my boss lectured me about arriving on time – when I’m working a ton of hours

A reader writes:

I need help to decide if what has happened at work is going to be my hill to die on (or resign on).

I started on at a new company about eight months ago. I originally was excited, as it was a bump in title and responsibilities and would put me more on the path to future career goals. My position has turned out to be different than what I was told it would be, which I’m not happy about, but I’ve talked to my boss and he’s agreed that this is short-term and will change.

Recently we’ve had a ton of projects hit at the same time, and it turns out the short-term expertise I’ve gained is crucial to all of them, so I’ve been working 50-60 hour weeks for over two months now with no end in sight. Again, I’m not very happy but my start time was flexible enough that I was able to come in later (around 9:30) and leave later (7-9 pm).

Today we got an email today from my boss, which infuriated me to the point that I left work early in order to avoid going to his office and shouting at him. It stated that although our group was typically casual about work schedules, it was important to remember our corporate hours are from 8 am to 5 pm. He said that we are professionals who don’t need to clock in and out, but also that we are a team that “practices and performs together” and “when one of us is absent, it affects the team.” The email then asked us to arrive on time and to “be considerate to the rest of our team in planning your daily commute.” I’m at a loss for what to say or how to react.

On one hand, I can see arriving earlier, as those are supposed to be our hours. On the other hand, if I’m working until 9 at night, then going home to eat and sleep before coming in all over again – what difference does an hour make in the morning? All this email has made me consider is leaving at 5 pm as it’s corporate policy and who am I to argue with that? (I realize this is childish.)

Ooooh, this would infuriate me too.

When you’re working 50 to 60 hours a week, it’s really tone deaf for your employer to nickel and dime you about what time you’re getting in, as long as it’s not affecting your work or your coworkers.

That’s especially true if you’ve been allowed flexibility with your hours in the past, which you have been. That’s not to say that workplace needs and policies can’t change. But if they do, your boss should acknowledge that this is different from what’s been allowed in the past and explain the reasons for it … not just lecture your team for being “inconsiderate.”

And then throw in the fact that you’ve been working these long hours at a job that’s different from the one you were told you were taking, and that you’ve been quite gracious about helping out despite that! Given all of this, I’m not surprised you were on the verge of losing it.

For what it’s worth, your boss’s email reads a bit like either (a) someone above him commented on your team not being in at 8 a.m. and now he’s feeling pressure to do something about it, or (b) someone on your team is abusing the flexibility and your boss is a wimpy manager who resorts to all-team emails instead of speaking directly to the person who’s causing the problem.

Of course, it’s also possible that you could be the person he had in mind! It’s impossible to know, because he hasn’t bothered to have an actual conversation about this.

All that said, it is worth considering whether and how your arrival time might be affecting your work and your coworkers. If people need you for questions or meetings at 8 a.m. and you’re not there until 9:30, or if clients are calling with urgent issues, that’s genuinely a problem. So your boss’s concern could be legitimate, even though he’s flubbed the way he’s handled it. (Though, frankly, even if your arrival time isn’t ideal for others, it still might make sense to give you some leeway considering the hours you’re working — but you and your manager should have a conversation to figure that out first.)

So far, though, all of this is speculation because your boss hasn’t had an actual conversation with you. Since he hasn’t done that, you should initiate that conversation yourself.

Sit down with him and say something like this: “I wanted to check with you about the email you sent about our hours. I thought we had some flexibility on start time and so I’ve been coming in a little later because many nights I’ve had to stay at the office until 9 p.m. I think you know I’ve been working 50 to 60 hours a week because of XYZ. While I’m working those hours, I’d like to continue having that flexibility around when I come in. If that’s not possible, I probably need to scale back how much I’m working, so I wanted to check with you.”

Then see what he says. He might tell you that his email wasn’t even directed toward you and you can keep doing what you’ve been doing. (Sending group emails that only apply to a few people is a bad way to manage, but some managers do that.) Or he might say that he didn’t realize the hours you’ve been putting in (or hadn’t been thinking about that when he wrote the email) and that he’s willing to give you more flexibility while that’s happening.

