do I really need to stay at work late to “show dedication”?

A reader writes:

Thanks to your blog, I found the job of my dreams. I have so much autonomy and my boss is amazing.

I arrive at 7 a.m. to beat the morning traffic. I leave at 4 p.m., again, to beat the traffic. My wonderful boss knows this. She’s in by 9 and out by 5. I have received glowing praise from my boss in the short time I’ve been here.

I live with my dad because I can’t afford to move out. I make $30,000, salary. He insists I should stay later, to “show dedication,” that I should leave after my boss leaves.

Obviously, I stay when I have to get things done. When I do stay, I leave at 6 and get home by 6:30. I’m in bed by 8. I don’t see that being a healthy pattern for the long term.

I don’t understand this advice to prove I’m interested in the job. Is this suggestion outdated or does it have merit?

I do think there was a time when this was common “how to get ahead” advice, but it’s pretty outdated at this point. At least for most bosses, and certainly for good bosses.

Good bosses don’t expect you to put in face time just for the principle of it. They expect you to get great results in your work. If that sometimes means that you need to stay late to get that done, they’ll expect you to do that. But they won’t expect you to do it just to “show dedication.” In fact, they actively won’t want you to do that, because that’s a bad use of your time and contributes to a messed up culture that values the wrong things.

It’s true that there are some bosses who don’t know how to effectively assess performance and so they rely on things like “how often do I see this person here as late as me?” But they’re bad bosses, and the goal is to avoid working for them.

If your boss is happy with your work and you are getting glowing praise, you are in good shape.

Your dad has outdated notions on this one.

{ 265 comments… read them below }

  1. Roscoe*

    I honestly feel that more bosses than not at this point care about asses in seats. Now that doesn’t always equate to staying late though, but they do like people to be there for X amount of time, and often there are core times they want people there for whatever reason. Even if “they” don’t technically care, they do care about the optics. Like, if you were to work 6-2. Well, yeah, people who get in at 9 am may know you were there earlier, but they don’t know how much earlier. Then they see you leaving at 2pm everyday. Many bosses don’t like that.

    My last job, I was in sales. So realistically as long as I’m selling, it really shouldn’t matter what hours I’m there. But our boss (and I know some came from above him) was very adamant that it can’t look like the sales people are coming and going as they please, so you need to be on a regular schedule.

    I hate it with a passion, but I’ve had more bosses than not (and I’d argue most of them were good bosses overall) who did care.

    1. Antilles*

      In fairness, there’s often more than just optics at play, because if your job requires interacting with other team members, having drastically different hours can make everybody else miserable.
      Using your example, being there 6 am to 2 pm can be awful for the rest of the 9 to 5 crew. Everybody else doesn’t show up until 9:00, then they take a few minutes to get settled, then you (on your 6 to 2 schedule) probably take lunch from like 10:00 am to 11:00, then they take their lunch at the normal noon to 1 pm hour…and bam, even though you are both technically working full eight hour days, you’re *actually* only both simultaneously working for like 3 hours of every day.
      If the job only requires minimal coordination, then yeah, it’s fair to say that the bosses really shouldn’t care about butts-in-seats, but for most jobs, it’s pretty reasonable for a boss to want everyone’s core hours to more or less overlap.

    2. EB*

      Yeah, every job I’ve had has a cultural “you need to be in for X amount of time” element. People will tell you to your face that they’re flexible but you have to really feel out your individual workplace and figure out if that’s the case.

      In my previous job the vibe was “you will begin working at 8, if you arrive at 8 you’re late, leave at 12, come back before 1, and leave right at 5 no matter what.” God forbid you had children in daycare and needed to leave a few minutes early. In my current job it is “always arrive before the boss and leave at about 5:10 or later, ideally after the boss even if the boss leaves at 6.” If I show up 5 minutes after my boss one too many times in a row I get the “make sure you’re coming in to work on time!” even though I’m arriving on time per our office’s hours.

      I’m a graphic designer and could work from anywhere with a laptop and wifi, so it’s really all optics.

    3. Close Bracket*

      > they do care about the optics

      Yes, they want to see you cleaning those lenses.

    4. Specialk9*

      I have the opposite experience. The amount of caring is related to competence – super capable bosses value results from competent subordinates, while less capable bosses and/or subordinates focus on butts in seats.

    5. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      You see this in a lot of areas. I was told I couldn’t get comp time for weekend travel because it would look bad to all the office people if I had a bunch of extra time off.

      (Comp time of that nature is actually a contractual and union-backed entitlement in my role, which makes it worse.)

    6. Media Monkey*

      I would agree and i think it is how it looks to other managers, like they don’t manage their team well if someone comes by and there’s no one there to help them. We have (much talked up at interviews but in reality very limited in application as your boss has to approve and most won’t) flexible hours, however there are core hours of 10-3 that you must be there, and i don’t believe lunch hours flex (although we don’t exactly clock in and out for lunch anyway)

    7. Kitty*

      Totally agree and I find this so frustrating too. I don’t know why my organisation seems to value being at my desk for a certain number of hours over just getting my work done to a high standard. I’m fairly certain I could get all of my work done in four days, or five shorter days, but I know if I were to suggest working shorter hours to them they would then expect to pay me less, even though I’d be doing the exact same amount of work. Because capitalism. I mean I understand that some kid of core hours can be necessary for teams that work closely on projects together, but I feel like there’s no flexibility at all, unless you have a very strong reason for it, like parenting a small child.

  2. mark132*

    What the OP’s dad is saying isn’t totally without merit. Some bosses and more often coworkers will make snide observations about people who always leave earlier than them. Mostly because they get in later and don’t see when the other person gets in. I’ve even had coworkers make comments about how late they stay, and I happen to know how late they usually get in, so it’s not very impressive. Sometimes it’s not how long you are there, but how late you leave that gets noticed.

    All that said, as long as your boss knows you are working your hours and more importantly getting your job done, I would leave on time.

    1. Sled Dog Mama*

      There are people who leave earlier than I do and people who leave later than I do. The ones who leave earlier start earlier too, and generally the ones who leave later arrive later too. This is not my business as long their presence or absence isn’t affecting my work and even then I’d talk to my boss, it’s boss’s job to set the hours and currently he’s ok with flexible hours.

    2. Lumen*

      Exactly. This may be outdated advice, but plenty of people (not just bosses but coworkers who like to stir the pot) still fixate on it like it matters.

      I have a coworker who does this – she has no authority in our team, but pointedly praises a teammate of mine for staying late a lot and putting in so many hours and working on weekends, even though it isn’t necessary, required, or sustainable. She’s made comments in the past about how leaving on time when someone else stays late is “rude”. I get here later than she does, so she talks to me like she thinks I’m lazy, even though I stay later and she has no idea how long I’m actually in the office day to day.

      She’s absurd, and I ignore her because she has no influence whatsoever, but I sometimes get concerned that my teammate (who is pretty young and tends to overwork) is absorbing these ideas that she SHOULD be killing herself working long hours and then working from home in the evenings and on weekends. Our company doesn’t demand that sort of thing from people in our role, but they also don’t do a good job of stopping people from overworking, either.

      So OP: manage your own time. Get your hours in, get your work done, and if this becomes an issue, find another place to work. Do not fall into the overwork trap because of other people’s warped ideas.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah I wish this wasn’t true, but to be honest there’s one guy here who is always staying until 7:30 or so and he gets a TON of praise and acknowledgement for that, while everyone kind of side-eyes the people who scoot at 4 every day, even though I’m sure they do get in earlier (I mean, I have no way of knowing this, but I assume they do). I do think if you’re getting praise without doing this, then don’t do it.

        1. BRR*

          It might even work against you. Two of my coworkers often stay late to finish everything they need to get done that day and everybody knows it’s because they’re underperforming (against very reasonable expectations). A good manager will focus on the outcome over the hours.

          1. Alton*

            Yeah, the context really matters. Sometimes people stay late because they can fill that time productively and it makes a difference, and sometimes they stay late because they’re bad at managing their time. I know someone who used to have a boss who’d stay late (and make her stay late) because he spent all afternoon goofing off and only got around to working at 4:30.

            1. AKchic*

              Agreed. When I first started at my last job, we had a guy start right after me in the position I originally applied for.
              (Long story short, I applied for an admin position, then the receptionist put in her notice. I had skills for both, I was desperate for a job and they asked if I’d be willing to take the receptionist job since they needed it. I agreed because I was pregnant with kid 4, needed work and it was a good fit overall. I don’t regret the choice)
              This guy would come in an hour (or more) late every day, take at least a 90 minute lunch, and leave early. He kept his door closed so we never really knew what was up.
              A big project came up and I worked some extra hours. He was asked to work some of those hours with me. He agreed but didn’t show up. I took maternity leave (2 weeks) and he didn’t cover the work at all like he was supposed to.
              I came in for a special project on a Saturday, expecting to be alone. He showed up. No idea why. He locked himself in his office. Our office culture was one where weekend work was extremely rare. In the 8 years I’d been there, I think I worked maybe 3 Saturdays total, all special projects. Overtime was a rarity.
              Then we got an archival project. He fell asleep in the conference room while we were working. I couldn’t wake him, so I reported the incident to our supervisor (concerned, because there may be a medical issue). Nope. Just “tired”.
              They fired him a few weeks later. The next person they hired found so much smut on his computer it was pretty easy to tell what he did with the door closed when he was actually IN the office.

          2. Cordoba*

            Another way habitual overworking can backfire is that the people who work lots of hours all the time don’t actually get much credit for it because managers get used to it and see it as their norm.

            The person who rarely works extra hours will often get more credit for it when they do, because managers see it as them making a special effort.

            I’m a notorious slack-off who consistently starts late and leaves early; the few times I’ve stayed past 5 I’ve been praised for it literally in front of the guy who stays late every day whose effort is taken for granted.

            1. Workfromhome*

              This is so true. At my last (dysfunctional) workplace it was the accepted norm that when you travelled (which we did a lot) that you’d always work in your hotel room until 11 or 12 PM so you could have stuff done for clients that you didn’t get to while you were “out of the office” during the day. We’d have posted turnarounds for things of 5 business days. You blast through a bunch of these requests in a hotel when traveling getting them done in one day vs 5. Next time a request took 3 or 4 days (still less than the posted 5) people would scream how you were slow and asking for updates why it hadn’t been done yet?

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          Comments like that are the number one sign of a clueless manager who has no idea what people actually do.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            Sorry, just to be clear, I meant comments by co-workers and bosses about when people leave for the day. I did not mean to imply that commenters here participating in this thread are in any way clueless.

