Saturdays probably once a month to do backlog. We’re a meeting heavy culture, so my 9-5 is packed, and i barely get any “real work” done until people leave at 5. 5-8 are probably my most productive hours. Also, although I’m not donor-facing in my primary job, I’m good with board members and prospects, so I’m frequently invited to cultivation events and galas to schmooze, and am always there start to finish to after-drinks at the bar with donors who want to keep the party going. And honestly, I’m always living the job – I can’t count how many times I’ve sat down at the bar at a local restaurant to just hang out, and walked away with a $1000 check because I was talking up the org the whole time. So it’s kind of 24/7.

    Culturally though, as it is a non-profit, there is a big split between those who think 35 hours is fine (they call it 40 – i personally do not count taking a lunch as a working hour), and those of us who work until the job is done. And I’m going to get some flak for this, but the people who get promoted, who get raises, and who get recognized are the ones who put in the extra time when it’s needed. Yeah, burnout is a thing, but it’s a lot easier to manage the hours when you’re being recognized for it.

  211. Ad Agency - Sr manager*

    I work in senior management for an ad agency. I work 45 hours a week most of the time. I work hard to ensure the people who report to me aren’t required more than 40 hours. There are some crunch weeks where I work 60+ but I also have the flexibility to take a day or two off without docking PTO outside of busy season. I am required to travel a lot and don’t get a lot of flex time out of that just because of the volume of work, it’s not an hours requirement as much as a personal commitment to getting through all my tasks.

    However, this is unusual in my ad agency experience. I’ve worked at several agencies that want you to basically live there. They don’t have a ping pong table because it’s fun, they have it so you can feel like you have a hobby when you take a break at 8:30 pm. Agencies overall are work til you drop environments, which is why many agencies have high turnover. You need 3-7 years of Agency experience to land in the well paid corporate positions and you’ll see people have 2-4 agencies on their resume in that time.

  212. mooocow*

    I work as a Data Scientist with a 35-hour workweek (the norm at the company is 40 hours). I have full flexibility to come and leave whenever I want (including taking comp days / spreading my work time over 4 days) and can work from home, as long as I’m there for meetings. I’ll often go to doctor’s appointments or the like in the middle of the workday and come back later, and I frequently take Fridays off. The hours are 100% trust based, so no-one checks when I’m there and there’s zero pressure to work more, especially as all tasks are managed via the team as a whole, so there’s nothing that *I* specifically need to get done that couldn’t be picked up by someone else.

  213. Agile Phalanges*

    Late to the game, but when I was a marketing researcher in a small-ish company, I had a lot of flexibility to either work from home or be off-duty as needed for things like doctor’s appointments, etc. I sometimes worked into the evening if I was on a deadline and needed to finish something up and VERY rarely had an either early or late conference call I had to attend. But mostly my non-traveling hours were 8-5, and even when traveling, the core work hours (not counting business meals that were either mandatory or semi-mandatory) were similar. I felt pretty lucky to have that be the case.

    Now, I’m technically salaried/exempt, but working in a tiny company where we have walk-in traffic, so I’m here from 8-5, and need to keep my time out of the office as minimal as possible to avoid inconveniencing my only two other co-workers who man the phones and walk-ins. So it’s not very flexible, but I also don’t have to work a minute past 5 unless I really REALLY want/need to (boss will question it, but if I say I’m finishing up something I’m in the middle of, he doesn’t force me to leave).

    Of course I preferred the former situation with a lot more flexibility but occasional need for non-core hours, but this one isn’t bad, either.

  214. Anon for this*

    Regular poster going anon for this:
    I’m in Emergency Management, so needless to say sometimes I have crazy hours at the last minute. Generally, I work 8-4:30 and don’t have to stay late or anything. I DO have to be available by phone 24/7 and am expected to check emails semi-regularly when out of the office. Occasionally, I have to run in on an evening or weekend to deal with something (temperature-controlled supplies are going out of temperature and the alarm goes to my phone, etc.) but it’s fairly rare. Of course, during an emergency, I’m working 12 hours shifts in an emergency operations center and sleeping on a cot or on the floor for 12 hours, sometimes away from home for a few days, so it really just depends.