Or, yes, he might say that he does need you to come in earlier. If that happens, you’ll have to decide how you want to respond. One option is to say, “I’ve been very generous with the company with my hours, staying late and working long weeks even though the job I was brought on for was something else. I’m hoping there’s room for flexibility in exchange, but if there’s not, I will stick with eight to five like you asked. That’s going to have repercussions for my projects, though, so we’ll need to figure out how to handle them.” You’ll have to decide how you think your boss will react to this. If he’s the kind of person who bristles at the slightest pushback, don’t take this route unless you’re willing to leave your job over it. But in other cases, this could be reasonable.

Even aside from the question of hours, though, it sounds like you might need to think about whether you want to stay at this company long term. They sold you on one job but have you doing a different one — and it sounds like they’re loading you up with a lot more work than you agreed to. Your boss has told you that’s short term, but you’ve also noted that there’s no real end in sight. It might be time to sit down with him and ask for a real timeline for moving you back to the work you signed on for. Explain that you’ve been happy to help out while they were in a pinch, but it’s important to you to do the job you accepted. If he’s vague and noncommittal about when that will happen, assume there’s a good chance that’s because there isn’t a real plan to resolve this. And if that’s the case, you’ll have to decide if it makes sense to stay — knowing this may be the situation for the foreseeable future — or move on.

That’s a bigger issue than your boss’s email about hours, so make sure you’re tackling it head-on with him.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

{ 301 comments… read them below }

  1. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I worked at a place like that – I had to track when people arrived and get them to sign in if they were late. I got stares, glares and “You know I worked late last night, right?” but I was doing was the owner wanted.

    It was demoralizing, infantalizing and only encouraged the ridiculous turnover.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      So frustrating!

      When I was at ToxicJob, I randomly got pulled into a meeting with my manager and HR about my punctuality. They pulled out a SPREADHSEET of all the times I was late over the past two months… the absolute *latest* I ever clocked in? Seven minutes. SEVEN MINUTES late.

      ….I had 10-20 hours of overtime every single week at that job.

      But you know, that one time I clocked in at 7:02am after clocking in at 7:07am earlier that month… that was the FINAL STRAW.

      1. sacados*

        My first job out of college was at a small magazine and the EIC (my boss) was one of those incredibly up-and-down mood swing types. He was also a big morning person and so was always first in the office, usually an hour earlier than anyone else.
        I wasn’t working crazy overtime, but I did typically stay about 30 mins late every day. Due to my commute by train, I would occasionally get to work a little bit (between 5-10 mins) late.
        On those days I rush into the office — “so sorry I’m late, the train was delayed, sorry!”
        If boss is in a good mood it’s all smiles, “No worries, it’s ten minutes, you’re fine, it’s not a problem!”
        If it’s a day when he’s in a bad mood, I would get an irate lecture, “I RELY on you to be on time, this is unacceptable, I got in this morning and was looking for the X file and it wasn’t in the folder, I need you to be here on time to give me the document!” etc etc

        The reaction was completely and utterly dependent on his mood that day. It annoyed the heck out of me.

      2. Lucy Preston*

        This is another one of those things that I’ve been working to retrain myself on. (Thanks to all of the helpful hints that I get here daily). In my first job I had to track time. It was a very small group of less than 5 people in a professional setting. 5-10 minutes late was okay occasionally, but I was always given the impression that the time had to be docked regardless. The hours were rigid. Overtime was only an occasional, rare thing. There was a time when some employees (who were treated as exempt but paid hourly) would work late the night before and then come in late the next morning. The boss would throw a fit and would threaten to dock the time missed that morning. I often got the “that’s not how this works” speech.

        Now I still have to track time. The company still insists on a rigid hour policy which I have to follow. However I’m not so quick to be a stickler about it unless it becomes a pattern. On the other hand, it the boss calls at the start of the day and wants to know where Joaquin is, that might become an issue.