          2. Alternative Person*

            Yeah, one of the part-timers at work always comes in an hour early (before the manager some days) and hangs around best part of fifteen minutes or more after everyone else normally would have been done but she needs to do heaven knows what. The manager seems to think she hangs the moon. Drives me nuts.

        3. Pollygrammer*

          Yeah, it’s pretty normal in many workplaces for the person who regularly jets out at 5pm on the dot to get a bit of side-eye, IME. (Infuriatingly, often only non-parents get judged like that though).

        4. DJ Roomba*

          I have a coworker who gets here about 5 mins before everyone else (I’ve had to come in for 8am meetings a few times so I’ve seen her normal arrival times) and leaves right after the last member of our team leaves. I am usually the latest in (somewhere around 9) and I WOULD be the last one out if she didn’t wait for me to pack up and walk away from my desk first. There have been several times when I’ve doubled back to my desk to grab something and see that now that I’m leaving my coworker is packing up.

          It’s annoying.

          1. Anonymoose*

            Have you said anything to her? Like ‘you know you don’t have to wait for me, right? Nobody expects you to stay.’

            1. DJ Roomba*

              Yeah I made a joke about it (which was a little passive-aggressive if I’m honest) but she pretended not to know what I was talking about

              1. Nanani*

                Try saying something directly? It’s pretty hard to read between the lines of jokes, and she might genuinely not know what you were on about.

          2. mark132*

            I think some people like being a “martyr”. Me personally I’ll take work/life balance.

            1. DJ Roomba*

              YES! I agree with this wholeheartedly. It would be fun to play games (as mentioned below) but I’d rather just leave when I want and let her deal with her own neuroses

          3. Khlovia*

            If you have any flexibility at all in your evening-after-work schedule, you could have some fun with that….

            Establish a pattern of “doubling back” five minutes later, so she gets used to that and loiters that extra five minutes. Then ten minutes. Then leave ten minutes early for several days in a row. Then sit in your car until you see her emerging, and run for the door yelling “Don’t lock that!” Then right on time for a week. Etc.

            Of course if you’ve got a kid to pick up or cats to feed, you can’t play around like that; but one can dream.

      2. Aaaaaaanon.*

        But sometimes these busybody colleagues are the ones you need to get buy-in from, not your manager. I’ve been that young teammate who’s needed to over-work to gain approval from someone who doesn’t sign off on my performance reviews. It sucked, but TBH it was the least annoying way for me to prove my credibility to them.

      3. mark132*

        I once let my manager know about a coworker who was working insane hours to complete stuff. Part of it was because I didn’t think he needed to do it. The project wasn’t anywhere near that important. Part of it was self interest. I didn’t want our business partners thinking that I would do the same thing.

    3. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I used to get that when I left at 3pm every day. The comments stopped when I loudly pointed out that I was already at my desk working when they were getting out of bed in the morning. I had a great boss who knew what was getting done.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        The problem with that is that sometimes it DOES matter which 8 hrs you’re working. The unprepared manager is going to lean on the people who are working past 5 when they need something done at the last minute. As the person who leaves earlier, it’s great for you because you don’t have to do extra work or stay late when the manager doesn’t plan ahead. But, on the performance review side, the person who normally leaves at 5 pm and gets all the 4:59 tasks and puts in time till 7 pm many days to solve the manager’s problems is going to stand out in the boss’s mind.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          I agree with this. We have a lot of work that comes in at the end of the day. Just depends on your situation.

        2. Optimistic Prime*

          Depends on the manager. I usually arrive between 7:30 and 8:30, and my manager’s manager is also an early arriver – so he often asks me to do things or comes by to bounce ideas off me because I’m there early and not many other people are. We both leave between 4 and 5 every day so there wouldn’t be any extra work on the back end.

          In fact, I’d say in general that I am more likely to asked to get something done before 10 am than after 4 pm.

          1. TurquoiseCow*

            In my office, I often found I got some one-on-one talk with the boss after 5PM. I’d stop by to ask a quick question, and it would snowball into a longer “state of the department” type discussion that others didn’t have. He also came in early (and I didn’t), so maybe he had similar discussions in the morning, but he was also the type to hit the ground running first thing (I’d often come in to notes on my keyboard, or “urgent” emails), where as at the end of the day he was more introspective.

            Definitely a “know your office/boss” thing.

        3. NotAnotherMananger!*

          It’s also a matter of knowing your industry. I can often approve requests to shift hours later in the day fairly easily, but I work in a client services industry and is driven by client demand and nutty deadlines, which skews later in the day, so allowing people to leave early would unfairly burden the “late shift”. I do have a team that is staggered by half-hours (8:30, 9:00, 9:30, and 10 a.m. start times), but there is no way I could have someone leave at 3 or 4 p.m. every day and maintain parity within the group’s workload.

          That said, I don’t need people to hang around past their end-time just so I see them. I know who’s working and who’s productive. The people with the most and least hours are the least productive; the person with middling hours is a productivity machine.

        4. TardyTardis*

          I got a later shift than most people at ExJob, because one manager always stayed late, and because of Sox (Sarbanes-Oxley) knew she should not be posting accounts payable stuff that she would have to look over for errors or deal with at the same time. She emailed around for volunteers for the 9-6 shift (way late for that corporate culture), and I was shouting ‘me! me! me!’ the second the message went out. I got a little side eye coming in that late (we really did have people working 6 to 3 w/ hour lunch), but oh well…fortunately our parking lot was well-lit and the building has good security, so when it was dark I didn’t feel unsafe even when I was the last person in the building, or at least on the floor.

      2. SarahTheEntwife*

        I just switched my hours to 7am-3pm this week because we’re opening earlier and it still feels so subversive to get out at 3. Somehow my brain forgets that I’m up at 5:30 ;-)

        1. RJ the Newbie*

          Those are almost the same hours as me! (I’m 7am to 4pm). Good luck on your new schedule. It takes some getting used to, but you’ll get the swing of being up at 5:30am.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          My hours at my new job are 7-3:30! It’s definitely taking some getting used to.

        3. DrWombat*

          I know right? Starting work before 6am means that my sense of when it’s reasonable to leave has skewed a bit, even if I’ve gotten everything I need to do/can do today done, part of my brain is like ‘wait what’? In grad school the whole lab worked 8-5 but here, we start a lot earlier. You do get used to waking up early eventually – I tend to listen to very upbeat music on my commute to help jumpstart the brain as well.

        4. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

          I just started my summer hours 1130am-730pm. I’m a morning person up with the sunrise so I’m awake at 500am which gives me time to get my own things done.

        5. Sans*

          I used to work from 7 – 3:30. The company was fine with it, their official flex time was “come in between 7 and 10, leave between 3:30 – 6:30”. But the people who came in late and left late always got the praise for all the hours they were supposedly putting in. I remember one VP praising one of my coworkers because she was always still in the office when he left at 6. Afterwards she shrugged and said she always comes in at 10, so leaving at 6:30 wasn’t exactly putting in extra hours. But that was always the perception.

          However, I’ve mostly had bosses that don’t care when you work, as long as you get your work done. I leave at 4 pm 90% of the time, and I got an excellent review and bonus this year. Good managers don’t watch the clock. And it sounds like the OP has a good manager, so I don’t think she has a need to stay late for no reason.

        6. Gadget Hackwrench*

          I’m 7 to 3:30 and most of my shift is 7:30 to 4. It wasn’t my choice, this is what I was scheduled. There’s a few people a half hour earlier than everyone else on each shift, so that there’s never an “everybody shift change!” time of day. Continuous coverage. I still feel like I’m being side-eyed when I’m leaving by the 7:30 people, like I’m leaving “early.” My boss darn well knows different, and because it’s an hourly position you don’t stay late without clearance for overtime, but it can still be awkward with colleges… even if they KNOW from the posted scheduled, that I’m a half hour ahead of them.

      3. Kathleen_A*

        I have the exact opposite problem because while the official start time is 8 a.m., my boss is a total morning person and is nearly always here by 7:30, while I (by special arrangement because I am so NOT a morning person, and also because I’ve worked here a long time) am allowed to get here at 8:30.

        Mostly my boss understands this – I mean, she’s the one who said I could get in at 8:30 – but every now and then I do get a slightly acerbic comment. Fortunately, no one else on my team is a morning person, either, so those snotty comments are spread around, and even more fortunately, my boss does (except in her acerbic moments) realize that I put in all the hours I’m supposed to and more, and that I get my work done.

        But it does make her *so happy* when I get here early, which I sometimes do.

    4. BRR*

      I’m the first one in at work and usually get in 30 min early as well. I’ve occasionally heard snide remarks about how I leave at 4:30 on the dot every day (to catch my train). Thankfully my manager doesn’t care. Just to settle my own paranoia, I try and occasionally send some emails either from the train in the morning or when I get in as a reminder that I start much earlier than everybody else.

      1. Peaches*

        I’ve done this too! I leave promptly at 5pm for daycare pickup. Everyone knows this. But during our peak season when most people stay until 7-8pm I definitely get side-eyes and grumbles. Yes, I go home at 5 and parent my child before she goes to bed. I also log on from home afterwards and work until about 11pm and will send emails and comments to my staff and team so it’s clear I’m still working. And I am the manager haha.

      2. CMart*

        I’m in earlier than everyone on my team (to compensate for a hard end time as well) and do the e-mail thing too. I have no idea if anyone pays attention, but I like to think the fact that sometimes I’ll send an e-mail at 8:02am means people know/assume I’m here and actively working before they are.

        It’s probably not even necessary in my office, with just a few exceptions during busy periods it’s very much “idk just get your work done”. But I like having the ‘paper’ trail anyway.

      3. Kj*

        I used to do that to my boss- send her an email at 8 when I started work, then another at 7pm when I left, just to remind her that I worked 11 hours…and make sure when I left a little earlier the next day that no one had room to comment……since I started work before everyone else most days and often worked later too. Maybe it was passive aggressive, but it worked.

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I only got mad at the people who got there after me, left before me, did not take their laptop home (like I had to) and then complained they had too much to do and could I just do this report for them like I used to (when in a different role) because that position hadn’t been filled yet? For the first couple of months sure! Over a year later? Fuck off

    6. Quickbeam*

      Very true. I am salaried and start at 5 AM to get extra hours in. I leave at 3:30 PM. No lunch. You’d think I work half time when I leave based on the comments. But if people work 15 minutes late they are heroes. Work places like this still exist.

    7. Sharon*

      From what I can see in my corporate jobs, that attitude is still prevalent in upper management and the C-suite. Your direct boss might be enlightened and modern but if those above him still have this attitude and you don’t put in the “face time” it can still hamper your growth at the company.