  215. Wells*

    I work in administration at a public university. We work 35 hour weeks, 8:30-4:30 with a scheduled one-hour lunch, and zero overtime. This is the norm in my office and in my field, at least regionally.

  216. Sam*

    Am an entry level engineer at a 10,000 employee company. I work 40 hours a week. I’d say every 4 weeks I’ll work an extra hour or two. Nothing too crazy.

  217. Anon-na-na*

    FT student life staff at nonprofit university (director level), and also adjunct professor (1 or 2 classes per semester): I am salaried for 40 hours, no overtime, and a small, flat rate for teaching. University does not believe in “comp time”, though I do give it to my staff and can occasionally get a little time back for myself for medical appointments, etc. Office hours are 8:30-5pm with half hour for lunch. During the semesters I work probably 45-50 hours a week, sometimes more at peak times, with night/evening email sessions, class prep, and events. For example, yesterday I worked 8:30am-9pm, which was a regular work day with an evening orientation event after. The expectation is to do what needs to be done to care for the students, which means going beyond 40 hours on a regular basis.

    The hardest thing about being staff/adjunct prof is that faculty tend to get the lion’s share of praise and attention from University leadership, and it would be nice once in awhile to see staff/adjunct profs get a moment in the sun. I absolutely love my students and the campus community, though, as well as my boss, so the positives outweigh the negatives.

  218. Wink*

    Director of Product Development and Strategy

    50 hrs/week is normal. During product launch prep or our big industry show or sales meeting, it skyrockets to about 70 hrs/week- I’ll stay until 9pm or work through the weekend.

    Most of my time is spent in meetings, and I usually start the day with a 7:30am meeting with our international team members. I spend my lunch catching up on email and most meetings stop around 4:30 or 5 and I’ll catch up on email until I realize I’ve been at work for 10 or more hours. It’s not unusual for me to have evening meetings with our teams in China or India. I have a hard time leaving work and re-starting, so if something really needs to get done or if I have an evening meeting, I’ll stay at the office until it’s done rather than try to go home and pick back up.

    I believe in leadership by example and so I try not to come in too early, stay too late, I rarely send or reply to emails on the weekend, and I absolutely never reply to emails on vacation. My employees work a normal 40 hours and we try to find ways to work smarter, not longer, so that personal time is protected.

  219. former foster kid*

    i’m in the uk so things are different and i have a job contract (as a permanent employee/full time). stipulates 37.5 hours/week. i work 9-5:30 as the stated hours, but in reality more like 9:15/9:30-6 as that works better for me.

    some other members of my team work longer hours, like 830-545, but they don’t get more done with me, i think again it just comes down to people coming and going with the train/tube times that work for them.

  220. Not That Jane*

    I’m a high school teacher at a charter high school. I usually go in around 8:00 and leave around 6:00, plus every month or two I’ll need to work a couple hours on a weekend, or attend an evening event. So… say, between 45-55 hours per week, depending on the time of year.

    Charter schools have a mostly deserved reputation for requiring longer hours, and more hours outside the traditional school day, than district schools.

  221. Noah*

    Answering the three questions directly:

    But does that mean possibly working until close to 10 at night?
    –Yes, it does possibly mean that.

    How is the line defined between work life and home life in this case?
    –it depends on the job. For some jobs, there is no line. For others, the line is you’re expected to work about X hours per week because that’s how many hours the job will ordinarily take. There’s no bright line, but it allows some definition.

    Would it be reasonable to say, “I have commitments this evening and must leave at 5?” or “I can’t meet with a delivery driver or client past X time?”
    –Ever? Yes. Always? No. Allison’s explanation hits the nail on the head.

  222. NorthernSoutherner*

    Before starting a family, I was a magazine editor for years, easily pulling 50-60 hours a week with a lot of travel.
    I was lucky — viable freelance (i.e., enough for a decent salary) was just starting to take hold. Now freelance writers are a dime a dozen… and I mean that literally, the pay has gotten so bad. Anyway, I worked crazy middle-of-the-night hours and absolutely every weekend while spouse had the kids. But I built up a pretty decent portfolio of clients, including the publisher who allowed me to go freelance when my oldest was born.
    Fast-forward 18 years, I’m back to full-time work, and the hours (different industry) average 40/week. We have an “event season” when we’re putting in long days in advance… then taking the day after off. If there’s an early meeting, we leave early. This is consistently how it is, so no complaints here.
    Fairness, I think, is key. Anyone who feels overworked or taken advantage of, or whose hours are being nickel-and-dimed, is not going to give 100%, and I say that both as a former manager and in my current position as a subordinate.