      3. DecorativeCacti*

        I just went through something similar. I was given a written warning because I was between 1-7 minutes late once a week. Every time I was late, I would stay that many minutes late to make up the time and was told that’s not acceptable because I’m “stealing from the company”. If me being one minute late and staying one minute late is stealing from the company then the company is stealing from me if I clock on one minute early and leave at the scheduled time. Every single day I work my exact hours and not one minute more now.

      4. Dagny*

        I had a manager who did something similar to me. I routinely worked many hours of unpaid overtime and got screamed at for being three minutes late if there was a traffic jam.

      5. Bend & Snap*

        I nearly quit when I was working 60 hour weeks (FOR YEARS) and I walked in one day–start time was 9–and my boss looked at me and said, “It’s 9:06. You have to call if you’re going to be late.”

        What the fudge lady.

    2. JJ*

      I worked at a job where the culture was to arrive at 9am and stay an hour after official business hours ended. Most people adhered to this, giving the company a free five hours from every employee every week. There was no recognition or acknowledgement of this. Then they sent out an All Company Email that we needed to stay later and work harder, and also that we all needed to be in the office during business hours for optics reasons, even though clients rarely came in. My boss, one of the easiest going guys I know, then started to leave strictly at the end of business hours, and the free five hours was over (as everyone else followed suit). All the work continued to get done (as it had been the whole time) and management was quietly taught a lesson. It was pretty tight.

      1. Anonomoose*

        I’d love everyone to start treating how many hours a week they work as non negotiable, unless there’s specific time off in lieu arrangements…I mean, we’re basically all giving a bunch of money to some rich people at the top of the company hierarchy for free, otherwise.

        And sure, projects sometimes need longer hours, but they should be giving hours/days off after this.

        1. Shannon*

          Yep. At Old Toxic Job, this was a Major Thing. As a manager, I was told I had to track every time someone asked to leave early or come in late, or went home sick, or whatever. I asked “Am I also supposed to keep track of how they all come in early, stay late, and work through lunch regularly?”

          Dumbfounded silence. I quit, and I have an awesome job now.

    3. Phoebe*

      I hope you pushed back hard at the owner, giving reasons this was not a good way of managing people.

  2. voyager1*

    Page Not Found at the link.

    Honestly though LW just email your boss asking if this time issue applies to you. If your “shift” is 9:30a-7p then I really don’t see what the problem is. There is a good chance this email was just a blast to everyone since it is easier to do that then talk to the offending employees. Managers always rationalize this as, “well it is good to inform everyone vs talk to just the offending parties.”

    1. Jerk Store*

      This is why all-group emails for stuff like this is a bad idea. It either confuses or pisses off the people who already following the rule or are understood to have an exception like here, and the people who are coming late for no good reason some to oftentimes just ignore the email and assume it’s not about them.

      1. Kendra*

        I learned my lesson on this one the hard way; I sent out an email once that I thought was clarifying a policy for the whole team, since several people had complained about a particular coworker doing something differently than they’d have done it. I’d already spoken to him privately, but I wanted to make sure the complainers (and anyone they’d grumbled to) all knew that they were only about half right, and what he’d been doing was partially correct.

        One of the other staff (who I’d had no idea was even involved in any of it) took it as a direct attack on her, flipped her lid, and came storming into my office breathing fire. Took me a good half hour to calm her down, and I’ve been much more cautious about sending out group messages ever since.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Just because it’s easier doesn’t make it right. Unless the majority of employees are taking advantage of a situation, or the offender is unknown, a group email to address a situation is usually the wrong choice.

      And I wouldn’t send an email response to question it. This is the time for a face to face conversation.

      1. voyager1*

        Maybe the first time, but an email is a good record in case the employee keeps coming in late.

    3. Oxford Comma*

      I used to be this person. It was so much more comfortable to blast out an email to everyone rather than have the one on one discussion.

      No more. The offending parties never get the hint. The people who are good employees get their hackles up.