      Just for example, where I work now we have several levels of employee awards. Level 1 is what we can nominate each other for. Levels 2-3 are randomly chosen by the management team from the pool of level 1 winners for the past quarter. Level 4, also known as the President’s Award, is chosen by the C-suite from the pool of level 2 and 3 winners of the past year. Last year’s President’s Award winner was chosen because she not only participated in a major, extremely visible, project but also because she stayed late working until 11pm every night until it was done. They actually cited that as the reason in the award presentation in front of the entire company.

    8. CoveredInBees*

      I had two colleagues who decided to complain to our manager that I didn’t work the same hours they did. We had the same title but entirely separate caseloads that didn’t have any interaction with each other. We simply had different work styles. I liked to get in, be super focused and get the heck out. As did my office mate. They (officemates with each other) liked to take longer lunches with the occasional dance or meditation breaks, resulting in longer hours. (We worked in a public interest law non-profit so stress relief like that was appropriate and encouraged.) Since they worked certain hours, they thought I should be doing the same and decided to take it up with our boss. Luckily, our boss shut them down saying that my work was excellent and reminding them to talk to people when they have issues with them instead of immediately running to her.

    9. sfigato*

      I have coworkers who work longer hours than me and genuinely do a lot more, but I have also worked with a lot of people who worked longer hours because they sucked at time management. Or they were more producted in the evenings.Just make sure you are getting your work done and well, and keep that work-life balance.

      1. Cobol*

        That’s me! And I’m closer to burnout than others. So, OP if you’re reading this don’t work long hours just to do it.

      2. KR*

        I’m the sucking at time management coworker right now. I know I tend to stay late too because if I know I’m really not focused and fooling around all day I want to force myself to try to get at least 7 hours of productive work in!

    10. Oxford Comma*

      My coworker, Stannis, notes who shows up late and who leaves early. We’re all salaried, but ANY instance of irregularity is noted. One of our other coworkers leaves early all the time, but gets an astonishing amount of work done, far more than we all do, but Stannis is still fixated on the fact that she leaves early. And Stannis, I might add, is under 30.

      So it is a perception that exists.

      1. Specialk9*

        Could you call Stannis out on that publicly? “Dude why are you so obsessed with hours instead of output, when you’re not even our manager? It’s really weird and makes you seem like a rookie.”

    11. MoreNowAgain*

      Unfortunately this is true. It took me several years to finally understand that, for me personally, this is a red flag to look out for in new work environments and to keep in mind during interview processes. Once I recognized this as something I wanted to actively avoid, it helped guide me in what industries would be the best fit for me. Now I work in a job I love at a company (co-op technically) that has flexible hours and makes it clear that the only thing that matters is work output and quality. We’ve had a few people who have taken it upon themselves to ‘monitor’ people’s comings and goings, and its always been shut down quickly. Anytime I’ve heard someone mention another individual’s schedule in a negative or nosey way, they’ve been told to mind their business.

      This is rare, I know – but these work environments do exist if you seek them out!

      1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

        Just curious – what are some ways or questions you use to keep an eye on this? Or how did you figure out which industries this generally seems to work for?

      2. Specialk9*

        Yeah me too. Flexibility is important.

        I have very high output, and make sure to capture that in weekly status updates, and to clearly communicate when I need something from them — that way my manager knows that they can trust me to do my thing without them having to get into the weeds. (It helps that I’m in a niche industry and they have other expertise.)

        Practically, that means nobody monitiring when I come or go, or hassling me if I have a doctor’s appointment or need to lie down when I have a migraine.

        So OP, my advice is, whatever career you’re in now, figure out a professional cert you can work towards. Certs are so much cheaper than degrees, but so powerful, and demonstrate you’re someone who is dedicated to self improvement.

    12. TechServLib*

      One of my coworkers has a similar opinion to your dad, OP. I’m an hourly employee and my day is 8-5 with an unpaid hour for lunch. My coworker has the same hours as I do but slightly higher pay due to seniority (I make $12/hr, he makes $13). He regularly stays until 5:30 or so, despite our boss telling him not to because it puts the company at a liability risk for overtime pay. He argues that it’s fine because he doesn’t enter the extra time in his time card. He’s told me that I need to stay later as well to show that I’m being careful and taking my time with tasks because if I always leave on time, it will look like I rushed through things at the end of the day (I’m out the door by 5:01). I think this is ridiculous since he’s the one doing exactly what our boss told him not to do, so I ignore him. OP, go with what your boss says and has indicated to you about your work. Staying late does NOT mean you’re more dedicated or any better an employee.

      1. AKchic*

        Oh boy. So, your coworker is okay with insubordination (disregarding/ignoring a manager’s direct order to not do what he’s doing) and timecard fraud in order to show some nebulous “proof” that he pays attention to details? That is so bass ackwards and your boss should be writing him up for it.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        This is hard core against the rules where I work. If your coworker worked for me and I found out that he was working off the clock, the very least he would get would be a closed-door meeting complete with stern talking to and a written warning in his file.

        1. Specialk9*

          In my old industry he would have been fired, and the whole company could have faced incredibly steep fines.

          1. Overworked and Underpaid*

            Oooh, so that’s what the actual legal situation is. Good to know!

            I once worked at a job where we were encouraged to work off the clock. It was by the store manager and I imagine the district or regional managers weren’t aware, but we had to do closing duties for a small store (registers, computer report, bookkeeping, plus cleaning the whole thing) and were expected to clock out no more than 30 minutes after the official closing time of the store. The store manager would talk about how you could start cleaning and getting ready early, before the store closed, which was true on some nights, but other times you’d get that shopper coming in 5 minutes before the store closed and dawdling around, or even worse, a rush of people close to closing who would mess up things you had just cleaned up. You definitely couldn’t mop the front floor before the store was closed. So all told, often it was hard if not impossible to get everything done in 30 minutes so she would tell us to clock out no matter what and if we had to finish up, do it off the clock.

            I am so glad I don’t work there anymore. I don’t even want to think about how much time I worked unpaid while I was there.

      3. Been There, Done That*

        This is the first mention I’ve seen of overtime in relation to staying late, and I’m so glad. My state has very strict laws about overtime pay–anything over 8 hours is overtime. Comp time in lieu of overtime pay is permitted if worker voluntarily requests it before working the overtime. My firm is based in another state, but they have offices countrywide and are used to dealing with different laws on overtime. We also have a written policy against overtime.

        However, my boss has always been exempt from overtime and even after several years of managing non-exempt staff still Just. Does. Not. Get it. If the phone rings or a customer comes in at one minute till closing, she expects us to provide service no matter how long it takes. Adding to the pressure, her favorite/longest-term employee believes staying late, working thru unpaid lunch hour, etc., is “teamwork.” I can be flexible and I never mind working overtime when required, but not as a free volunteer.

    13. Anonymoose*

      Yep to the coworkers comment. I had a job in a competitive field but me and the GM would leave at 4 or 430 – while totally growing our site’s profit. My staff and coworkers gave me shit (does anybody know the term LIFO – last in, first out? Basically calling someone a slacker) because they still thought that I should stay later than the GM, despite being the person who opened the office an hour earlier than the first person’s in time. Annoying. I asked my GM and he replied that he didn’t give a shit as long as I got my work done and that leaving early was the benefit of ‘being the boss’.

      My point is that it may be ‘outdated’ but it’s still a common perception in corporate fields. I think generationally this will go away, depending on the field. For instance, you can’t get away with just 8 hours for a start up, regardless of field. You work 12 hrs a day because you’re building a business, and hopefully they’re paying you for that dedication. But just your normal admin job? No. Do your 8 hrs and get home.

    14. Isabel*

      You work to live not live to work….

      Also if you don’t maintain work life balance you’ll end up miserable burned outnand nonporoductive….

      1. Artemesia*

        In my experience in many roles over the years, the people who stay late often and lug giant briefcases home are usually not the productive people, they are the disorganized who ding around all day chatting and surfing the net and then ‘have to stay late’. They are also often people who don’t want to go home. I have known several men who had to work late and reveled in missing the dinner prep, kid monitoring, getting kids ready for bed etc that his also working wife took care of.

    15. The Original K.*

      I had a boss at a previous job who really valued work/life balance, and then he left and his successor did not, at all. She typically worked 7-7, weekends (she woke someone up at 6 AM on a Saturday who wasn’t even in our department – she just had a question about something related to what he did), and would absolutely judge you for leaving “early” at 5:30 (one person left at 5 to pick up her kid and Boss always had something to say about it). She completely changed the culture of the department. It sucked.

    16. Free Meerkats*

      I had one of those who started later than I did. I worked 0700-1530 and she worked 0900-1730. After about the third, “Leaving early?” snide comment, I started in with, “Glad to see you could finally make it in.” the next morning. It shut her down.

      But I am comfortable being confrontational with asshats.

    17. Beth C.*

      In most places I’ve worked I have the opposite issue. I’ll tend to take the later shift, right now I’m pretty solidly 10-6:30 or 7. I ended up in this shift because I was staying late to deal with last minute issues so often I was starting to work 45-50 hours a week on the regular to everyone else’s 40, so i told my manager I was going to come in later and she is fine with it.

      I’ll get in at my usual time, everything is fine, and then someone will make a snarky comment about “well, you weren’t here yet so I did x…” or something like that. Basically, some people just want to feel superior or martyr themselves and need to find some way to make things about how they are so much more deserving/put upon/loyal etc. than others.

      I will say I have gotten in the habit of usually finding some reason to send my manager an email at the end of the day and definitely do so every time I stay late just so that timestamp is in her inbox, just in case. Even if she doesn’t notice in the moment, it’s there should I need it.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        I’ve said things like “you weren’t here yet so…” without any snarky intention. I understand when a colleague works different hours. It’s not rocket science! :D The times I’ve said that I was trying to make sure my colleague had info I thought they needed. I’m surprised to learn it may have been perceived as snarky. I hope not!

    18. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’ve had that where I work now. The team I was in when I started here was very hot flexible working; our director’s view was ‘I don’t care where and when you do your work, just do it by the deadline and don’t make unreasonable demands of people’ (ie if you want to work at midnight or 4AM that’s fine, but don’t expect a response from other colleagues outside office hours). He himself worked from home most days as he didn’t live in the city my organisation is based in. I was also lucky that I had other senior team members who walked the walk and would regularly work from home, or not stay late because they had a life outside the office. But whilst no-one ever said anything, we would still get dirty looks from people in other teams when we dared to leave bang on 5PM, or even earlier. Personally I’m of the view that if the OP’s boss knows and is OK with the current setup, then there’s nothing to worry about.

  3. Anonymous Poster*

    I start work while commuting on mass transit and leave a bit early to continue working on mass transit on some days. My workday looks short, but folks see my output is fine.