  223. The Claims Examiner*

    My husband works in IT (Windows SysAdmin) and can work pretty much 24/7 if something really bad happens. I have even had to go in with him to help him with issues at past jobs before, so his exempt status really knows no bounds for our family. Thankfully I get to leave my work at the office.

  224. J*

    I work in the restaurant industry so it’s a lot of 10-12 (or more) hour shifts. Right now I’m hourly and work probably between 30 hours/3 days to 50 hours a week/5 days.

  225. Wireless Network deployment*

    I manage large scale network deployments for wireless service providers. Typically, I work 80-100 hours a week, and am expected to do some work, such as expense reports, and company vehicle maintenance on my own time. I worked 7 weeks straight over the summer, 16 hours days, 7 days per week. Tech related fields tend to operate like this.

  226. Anonymouse*

    I’m in live audio production. We commonly pull 14-20 hour days and recently we had to pull a 36 hour shift- setting up the show, operating the show then pack down. Our contract is 38 hours per week, so we were usually earning overtime by Wednesday.

  227. Attack Sheep*

    I’ve worked in a number of fields in the public sector (management now but generally jobs where I manage my own time because I’m not a great schedule person), and also had a private business previously so I’ve seen a lot of work scenarios. Here’s various versions I’ve normal I’ve encountered:

    In the public sector:
    Working til 6, 7, 8pm as unexpected issues arise that need to be addressed. Sometimes, deciding to go home, eat dinner, and continue working on it from home, depending on the nature of the issue.

    Working evenings to attend community events, sometimes unexpectedly, and also to plan events where various issues can arise. I once needed to deliver a cooler before an event the following morning. I had plans at the other end of town for the evening, so I dropped it off, in the dark, at a museum, at 11pm.

    I used to work a role where we all pretty much left at 5pm every day, “closing time,” but those of us with support roles would usually put an hour or two in the evening once kids were in bed or after dinner. I had a colleague in the same role who set very firm boundaries and worked 8-4 every day and never outside of that. She was not perceived as kindly, but the boundaries were accepted.

    In the private sector?
    Being asked to come in early, being asked to stay late. You can usually say no but the ones that don’t are the most valued. Obviously some people can’t for good reasons, so depends on how desperate the employer is and whether the employee has earned goodwill.
    Being asked to do random things like deal with deliveries, where there is not a lot of control over the timing.

    In your case, OP, I think your spouse has the ability to make boundaries but values the flexibility and doesn’t feel a need to set them. You, however, feel he needs to have stronger boundaries around work. This is something the two of you need to discuss. Just as he could say no at 9pm, he could probably easily say “I’m sorry, I can only stay til 6 and then you’ll need to reschedule the delivery for tomorrow”. This is reasonable, but again, if it’s an inconvenience/hardship to his employer for him to do it and it’s only an hour or two once in awhile, he will build a lot more goodwill if he does it (or works something out with the delivery person) than if he just says “no, I can’t work past 6”. Then, if something happens another time, he’s a lot more apt to get the benefit of the doubt as he’s shown his commitment to the work.

    But again, it’s a discussion between the two of you. What he’s doing isn’t unusual or unreasonable but people can and do set boundaries when they want to.

  228. Candace Green*

    I’m an academic dean. We are supposed to be working more or less business hours, though faculty are only expected to be on campus for office hours and meetings and teaching, but frankly, I have serious sleep problems, but am unable to take most sleep meds (medical issue). So I often come in at 10 am, having not been able to sleep until 5 – and there is no way I’d make it in for 8. I have trouble with 7 or 8 am meetings; I’m just dumb as a rock in them and sit silently. My staff know this, so most meetings are set for 10 am or later. (Though I have a lot of early birds! Farm town, my staff explain…) That said, I am always in until after 6 at the earliest, or often much later, and I answer email and do other work in the evenings and weekends from home. I also have some weekend and evening fundraising and travel commitments, several times a year. I am grateful for a relatively flexible workplace; I woukd never be able to work anywhere with strict 8-4:30 policies.

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