      1. it's-a-me*

        The one(s) doing the wrong thing don’t care or know it’s aimed at them, and the ones doing the right thing get worried thinking it IS aimed at them.
        We’re experiencing this at my work, where one of the supervisors keeps sending out ‘reminders’ to the whole team which are clearly aimed at someone, but we don’t know who.

  3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    This kind of stuff is what leads to high turnover, you wouldn’t be the only one to bounce with this kind of nonsensical backtracking.

    When you’re overworked, being nitpicked is very much a good reason to throw in the towel. You can only accept so much while giving so much to the position that you’re not even happy with to begin with.

    Walk out without a job lined up? No. But yeah, start throwing out your line and find another job, yes. I sure would.

    1. A Person*

      Yep, I’ve had (and left) more than one job like this, where my work output was made to feel less important than what time I arrived (but I was still expected to work nights and weekends to get all the work done).

      Once I figured out how to have those conversations with management (either I can work core business hours, OR I can stay late and all the work gets done), it really helped me determine what the organization’s priorities were and when it was time to move on.

    2. Kix*

      Yes, in my last job, I routinely worked seven days a week for no overtime just to keep up with my workload. I teleworked two days in a row because it was easier for me to work undisturbed to meet a crucial deadline.
      When I was back in the office, my manager decidedI had to use one day of annual leave because it looked bad if I had two telework days in a row. Hmph. I decided it was time to look elsewhere.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yes on the turnover. When I took over a new team about five years ago, I asked for the exit interviews for the past year and also met with each member of the staff to get to know them and see how things were going. The head of HR at that time was huge on nickel and diming people on time – like deducting anything over 15 (cumulative) minutes of late arrival/overrun lunch hour time in a pay period from PTO banks – and it was leading to people feeling unappreciated when they worked long hours or were flexible with their time (which led to clock watching, work going undone, and, ultimately, turnover). The policy was so absurd that, when I met with the new head of HR, they literally did not believe me that that was the policy until another line manager said the same thing. (Needless to say, that was changed immediately and new HR is much saner.)

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This pleases me that you were able to drill down, find the error of their ways and get it fixed with the new HR director.

        I have come in and found weirdly strict rules that made me ask “Are we adults here? Are we running a business or is this a secret prison colony?” that I have also been able to toss out. Much to everyone’s happiness and surprise, I have gotten a lot of “OMG you’re so much more chill than the last person.” more than once needless to say. Yeah,I’m not nickle and diming your PTO because why? Also it costs me money to hawk eye you over 15 minutes, watching pennies while losing dollars, no thanks.

        1. Carolyn Keene*

          “watching pennies while losing dollars”

          THIS! This is a thing more bosses need to understand, even without the hit to morale, company loyalty, etc.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          When the new head of HR came in, she asked something to the effect of how she could best support my team, and I basically told her to please not put into place any policies that disincentivize people from working the way we needed and to treat my all-over-21 employees like they were trustworthy adults rather than like they were all out to bilk the company. The reason she’s one of my favorite people to have ever worked with is that she subscribed to the philosophy that we set up the environment for the typical employee not the worst actors – that we would trust people until they gave us a reason not to and deal with the problems directly rather than penalizing the entire staff.

      2. Free Meerkats*

        The plant manager when I started here told the group managers that part of their job was to “be in the halls in the morning, noting when people come in.” We aren’t in time sensitive jobs, the turds will flow in whether we’re here or not. Later, when that didn’t produce the results he was apparently looking for, he started having IT run a report of when people logged into their computer in the morning and used that as a proxy for what time we got to work. So everyone started doing the daily mandatory computer restart/login in the afternoon and leaving them logged in overnight or just not logging in at all if not necessary that day.

        He also had a rule that no bowls or plates were allowed at one’s desk (we’re not in customer facing roles), only cups or mugs with single handles – he tried “with handles” and someone brought in basically a miniature soup tureen. You were allowed to eat anything you wanted to, it just had to be in a cup or mug.

        He was eventually moved from people management to project management.