    It really depends on your culture, and my current employer is 100% fine with this. Others may not be. As long as your manager is okay with what you’ve been doing, then this is fine.

    Maybe your dad will come around (mine didn’t). It’s not really worth the fight, past a, “My manager knows my work schedule and has been happy with it” comment, I’d bet.

    1. Anonymoose*

      See but that only works if there’s enough transparency that your colleagues understand your output. If you were more siloed, you’d still look like a slacker.

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        That’s not true at all. My colleagues know what kind of work I do, but don’t see the output. Only my customers do. Now, my customers are happy, so my colleagues aren’t worried, but we’re pretty siloed and have no idea what one another is working on in detail day-to-day.

        These sorts of blanket statements are troubling.

  4. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    And valuing the wrong things leads to burnout. Which you DEFINITELY don’t want.

    As long as your boss is happy and you’re getting glowing reviews, keep on with what you’re doing!

  5. Abe Froman*

    More great advice from Dad: at your next performance review, ask for a pay decrease to show it’s not about the money for you.

    1. Thornus67*

      Sounds like my dad who said it was unprofessional (his word) of his younger colleagues to use their entire allotment of PTO each year (in a use it or lose it system) because “we were hired to work, not take time off.”

      1. Phouka*

        Oh, the bizarre advice about taking PTO that I got from my dad.

        Don’t ever take a day off in the first year of your job.
        Don’t take more than 5 days off at a time.
        Don’t use all your time off, it shows you are only in it for the money
        Never take a vacation more “fancy” than your boss (ie, don’t go to Paris if they are Dollywood fans)
        Anything more than two weeks vacation is ridiculous, you don’t need to ask for more and you should only accept two weeks (“because that’s normal”) when you accept the job.

        He never quite understood why I totally ignored all his advice.

        1. Thursday Next*

          At a certain point, “advice” becomes good guidance for what *not* to do.

        2. Nea*

          I am only in it for the money. I mean, I like my job, but it’s not a hobby. They get my work and I get their money. That is very literally the deal here.

          1. Bea*

            My hobby is collecting money and swimming in it like Scrooge McDuck at some point in my life. Working is how I work on my big dream, I’m still going to take time off though.

        3. LBK*

          I always wonder – was there a time when this was actually valid advice? Especially when outdated advice like this comes from (white) men I have to wonder how much of it was them making up their own arbitrary rules and assuming that’s why they were successful when it reality it was probably mostly just privilege.

          1. Thursday Next*

            I think parts of it were valid, in certain fields/roles/companies. My husband’s grandfather (born in 1919) would say stuff like this. And way back, when I worked in Japan, there was definitely a certain kind of Salaryman/Salarywoman ethos about staying late.

          2. BenAdminGeek*

            Since much of this terrible advice stems back to times when women and people of color weren’t particularly welcome in the workplace, I don’t think it was privilege helping them there. I’d chalk it up to regular old cluelessness.

            1. LBK*

              That’s what I’m saying, though – you could pretty much get and keep any job by nature of being a white guy. Your competition was dramatically reduced.

            2. Specialk9*

              I think LBK’s point was that people generally refuse to believe that the world was handed to them on a player just for being white and male, so they had to make up elaborate justifications about how they deserve it.

          3. Been There, Done That*

            I’ve known (white) guys and others who came of age in the Great Depression when a job was a job and you did what you had to do to hang onto it no matter what, otherwise your family didn’t eat. Also remembering the Great Recession not so long ago and the rising conventional wisdom that if you took more than a week off your employer would see that they could actually do without you so your job was a risk. Good point about how these truisms get started.

        4. Gotham Bus Company*

          The advice about not taking a fancier vacation than the boss’ is hilarious. Has anyone ever been written up for this? Am I supposed to ask the boss what he has planned for next year? What if the boss has no plans, or intends to stay at home?

      2. Jadelyn*

        I don’t get the mentality that PTO is like some kind of generous perk you shouldn’t abuse. It’s part of my damn compensation, that means I am entitled to use it, and yes, use every last scrap of it if I want to. In California, you actually are *required* to pay out someone’s accrued unused vacation hours when they leave, literally on the logic that PTO is part of the person’s compensation package and it’s owed to them just like final wages when they quit.

        1. Arielle*

          In Massachusetts, too, which is why I firmly believe that companies who have “unlimited PTO” are perpetuating a scam.

          1. Aitch Arr*

            I agree on the ‘unlimited PTO’ running afoul of MA and CA laws about vacation. It will be interesting to see what the AGs do about it, if anything.

            1. Dzhymm*

              That’s very interesting… I recently worked for a company in MA that had unlimited PTO… which came in VERY handy when I was hospitalized for a month.

          2. Antilles*

            Worth noting that even in states *without* unlimited PTO, it’s still a scam. Maybe not an intentional one, but most research has found that companies with ‘unlimited’ PTO actually take significantly less vacation days than similar companies with the standard “here’s X days of PTO per year”.

          3. Gazebo Slayer*

            Yup. And “unlimited PTO” is especially popular at tech companies. Guess which two states have a lot of tech companies!

        2. Been There, Done That*

          My employer sent out a memo a couple of years back telling people they should use that time, not only for their own benefit and enjoyment but also because it’s a company liability to have it on the books year after year. One aspect of work-life balance they support 100%.

    2. Kyubey*

      Because everyone knows that we only work for fulfillment; who needs money? It’s not like we have bills or rent to pay or anything. /s

      1. Ceiswyn*

        Genuine exchange from an interviewer:

        Interviewer: So why do you want to work here?
        Me: I heard a rumour that you’re going to pay me.

        I got the job :)

  6. Peter the Bubblehead*

    If the letter writer is non-exempt, her job would not let her work more than 40 hours a week anyway unless overtime is authorized.
    If she works 7am to 5pm every day, the optics would not be any better if she left every Friday at 9am!

    1. BRR*

      I attended a college graduation where the speaker said he would show up early and stay late without asking to be paid and encouraged the graduating students to do the same to show they’re hard workers. I was really tempted to shout, “that’s illegal!”

      1. Glowcat*

        and a recipe for fast burnout :(
        sad to hear such advice given to young students.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          But… but gumption!!! (Eyeroll)

          Seriously though, I learned in my first year of teaching that the only prizes for coming early, staying late, and working through lunch were no life, no friends, and being tired all the time.

          1. Glowcat*

            same! And had I heard such advice from some “official” source it would have been even harder to shake off guilt for having a life. Yeah…. gumption (eyeroll).

      2. Jadelyn*

        *twitches slightly* Yeah don’t…don’t do that. Good employers will actually crack down hard on you for doing that, because it’s setting them up for a potential wage theft lawsuit down the line if you ever change your mind about being generous.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      ^ This! I feel like this advice is often given by people who forget about non-exempt status. Most companies don’t want you pointlessly running up overtime — if they want you to stay late (or come in early) they will tell you!

    3. SpaceNovice*

      Even some exempt jobs don’t allow more than 40 hours as a policy to avoid burnout or because you work on a client site where you’re not allowed to charge more than 40 hours per week to the client.

      1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

        My current job runs on fear of anyone working overtime. You are out the door when your shift ends whether or not you want to stay to finish up work.

    4. Close Bracket*

      > the optics would not be any better

      You can align lenses just as well at 4 pm as you can at 5 pm!

    5. ErinW*

      Yeah, I’m non-exempt, and if my boss catches me staying late to finish something, she’ll be like, “Go home now.” And if I say, “just twenty more minutes before this thing is done,” she’ll be like, “Come in late tomorrow, then.” This place canNOT afford overtime and she does not want to have to approve it.

      We also believe in work-life balance. She has also said things like, “That work will still be waiting for you in the morning.”

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        My department has possible crunch time at the end of each month, and my manager will evaluate throughout the last few days whether overtime will be or might be needed based on workflow. Only a few of us work past 4:30pm on regular days. On May 1st, she sent an email thanking the team for working so efficiently that on a team of twelve people we used up a combined total of less than an hour of OT.

        We also have workarounds in place for next-day finishing, so really if I’m working past my end time it’s because I actually only have a few more minutes left on whatever I’m doing. If I know at ten minutes before I’m scheduled to leave that I have too much left to do, I can put it on pause and finish it first thing the next morning.

    6. smoke tree*

      Much like my employer’s view on staying late is that no one acknowledges if you do it, but you get penalized if you don’t do it, our view on being “salaried” is that we don’t get any pay or comp time for working overtime, but we have to use vacation time if we don’t work 40 hours a week.

  7. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    I had a bad manager who wanted us to stay past 5 because “it hurts my feelings when you rush out the door.” She actually said that. She needed visible evidence that we were “dedicated” to our jobs in order to feel good about herself. She was a bad manager in many ways.

    I have a good manager now, and he knows I have to leave right at 4:30 most days to pick up my kid. He also knows, and has seen, me stay later to get some things done if it’s warranted. But he does his best to make sure we don’t burn ourselves out and work unnecessary overtime. He gave me high praise during my reviews, and commented that I manage my time very well. He’s a very good manager in many ways.

    So no, you don’t have to stay to show your dedication for most bosses, especially the good ones.

    1. Roscoe*

      Ha, I never had that. But I did have managers ask “Do you like your job, because it seems you can’t wait to rush out at 5 on the dot”. Yes, I have a life outside of work, and want to enjoy it.

    2. Jadelyn*

      …wow. If you’re relying on your employees to basically sacrifice their personal time to satisfy your emotional needs, you have A Problem and shouldn’t be managing anyone til you deal with whatever it is in you that’s making you cling to your employees like that. Yeesh.

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        The kicker was when she added, “It’s like you’d rather be at home than at work.” Um…yes? She was a gem!

        1. Jadelyn*

          Ohhhhh my god that’s a hell of a thing to say to your employees. Hmm…spending time at a place where I am stuck here aside from specific allotted break times, I have specific tasks I have to complete whether I see any value in them or not, I am around a bunch of people I probably wouldn’t be friends with if we weren’t forced to be together 40 hours a week, vs spending time at a place where I can basically do what I want and the only tasks I have to complete are ones that have a real effect on my quality of life so I have real motivation to do them, with people and/or pets who I’ve chosen to share my space with and whose company I enjoy a great deal. Gosh, that’s a hard choice to make.

          1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

            This was at a small private college that had a rampant “dedicate your life and soul to the nonprofit” mindset. If you didn’t enthusiastically work 60+ hours a week, donate 30% of your salary back to the college, and actively recruit students wherever you went, you weren’t “dedicated” enough. She also told us once that the way to “get ahead” there was to come in early, work through lunch, and stay late. Cue more blank stares.

            So, OP, yes there are some places where that is what it takes to get ahead. But I quit after 2 years because the culture was toxic and very stressful! (Also – even if you did all those things, if you weren’t male, then it wouldn’t make a difference anyway!)

            1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

              ***I really should have said “to the cause”, not the nonprofit. There are many for-profit places with this mindset, and plenty of wonderful nonprofits that treat people like adults with lives. My apologies!

        2. Been There, Done That*

          Well, like, yeah! Home is where the beer is, and the home-cooked dinner, and the family, and the movies and books and board games. Paltry trifles compared to invoices, cube farms, and bad coffee, maybe, but I’m a hedonist.

    3. MicroManagered*

      I had a bad manager who wanted us to stay past 5 because “it hurts my feelings when you rush out the door.” She actually said that.

      *Chills* My old manager said that too…. I thought there could be only one of her… She used to deliberately save things for 5 minutes before you were leaving, or worse–when you were walking out–and it was always stuff that could’ve been brought up earlier in the day, or easily waited for the next day.

    4. Sans*

      The best boss I had said when he was interviewing me “Yeah, we work hard, but we go home on time. I’m in the office at 7:00 and out at 3:30, because I also have a life.” I knew he was the right boss for me then and there.

      My mom used to be concerned that I was leaving work at 3:30 – it seemed so early to her. I assured her that most of the time I was sharing an elevator with my boss, who was leaving at the same time.

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      Management’s attitude to this is so important. At my previous job, most people in the press office were supposed to work roughly 9-5, but we also had two people (a press officer and a junior) to do the morning shift and cover morning news bulletins, one person to do the late shift and cover evening news, and one person on call overnight. However, because there were senior people who weren’t the morning person coming in early, or not the evening person but staying late, that created a culture where even the juniors would come in at 7 and leave at 7 despite being told we could leave at 5, because of this weird pressure that anything else was seen as slacking off somehow. It was the shortest commute I’ve ever had, and yet I was shattered all. The. Time. because of that long hours culture, even though we weren’t necessarily doing useful work at that hour.

      Where I work now, whilst most people work 9-5 (although we do have a lot of remote workers), there is very much a culture of not staying unnecessarily late and that is very much driven by managers consistently leaving on time, having regular work from home days, checking that people aren’t working late unnecessarily, and generally being a lot more flexible. Although it shouldn’t, in a way that feels like ‘giving permission’ not to spend all your time at work, and I think it’s hugely helpful for work-life balance to have senior people setting the example in that regard.

  8. Hope*

    The people whose opinion matters in this situation are you and your boss. Not your dad. As long as this schedule works for you and your boss, what your dad thinks/suggests really doesn’t matter, and might even be detrimental to your job performance.

    This is true of most work things, honestly. Your parents don’t work for your boss, and often parental ideas about how to impress your boss are too generic/outdated to be useful to you, especially if everything has been going well and your boss has been giving you positive feedback. It might be different if your boss was upset with you or you were having trouble getting your work done, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

    1. designbot*

      This. Your parents don’t work with your boss, for your company, or possibly even in your industry. Depending on circumstances, they may or may not even still be in the workforce at all. Generic, outdated advice is exactly what I’d expect from them—they’d have to have some specific reason for having insight for me to even suspect it of being valuable. I know one woman who works at the same company her mother’s worked at for 30 years; THAT mom gets to give career advice.

  9. dr_silverware*

    You’re getting glowing praise–that’s great! And I agree that your dad is wrong with his specific advice to stay late to “get ahead.”

    But I think there’s actually value in the advice to show dedication. Your boss sounds wonderful, but not having your hours overlap, or leaving “early” (though you’ve completed your entire day), may still burn a tiny amount of capital. So make it easy for your wonderful boss to be wonderful to you by continuing to do great work–and also by being quite forthright about your dedication, by being very responsive to communication and welcoming of requests. Things that may come quite naturally to you, but are still worth thinking about.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I agree with this nuanced response. This is 100% worth burning a small amount of capital on for the people who do it (picking up kids, beating traffic, etc) – but I don’t want to pretend there’s not a tiny bit of side-eyeing that goes on when people are out the door right at 4:00 here. I no longer try to get in early because of it – I’d end up feeling guilty and like I needed to be visibly staying later anyway. Now I just do the standard 9ish to 5ish. However, it sounds like you have a good boss and can keep on keeping on.

  10. Lily in NYC*

    OP, it sounds like you have a great boss who “gets it”. The fact that she works 9-5 means you should just keep doing what you’re doing. I work similar hours to due a painful commute – I used to work in a department where I’d hear stupid comments like “must be nice” when I walked out at 4:30. I started saying “must be nice; I’ve been here three hours already” back to those people when they arrived at 10:30 am and they got the hint. My current dept is so different – we all come in at whatever time works best for us and our boss doesn’t care because she knows we all get our work done.

    If your dad won’t let it do, maybe tell him that your boss recently made it clear that she values work-life balance and thinks that working long hours for no real reason is pointless.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Yeah, we have the “must be nice” culture here. I think it’s because most people don’t ever see you come in early, but they do see the people who stay late. As far as I know, my 4PM coworkers arrived five minutes before me. However, we all just need to keep our eyes on our own papers and get the job done. If OP’s boss doesn’t have a problem, then OP doesn’t have a problem.

      1. Sal*

        At my old job I was a civilian government employee, and government contractor at one point, while most of my colleagues were in the military. The military guys had to basically work whatever hours were required, and I had a flex schedule because the job called for it, so 80 hours in two weeks. Overtime could be approved in advance, but in practice, no one approved overtime. I would get the “must be nice” from military guys all the time, just for leaving “on time.” It was super frustrating.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Makes you want to start replying with a breezy “Yup, it sure is!” as you walk past them and out the door.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I would probably stop, look at them and say “You know I come in at 8am, right?”
            And while they’re reacting, go on home.

    2. BuffaLove*

      I work for state government – everyone does 37.5 hour workweeks and generally not a minute more, but our schedules vary a bit. I get “must be nice to come in at 8:00!” from the 7-3 crowd and “must be nice to leave at 4:00!” from the 9-5 crowd. Talk about stupid… you too could work these hours, if you so chose!

    3. Specialk9*

      What’s far more important is to stop having these conversations with your dad. That’s a really important part of adulthood — your parents shouldn’t know everything about your life (because boundaries are vital to adulthood) and they don’t actually get a say in big swathes of your life. Feel free to ask for advice when you want it AND when you think the question matches their knowledge strength. But you don’t owe them explanations about a work dynamic that’s not broke, and that you haven’t asked for help with. Draw. Boundaries.

    4. Gotham Bus Company*


      When others tells you that it “must be nice to be able to leave so early,” the best reply is that it “must be nice that you get to arrive so late.”

  11. Glowcat*

    I totally agree that “staying late to show dedication” is awful office culture, but I understand the OP because I do 8am-4pm and I do feel a little guilty leaving when most other people are still in. Fortunately, there are also people who do 7am-3pm, so there are at least a few already closed doors in the corridor when I leave… and fortunately in my country no one bothers to monitor your hours as long as work gets done; it’s fantastic, but I needed a little time to get used to it.

  12. Anon Today*

    OP, your dad is wrong.

    I actually think in a relatively normal workplace that staying late, etc., regularly for the sake of it looks bad. Especially, if you are a low to average producer compared to your peers. Regularly staying late under those circumstances makes it appear that you can’t manage your time well and that you are struggling with the work. For example, I have a co-worker who regularly works 70-80 hours a week, but their level of production is low. Initially, my boss was impressed that my co-worker was working that much, however, now that it’s clear that my co-worker’s production is low, my boss is wondering what my co-worker is doing with all of his/her time.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I wish more people would notice this! We have coworkers definitely lauded here for being so dedicated, but I’m like … what on earth are they doing that’s taking so long???

      1. Jadelyn*

        Our old payroll administrator would regularly work til 8pm or later on payroll weeks, and talk about how it was so hard to get everything done in time to hit the button and process by the deadline.

        We ended up letting her go for other reasons, got a new payroll administrator, and I don’t think she’s ever stayed later than 5:30 on a payroll week – and somehow the button is always pushed by the deadline, sometimes half a day ahead of schedule.

        Staying late doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing more. It often means you’re doing the same amount as everyone else, just less efficiently.

        1. Bea*

          Unless you have manual timeclocks and 300 people, I’m such a masochist that I’m imagining how bad that woman was. I processed payroll by hand for years, so I’m a wizard. She’s just doing payroll while it’s just a portion of my duties so I’m sure it’s a lot more but yeah she lacks focus.

      2. Anon Today*

        I am lucky that my department is revenue generating, and it’s usually pretty obvious within the first year to 18 months if someone isn’t producing the way they should be. If you aren’t producing then it doesn’t really matter how much face time you put in each day.

        But, I know in other departments they have longer term goals and so it’s not nearly as apparent when someone isn’t producing. However, I think you usually find out that someone is putting in a lot of face time when there is staff turnover. For example, I had a group of three co-workers who used to pull all nighters before a quarterly deadline. The manager of the three ended up leaving and what do you know the new manager that was hired, put everyone on a schedule and never worked based 5 p.m.

    2. Merci Dee*

      We have the same situation here. There are a couple of people in my department who typically stay late a couple of days a week to get things done. But if you go past their desks during the day, you can usually see all kinds of shopping or fashion sites up on their computers, or heads buried in cell phones.

      A couple of other people in my department have mentioned that they resent the fact that these people stay late and get paid overtime when it’s clear that they’re not doing their work for some part of the day. And I can totally understand that feeling. But a portion of my own job is very sequence-driven — if other people up the work flow from me haven’t finished their parts, then there’s absolutely nothing I can do until the backlog is released and work dumps into my lap all at once. I try to keep that in mind when I see random websites on their computers, and then see them scurrying around to get stuff done when I leave at 5:00.

      1. Gadget Hackwrench*

        This is exactly what it’s like at my job. People always think the IT Help Desk is lazy, but the truth is, there’s either nothing to do, or there’s everything to do so we’re drowned and some people are waiting too long. Problem is we can’t control the rate or timing at which things break.

    3. Bea*

      Christ almighty, 60 hours and the workload of 3 full time job descriptions was killing me. I can’t imagine a job everyone else kills in standard time but struggling like that, that coworker has to be miserable. My workaholic ass needs strong productivity or I slip into depression.

  13. LBK*

    I think this depends a lot on who your boss is. It sounds like your boss is happy with your work and your apparent level of dedication, so I think your’e in the clear. A good boss won’t care about arbitrary face time – I’ve actually had a few bosses that would tell me to get out of the office if they were leaving after 5:30 or so and saw I was still working because they specifically did not want me working more than I needed to (and these were exempt, salaried jobs so it wasn’t a question of overtime).

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I think you can also strategically stay a little late once or twice a month if you need to be “seen.”

        1. Merci Dee*

          We have a co-worker whose commute was 90+ minutes per day, but was getting a graduate degree at a facility here in town. Co-worker would stay and do some filing, etc., on the nights with classes, because there was absolutely no way to go home and then come back for school.

          1. The Original K.*

            I did that too, when I was getting my MBA while working. My commute wasn’t that long but my school was only a few blocks from work, so I always went straight to class from work, which meant staying late at work.

      1. BenAdminGeek*

        Yes, and it’s a really good skill to have! Know when to strategically be stretching time and updating people later in the evening, and it does pay dividends for the majority of the time.

        There was a Harvard Business Review article about the gendered side of this as well, I’ll have to try and dig that up.

    2. Glowcat*

      It happens in my workplace also. Once I had the colleague next door knock and say: “I wanted to make sure you know that since tomorrow is public holiday you are allowed to get out at midday. So, I’m leaving now and I suggest you do the same because… it’s sunny outside!” :)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I sometimes stay when it is a busy period, but also I have a concert ticket subscription (as it’s the only way to guarantee attending the concerts you want), then I stay a bit later at work before going on to the concert hall.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          I go to lots of gigs for my side hustle, and because I live about 75 minutes away from where I work by public transport it often makes more sense to just stay in the office and do a bit of extra work on those nights than it does to go home and back out again.

  14. hsw*

    It could be a cultural thing.
    My parents are from a culture where it was expected that people don’t leave work before their bosses. Leaving early was rude and showed you weren’t committed to your job.

    That hasn’t been applicable to my experiences in my jobs now and I’ve had decent managers who just expected you to be responsibly filling your hours and looked at output.

    1. MaureenS*

      I sometimes travel internationally for business, and in some countries / cultures you do NOT leave before your boss. It doesn’t matter if you have to sit staring into space for hours because your job is done.

      Know the culture of your workplace and your boss – that’s the best guide.

      As for your dad, stop mentioning your (or her) hours. “My boss is very happy with my performance & BIG SUBJECT CHANGE.” Or point out that if you did stay late, your boss would run into issues with hours of work or overtime legislation and you don’t want HER to get into trouble.

  15. AKchic*

    Ugh. I absolutely loathe unhelpful “advice” from generations past. Especially when they may not have worked or done a job search in 15+ years.
    My “favorite” was my grandmother, who kept giving me unsolicited job advice (while purposely tanking phone interviews because she didn’t want me working, she wanted me married and staying home with my kids) when her only job experience had been a noon duty at an elementary school in the 70’s so she could “keep an eye on” her own kids (my uncles).
    I avoid all advice from family.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Ha, my mom’s work advice is hilarious. She was a nursery school teacher for a few years and didn’t really have a boss (but she couldn’t get along with the owner of the building). She would get fired on her first day if she had to work in an office with a boss. She is mouthy with a temper, incredibly controlling and cannot admit when she’s wrong. I would pay good money to see her try to get along with people in a corporate environment. (she’s pretty cool most of the time; I don’t mean to make her sound like an ogre)

    2. General Ginger*

      During my first “adult job” job search, an older relative told me I should be offering to work for free for a month at every place I was applying at. You know, just to prove how great I was. Of course, I did no such thing, but I did wonder at the time if I should have!

  16. Lil Fidget*

    The only other thing I would say to OP here is that if it’s a relatively low paying job (I don’t know what your market is), I’d try extra hard to maintain good boundaries around work-life balance. If they wanted someone to be over-the-top dedicated and reachable around the clock, they need to pay that kind of salary. I recognize that sometimes you need to work even harder, perhaps at a loss, to get up the ladder in the beginning – but calculate your hourly rate before you boost up to 50-hour weeks … it shouldn’t be less than minimum wage. Your boss makes more than you for a reason. Signed – somebody who learned this the hard way.

  17. Crystal*

    Enjoy this great and reasonable workplace OP! Because yes, you could someday get a boss or workplace where Dad’s advice is correct because they’re a bad boss in this regard.

  18. Delphine*

    In my office (which I think deals with work hours in the most ideal way possible) regularly staying late would probably be seen as a red flag. We have one employee who was consistently putting in 10 hours days and it was because she was under-performing and her work process was a mess. She received extra training and now she puts in a typical 8 hours a day.

    That’s not to say people don’t stay late–some of my coworkers prefer to stay an hour late, others come in an hour early so they can avoid traffic, and there are times during our busy season when we are expected to work late if the work requires it. The rule is that there are set times we must be in the office, and beyond that we should work as much as needed to produce results, with the guideline being a 40-hour work week. If we put in more hours, we are encouraged to come in late or leave early to even things out.

    I’ve never seen my boss stay more than 30 minutes later than 5 PM, which really helps define the culture of the office.

    1. BetterBeAnonymous*

      You all are so lucky… I am harassed about it if I leave half an hour late every day. My co-worker is in an hour early and leaves at least an hour late every day and bothers everyone she manages about their dedication if they don’t do the same as her. You can tell my employees from hers easily, because mine are the happy ones…

    2. TurquoiseCow*

      “I’ve never seen my boss stay more than 30 minutes later than 5 PM, which really helps define the culture of the office.”

      That’s helpful. My last few bosses regularly stayed an hour or two late – mostly because they were scheduled for so many meetings during the day that those last hours were when they got work done. I kind of thought, “Oh, they’re higher up than me, they have so much more work to do,” but occasionally felt like I ought to be staying late as well.

      Now, I mostly think that sort of workload and meetings schedule isn’t a good way to manage your day, either, and I wonder if they’re in too many meetings they don’t need to be.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      I mentioned further up that I sometimes stay late at work if I have a social engagement that evening, and I have one senior team member who always checks on me to see why I’m staying late when I do that. (She comes in around the same time as me in the morning, so she knows roughly what hours I work.) I actually find that really good as it gives the impression that she wants to check I’m using my time well and/or not overworked, and it’s very much appreciated.

    4. Peter*

      Yes, exactly. As I posted below, in my audit firm people say about one woman who always stays late: “Does she never ask herself why she is the only one working that late?” Given she is given about the same workload as everyone else at her level, it’s assumed she is just bad at her job and takes longer to get the job done than anyone else. If she’s staying late just to impress it’s definitely not working!

  19. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    LW, it sounds like you’re already going above and beyond the face time required. You’re working 45 hour weeks for $30,000 – doing some back of the envelope math means that you’re making $13/hr, not counting the times you stay late. (Even assuming an hour for lunch that’s unpaid, that brings you up to…$14.50 or thereabouts.) Does your dad…realize that you’re already giving extra time? (I assume you are, as your boss works 9 to 5.)

    Other than that, it does depend on the office culture. But it sounds like for you, LW, your boss realizes you’re there TWO HOURS before her, and thinks you’re a great performer. Her opinion matters here, not your dad’s.

    Also for what it’s worth, I’d honestly leave at 3 if I could get everything done in time, if I were you. But I put a premium on my personal time.

  20. TurquoiseCow*

    Sigh. This reminds me of my old job. The stated hours were 8:30-4:45, but you got a lot of snark if you left at 4:45, even if you were hourly, non-exempt. I remember a VP walking through a part of a department in which 9/10ths of the people were hourly and complaining that no one was there before 8:30 or after 5:00.

    I’m not a morning person. Boss-man pulled me aside at one point and said that if I wanted to get ahead at the company, I ought to consider putting in some extra hours, and not being eager to leave on time (not that I was, but that’s beside the point…). I regularly stayed until 6 or later. But I never came in early, and was occasionally up to 15 minutes late. What do you think people noticed more? Finally I decided that I wasn’t going to stay late just for the optics. If I needed to work late to finish something, I’d stay late. If I was in the middle of something at 4:45, I’d finish it and leave at 5:00, but I was not going to make busywork for myself if there was nothing that needed to be done.

    The workplace was kind of toxic. The gossip, even amongst the managers, was insidious, and the optics were seen as more important than the actual work produced. My coworkers who came in early and stayed late surfed the internet at their desks and took numerous personal calls, but were applauded for staying late. I felt kind of vindicated when they went bankrupt and shut down, it was validation to me that they were focused on the wrong things overall.

    1. Gadget Hackwrench*

      The one and only time I worked salary, I got all kinds of BS for being 15 minutes late, but never got out less than an hour late… often far later. (Sorry I’m 15 minutes late, you had me here till 1:30 am, and then told me I was expected in at my regular time when I asked when I should return. I’m doing my best.)

  21. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I’ve had coworkers who stayed late, and/or forced their entire teams to stay late, to “show dedication”. They’d put in 12-14 hours per day and get nothing done. Or work on their side job in the evenings after everybody else would leave. (and occasionally get caught by peers, which is how I know it.) Everyone saw through their BS. I admit some of these people were getting raises and promotions, and receiving employee of the month awards with the boss’s comment that “they work crazy hours”. But that’s when you know that your workplace is toxic and you need to start working on getting out. It’s like a litmus test for a workplace.

  22. ArtK*

    I’ve told this one before, but I’ll summarize this time. A professor in an engineering management program told us this story just last year: He got his job as the program manager on a major defense contract because the previous PM asked for and took vacation; vacation that had been booked and was a milestone anniversary with the PM’s wife. After the PM got back, the boss demoted him. All I got from the story was, what a terrible coward that boss was. If there was some reason why the PM couldn’t take the vacation (there was a short-notice program review), then the boss should have said that, and offered to make the PM whole on any financial loss. The professor was showing it as an example of why you have to be “dedicated” to get ahead.

    Just to emphasize the story, the next one was in praise of someone who didn’t take any vacation in the 7 years of the project. Personally, I’d be worried about that employee, not praising them.

    1. BadWolf*

      Even if you don’t care about the employee’s well being — I’ve now read plenty of stories on this site that show employees who are committing fraud are often not exposed until they’re on vacation — usually for more than a couple days.

      1. LeisureSuitLarry*

        The fraud/vacation connection is taught and has been taught for a very long time in the auditing class of accounting programs. It’s a giant red flag when people don’t take vacations, and not just for quality of work.

  23. Cordoba*

    I like to do the opposite.

    I start late and leave early to show my boss that I’m so good at my job that I can get everything done to a high standard in 5-6 hours a day.

    1. Abe Froman*

      This reminds me of the old story about Ross Perot at IBM. There was one year he did so well in sales he actually made more than the CEO. The CEO, being an idiot, did the exact wrong thing. Instead of touting that story up and down, telling his employees, “Work hard and you can make more than me!”, he capped commissions at $150k a year. The next year, Perot maxed out in February and made a point of coming in to work for an hour or two to serve his existing clients then going to play tennis and golf. IBM lost millions in sales, and Perot ended up leaving to become a billionaire elsewhere.

      1. Cordoba*

        That’s a good one, Perot is an interesting guy to read about.

        I remember reading that Andrew Carnegie’s response to other industrialists who were talking about how they all work 10+ hours every day of the week to attend to their empires was “You must be very lazy men if it takes you 10 hours to do a day’s work”.

    2. anon for this*

      Er. Same. I usually end up coming in around 9:30 and leaving around 3:30 or 4… but I also just got the highest rating available on my performance review. I just don’t have 8 hours worth of work to do most of the time! The work I do have, I do very well, and I’ve even come up with additional projects to fill the hours. It’s just not 40 hours/week worth.

    3. Bea*

      That’s the crap side of being in an advisory role and hourly because we follow exempt classifications strictly. I’m done in a few hours but am strolling around for the rest of the day just in case something pops up that I’m helpful with.

      Granted I have high reviews and they know my actual workload is not 40hrs. I’m getting paid well and have my own office, I can handle it. I have had 3 jobs at once, my bosses know I can hang if they aren’t crazy jerks.

  24. Heat's Kitchen*

    Literally just had this conversation with a coworker today.

    First, I do think it depends on your organization and its culture. If your boss and colleagues don’t seem concerned about your working hours, I wouldn’t be either.

    Second, in my opinion (and, thankfully, my current company’s), in an ideal world of most professional, exempt careers, it shouldn’t matter what hours you are in your desk chair as long as your work gets done. However, if there are concerns about your performance, seeing you leave before everyone else can exacerbate the perception of an issue.

    For example, we have an employee everyone knows is on a PIP. Lately, he’s had days where he comes in around 9 and leaves by 3:30. There are coworkers on his team that are in at 6:30 and leave around 3:30 as well. They’re rather frustrated as they feel he isn’t pulling his weight and not seeing him in the office as often as others makes that seem even worse. If they considered him a valuable member of the team, it’s possible they wouldn’t have worried as much about the length of time in the office. As an aside, that team does have someone who regularly signs off early, but logs on after her kids go to bed. She regularly asks for feedback from her team and hasn’t gotten any concerns about her working at home in the evenings

  25. Aaaaaaanon.*

    The other nuanced thing to keep in mind here is that even when your workplace is cool with staggered start times, it’s still easier to build up capital when your work schedule has you leaving later than your manager most days, if at all possible. Or, if you and your manager are both in earlier than the rest of your team, that can give you some extra opportunities to build rapport. Flex schedules aren’t created equal in how they help you give the impression of being a good worker.

    I know the OP’s trying to beat traffic…but it’s good to think about being strategic unless you really need that flexibility to make the rest of your life work.

    1. BenAdminGeek*

      I’ve seen it both ways, though. I had a manager who came in right at 8:30 and wanted to see everyone already there and working. But she didn’t mind if you left earlier than her. Still not sure why, but it does seem like a “know your boss” type thing.

    2. Oilpress*

      Yes, I do find people who work similar hours to be more “helpful” than those who keep vastly different hours. Availability is a huge plus in some projects. Furthermore, alternate hours can prevent some impromptu meeting opportunities that are advantageous to career building.

  26. beanie beans*

    I have a coworker who continuously puts in extra hours and I get the impression he feels like he’s showing dedication and hard work. But damn is he slow at getting things done.

    I can get the same amount of work done in less time and would feel pretty resentful if he viewed my reasonable hours as questioning my hard work and dedication.

    Hours at your desk does not determine your dedication or actual performance at your job.

  27. Uncanny Valley*

    Shared this experience before. But just today I was showing someone what happened to one of my co-worker buddies a few years. back at OLDJOB. He was nice enough to send me a copy of his reprimand for posterity and I still have it.

    Apparently, he was too dedicated. What did he do? He stayed five minutes after “quitting time” to finish a task and this was deemed unauthorized overtime. He was also accused of abusing lunch breaks. Since we worked in IT it was not always possible to drop a task and take lunch at a given time. Even the HR Director who signed off on the reprimand knew it was bogus. But since there was a new sheriff in town this was deemed a violation and suspended him for a week for causing a “hardship on the department and the company.” That boss flamed out very quickly, but stayed long enough to run me out of the office and my buddy is still there. So it worked out well.

    Thankfully I work for a management team that is results oriented. Our managers don’t worry about our hours, we are treated like grown people. They look at our production and thankfully we are still getting great results. To top it all off, Boss gave me a 5% raise today.

    1. Uncanny Valley*

      addendum: I realize that the DAD make this recommendation. Glad OP has an awesome leader.

    2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      If I was treated like that, I admit the rest of my work life there would have been an absolute work-to-rule. I can’t think of a faster way to piss off and burn out your staff.

  28. chocoholic*

    My current boss is new to the organization as of February, and she has talked about working until 9 or 10:00 at night. No way am I staying that late just to “leave after” her! :)

    I have gotten a lot of comments too about “must be nice” because I work part-time. I leave by 1:30 most days and don’t work Fridays. Guess what, I also get 50% of my FT salary. This hasn’t happened so much at this job, but I have been the only PT person at other companies and I got the “must be nice” as I don’t “have” to work FT and must be nice to leave early in the day. Well, yeah, I don’t “have” to work FT when you consider how much of my salary would be spent on child care. Six of one, right? It is what works for us.

  29. Naptime Enthusiast*

    My dad gave me this same advice when my brother and I first started. I work in a healthy workplace where my mentors would tell me “go home!” if I was still around at 5PM (I also start early). We work our hours, stay late when we have to, but otherwise have healthy boundaries between work and home. We worked staggered schedules because people have kids to drop at daycare, pets to let out at night, or just because some of us are morning people vs night people. The work gets done and if it isn’t, THAT is the issue, not our start or leaving times.

    My brother did NOT work in a healthy work environment. He was constantly overworked and tasked with after hours events without notice, took on way too many responsibilities for his paygrade without proper training, and when his company took on a new account in a higher COL area, they wanted him to take it but wouldn’t increase his pay because he “could just live at home and save on rent”. Luckily he has found a much better work environment now.

    After seeing how my brother was treated, our dad changed his tune and said “F*ck em, do your job and live your life.”

  30. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Here’s a thing to realize. Your dad isn’t wrong that staying late shows dedication because that is not a matter of right or wrong. That’s his opinion, based on his experience.
    Your experience is teaching you differently. You are successful while working a different shift with your boss. So for here and now, keep doing what you are doing.
    If your situation changes, be ready to adapt.
    Hmmm, maybe that’s your take away from your dad – not be so rigid about how to succeed. To get to A you must do 1, 2 and 3. Nope. You must do your best within the office and its hierarchy and culture.
    Remember this when you start telling your kids, “in my day…” :)

    1. LBK*

      If that’s the take away, I still think that kinda means her dad is wrong, because he’s providing that advice as a blanket rule. It’s not a matter of opinion – it’s a fact that not every office is going to care about working late.

  31. Bookworm*

    I think it can depend on the field, the job and your particular boss. I’ve had bosses and worked in fields where overtime was expected BUT it was also scheduled in advance, for the most part because of the nature of our work cycle. I’ve worked at a couple of law firms where one required that the OT be approved in advance and another where OT could pop up on any given day with volunteers given the opportunity but not expected to drop everything just because extra work came through the door.

    I had one job where I was new and I had to stay in order to do the work, plus working from home. The head boss complimented me, said it showed my dedication. In retrospect it was actually a nature of how badly trained I had been and I quit like 2 weeks later. So YMMV and you may have to feel your way around/get input from others on this. Good luck!

  32. lemonsforbreakfast*

    Once I had children, I stopped caring about the “being at my desk until 5” thing. If I get to work at 8:30, I’m leaving at 4:30, period, unless there is a really pressing deadline. I work weekends or evenings if absolutely necessary but it’s not often. Workplace culture needs to change so that families can feel like they have work/life balance and that is never going to happen if people are policing how long someone is in the office. I got a comment a few weeks ago from a co-worker commenting on some employees “leaving early.” But those employees arrived early, too — why shouldn’t they leave if their work for the day is complete? It’s ridiculous and I won’t be a part of that culture. If I do my work, and exceed the expectations set for me, then I’m clearly managing my time appropriately.

  33. Bea*

    I used to stay incredibly late while putting in 60hr weeks doing what was supposedly a 40hr job. I still fell behind due to doing 2 extra jobs piled on me. Not once was it noticed since the slacker bosses actually left before anyone else in the office. I wasn’t clocking anything because of being exempt. Utter hell. My reports knew though and were always out immediately and rightfully so, they’re hourly and ten minutes of OT would send the bosses into a rage where I then had to coach on punching in and out very rigidly.

    This is a know your job and office issue. Your boss seems like this works and isn’t laying out hints, you’re just fine.

    I leave early now because my boss told me upfront that I’m free to flex my schedule and just set core hours. He scoots in later but stays late, I like earlier starts during spring and summer. I’ll flex to later time when the sunrises later.

  34. EmKay*

    Yeah, this is crap. Not that I haven’t fallen into the trap of thinking like this, though. When I worked for the bank I was once told not to schedule meetings past 2:30pm for a certain manager, as that was the time he left the office. I was internally appalled, until I found out he came into the office at 5h30 every morning.

    If it were completely up to me, I’d be the opposite. Roll in around noon and go home around 9pm. Alas, it’s not meant to be.

  35. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

    I think in most industries putting in face-time is unnecessary, but in DC if you work in politics or lobbying it is still a very big thing. Like others have said, know your office culture and you’ll be fine.

  36. RV*

    Funnily enough, my parents have always given me the opposite advice. They find it hard to understand that me and my colleagues are often expected to stay for 1-2 hours after our “official” finishing time (we are all excempt). I’ve heard the same from a lot of my colleagues and I think it may be due to the fact that we are working in a country (Ireland) where many of us work for American companies that follow a more “American” work style that wouldn’t have been common here even 15-20 years ago

  37. Bazinga*

    If one of my staff were staying late and they didn’t need to, or there wasn’t an increased workload/deadline, I would be more worried about their ability to do their job in a reasonable amount of time than impressed with their gumption.

  38. Dunnewriting*

    My boss told me that “The first 40 hours are for your job and the next 40 are for your CAREER.” Since I have a day job to pay the bills and go home to write novels at night, he’s more correct than he knows.

    (For the record, he has never expected me to stay late and has actually been very flexible about my time, that’s just a thing he and the older group at my company believe)

  39. Brett*

    When someone consistently stays late, I am not impressed. I am worried.
    Either they are overestimating their own bandwidth, I am overloading them, or something else is going wrong with their work habits.
    Either way, we are estimating too few hours for the amount of work they can do and I need them to stop working late so we can fix the root issue.

  40. Tea*

    Yep, so old school. This is in line with my dad telling me not to take sick days when I get sick because I’ll get fired for missing work. I work in an office with a generous sick and vacation policy, and we even have a chart outlining symptoms of when you should stay home, and regular email reminders to be considerate and not show up sick.

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      My dad is also very anti-taking sick days; I remember when we were kids him telling us that if we were well enough to get out of bed, we were well enough to go to school. I think it stems from his father who worked in the type of manual roles where not turning up to work meant that the family didn’t eat that day. It took me a long time to unlearn that and to realise that it’s OK to work from home if I feel like death warmed up but could still physically get to the office.

  41. TaxAnon*

    At my old job, the main issue one manager had with me was that I was not butt-in-chair 12+ hours a day. She arrived at the office at 7pm and often didn’t leave until 8pm or later, and apparently expected her subordinates to be in the office when she was. The company had a strong telecommute culture, and all the other teams I worked with had no issue where or when I worked as long as the work was done timely. I have a kid and told this manager up front that I needed to leave at 5 most days unless there was something that needed my immediate attention in the office. I was happy to pick up my kid and work from home until 10, 11, 12pm if that’s what was needed, and often did. She was aware of this, and we’d often have late-night email exchanges, and my work was ALWAYS on time.

    I never knew there was an issue until my annual review, when she slammed me for “leaving at 5pm every day regardless of workload”. I was completely broadsided – I’d been working with her for a year and she had never told me that my schedule was an issue. Instead she made me sound like a lazy, undedicated POS who didn’t give a damn.

    The real kicker is that I only worked 5-10 hours a week on her projects for most of that year. The other teams I worked with had nothing but good comments about me, and my schedule was not even remotely an issue for anyone else.

  42. Totally Minnie*

    Maybe it’s because we’re a relatively small office (under 15 people), but we all know which people come in early and which people stay late, and it’s just what it is. Everyone knows that Monica’s a morning person so she comes in early, but Joey and Phoebe think better later in the day, so they come in late. And our upper management is pretty clear that even exempt employees should be sticking fairly close to a 40 hour work week. We’re not expected to go over that more than a couple of times a month, if that.

  43. BruceFan*

    “I work five days a week girl
    Loading crates down on the dock
    I take my hard earned money
    And meet my girl down on the block
    And Monday when the foreman calls time
    I’ve already got Friday on my mind”

    Now this is going through my head.

  44. AnonaMama*

    Uuggh. I had a manager – not my manager, but another manager, come to me once and tell me that it looked bad that I left on time every day, that it made others that stayed later feel bad. She seemed to not be considering the fact 1) my manager knew my hours and was fine with them and 2) she and the person who reported to would spend literally HOURS in her office chatting about personal stuff, so then they needed to stay late to get things done. I spent my time actually working, so was able to finish up the things I needed to each day and get out on time. I stayed when needed, but would not just sit in my office to make others feel better. I hate this mentality. And really hope more people are ignoring these old school standards.

  45. Drama Llama*

    I know the workload I give to my assistant. If she stays behind late at work with a normal workload, I would worry about her speed and performance.

  46. Anonymous Reading Comprehension*

    I’m not arguing with Alison’s advice, but I am confused about how bad the traffic could possibly be if leaving at 6 PM gets the LW home at 6:30.

    1. Popcorn Lover*

      It’s possible that rush hour in this city is something like 4:30 to 5:30. I used to live in a place like that. 5 miles from work. If I left at 4 or at 6, my commute was 20 minutes. Anytime in between, took me 45 minutes (more if there was an accident at the no-merge-area off ramp, as there often was).

    2. doreen*

      I’m guessing it’s one of those commutes where if you leave by 4 or after 6 it’s 30 minutes, but if you leave between 4-6 , it takes an hour. I assume that why the OP stays until 6 when she does stay, rather than leaving at 5 or 5:30.

    3. Bea*

      I’ve only ever had less than a 30 minute commute no matter the time once for seven months.

      It depends. 30 minutes to get 5 miles sucks. 30 minutes to get 20 miles, is just a breezy drive to me.

  47. Nicole*

    This sounds about as useful as the “go in and ask for a job” advice the older folks are still swirling around.

  48. Beth Jacobs*

    Sometimes I think that older family members just don’t understand time and math – like at all. I worked as a night receptionist during college, which was a pretty chill gig. My grandma invited me for lunch one day, but I declined: “Sorry, my shift ends at 7am so I’ll be asleep.” Grandma: “But surely you’ll get up by 1 pm, you’re just being lazy”. It wasn’t even six hours past the end of the shift! Just because you get up at 7 am doesn’t mean I can do that, since I’ll only go to bed at 8 am :D

    And similarly, your dad has a “feeling” leaving at 4 is “lazy”, but if you’re getting up before 6am the next day, it really isn’t! It’s a regular nine hour workday!

  49. nep*

    I had a boss that made the point that he was less impressed seeing people stay for many extra hours at the end of the day — for him it demonstrated a lack of balance and in some ways a failure to manage time well. He didn’t penalise people for it; of course the reasons vary and staying extra time doesn’t always show these traits. But he seemed to want to point out that ‘Hey, this doesn’t automatically gain you points.’

    1. Ellery*

      Your boss isn’t alone in that! My grandfather’s favorite work-related aphorism was “Staying late doesn’t show me you’re dedicated — it shows me you’re a poor manager of time.” Obviously this stuff varies with different management styles, but having that in the back of my mind has definitely guided the way I work.

      1. SatsumaWolf*

        My grand-manager used to make a point of talking to people who were staying late….and telling them he hoped they were going home soon. His take was that if someone is working too late it could be a sign, not that they are bad at time management, but that they have too much to do that can reasonably fit into the work day so their workload might need reassessing. I am pleased to report no-one abused that setiment by making their workload look bigger than it was – we all appreciated his dedication to our work-life balance.

  50. nep*

    (For me, feeling as if I should be seen staying on late means my performance is deficient in some way and I need to address that.)

  51. Peter the Bubblehead*

    The old job I used to work (in the heavy equipment manufacturing field) pretty much expected everyone to work overtime, and I had several co-workers comment that if they didn’t get their overtime (generally 10 hours at time and a half) every week they could not meet their bills. I always thought, if being able to live comfortably required you to work overtime (and in a cyclical field that often saw whole shifts being furloughed for months at a tie when orders were slow), you needed to find a job that paid better and that you could live on working only 40 hours per week.
    My current job working for a DOD contractor, we only work 40 hours per week, overtime is rarely authorized and usually for the workers required to travel as part of the job, and the hours are flexible as long as you get your 40 in by the COB on Friday. The office is open 5:30am to 5:30pm and you can work up to 10 hours in a single work day. Most times I work 6:30 to 2:30 – a few co-workers are there before me, the majority within an hour or two after me. If I work more than 8 in one day (either because something needs to be finished that day or because I’m going somewhere after work and don’t want to drive the hour to get home first), I work that much less than 8 another day that week. The schedule flexibility is one of the only really good perks of the job. If it were ever taken away (as some rumors going around have hinted when the next contract is awarded this year), I believe at least a third or more of the employees would quit and find work elsewhere.

    1. TheVet*

      “I always thought, if being able to live comfortably required you to work overtime (and in a cyclical field that often saw whole shifts being furloughed for months at a tie when orders were slow), you needed to find a job that paid better and that you could live on working only 40 hours per week.”

      I never realized it was that easy.

      1. Peter the Bubblehead*

        It was for me. As soon as I saw the direction production was going, I started my job search (mid-March). I was contacted by a recruiter within just a couple of weeks of updating my resume on-line (early-April). I was hired into a better paying job within three more weeks (late-April). I gave my two weeks notice. My last night was a Friday night (mid-May). Saturday they laid-off the entire shift I had been assigned to.
        It helps if you have the proper qualifications employers are looking for, but if you put effort into it, you will find getting a better job is often not as hard as most will try and tell you it is.

  52. Peter*

    In my audit firm people gossip negatively about one woman who always stays late: “Does she never ask herself why she is the only one working that late?” Given she is given about the same workload as everyone else at her level, it’s assumed she is just bad at her job and takes longer to get the job done than anyone else. If she’s staying late just to impress it’s definitely not working!

  53. ErinW*

    About ten years ago I worked with a guy who stayed late basically every night. He finally confided in me that it was because he couldn’t afford internet at home. He was finishing his work and then surfing the web for an hour or two before going home.

    1. Peter the Bubblehead*

      Was he charging the company for his time still in the office, or was he technically ‘off the clock’?

  54. LiveAndLetDie*

    OP, I had a boss that cared about this kind of thing and was a very “you give me a schedule and stick to it and I’ll watch you like a freaking hawk about it” person (and even if you stuck to your schedule, if it didn’t align with hers, she saw you as a slacker, because you left before her), and it wound up being that after she moved on, morale shot through the roof because new management’s philosophy was “as long as you get the work done and meet your deadlines, time management is up to you.”

    Your dad’s giving you bad advice. Do your work and if you’re performing well, that’s what matters. To a good manager, anyway. :)

  55. WorkingMomsUnite*

    The OP is complaining about a 30-minute commute at 6pm? I have a 1 hour and 45-minute commute EACH WAY. Just saying.

    1. Star Nursery*

      Hey! If a super long commute, works for you that’s fine but let’s not pick on the LW for valuing a short commute. A lot of people would not want a long commute.

  56. Indie*

    I hate this outdated attitude with the fire of a thousand suns. It’s the absolute hallmark of a poor manager, who doesn’t understand Parkinson’s law that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. If you imply to your people that they should stay later; then all you’re doing is setting later deadlines for the day’s work. If you say ‘lets get X project finished before we go’ people will crack on efficiently. So they can go home!

    I’m not talking about jobs where you need to staff something for set hours, like a hot line for example, I’m talking about pointless hanging around (worse than supermarket queues) because it’s the only thing the boss is awake enough to notice about each person’s performance.

    1. Kitty*

      Exactly! I get especially frustrated with it since some days are much much lighter on tasks than others at our work, and yet I still have to sit at my desk until 5pm because reasons.

  57. Kitty*

    Oh man, I’m so tired of my mum giving me this type of outdated career “advice”. Especially since she hasn’t been in the workforce for years and never worked in my industry. That’s not how it works, mum!

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