  4. Brett*

    Advice is perfect. This feels so much like a situation where someone above the boss came down because they could not get a question answered right at 8 am.

    1. The Rat-Catcher*

      This is how I read this too. All the “corporate policy” language made me think that there is some type of central or corporate office and someone there got a bee in their bonnet about this, so Boss sent an email so they could say they “addressed it,” but they know that OP is doing what needs to be done right now.

        1. Observer*

          True. But it would be useful to the OP to address it as though this is what’s happening. On the one hand it lets the boss know that the email was ridiculous but on the other it lets him back off without losing face, even if it really was his initial idea.

    2. LGC*

      Yeah – if I had to put a reason on it, that would be it. If that’s the case, LW’s boss was probably rolling his eyes when he wrote that message.

      In larger organizations, or even medium sized ones (like mine), your direct line manager might not be calling the shots. When I’ve had to relay policies I know are unpopular, I’ll acknowledge that this is unpopular, say that it’s coming from on high, and direct up the chain when I’m instructed to. (While upper management makes a lot of unpopular decisions, they’re at least okay with employees talking directly to them about it instead of using the supervisors as shields.)

      In LW’s case, they should probably take several deep breaths, not go in with guns blazing, and ask about it. If the boss was writing in, I’d tell him to be as honest and sympathetic as possible with LW, and to explain the decision process. And also, to try to get LW some slack because they deserve it.

    3. willow19*

      I think that’s it in a nutshell. I am on part-time now, and the East coasters want me available to them at 8 am their time, so 6 am my time. And the West Coasters want me available to them until 5 their time, which is 6 my time. That’s an awfully long day for part-time. I do my hours to sort of split the difference – the East coasters can just wait a few hours to have their questions answered, and the West coasters can get their act together before the very end of their day if they need my help.

    4. Angry with numbers*

      At my first Job my boss instituted a rule that my teammate and could not go to lunch at the same time. It was because the SVP had come and asked him a question while we were both at lunch that he couldn’t answer. He should have been able to answer it, it was in a spreadsheet on the share drive. The urgency however was all in his head , the SVP was pretty chill and seemed totally unconcerned when I gave him the information about a half hour later. But after that day we had to do staggered lunches.

  5. Accalia*

    Yeah Nickle and dimeing on start times sucks. More so when the manager is giving you no indication if the communication is meant for you or not. even more so when you’re working such long hours!

    I’ve enjoyed flex hours in the past. Working 6:30-15:00 instead of 8:30-17:00 was awesome! Missed rush hour in both directions, I was up in time for 6:30 anyway, and I had so much extra daylight time afterwards. Awesome.

    Sadly I had to give that up when I got promoted to a leadership role….. Too many meetings need to happen to fit them in the 9:00-12:00/13:00-15:00 overlap i had with the rest of the office.

    I still miss those days sometimes.

  6. Engineer Girl*

    I had a few managers like this. This first was extremely rigid about time. No Birthday cakes on company time. No going away lunches – they had to be in the evening so as not to interfere with work. He made people work 8-5 even through our company actively encouraged flex time. Then manager got behind schedule and wanted people to work extra hours (without compensation of course). Nope. The entire team refused and the project failed. He was demoted. You reap what you sow

    I also had a crazy boss that used to scream at me. I had worked until 3 AM finishing tests. I emailed her before I left so she knew how late I worked. I came in to work at 9 AM that morning. That’s 6 hours, including commute back and forth to sleep. She started screaming at me (in front of the Sr Manager) about my lack of dedication. The other team members finally went to management to have her removed. She of course blamed me and retaliated against me even though I wasn’t involved (no, HR did NOT protect me).

    You can go choose to complain as a group or you can choose to leave. These types don’t change. Since your manager also appears to break promises you have your answer. You can try talking to the manager and point out your hours but these types usually get enraged by discussions like that.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        > You don’t scream at people.

        Nope, you don’t. But I had an experience a few years back that… well. A friend had spent months complaining about how their spouse would “scream” at them during disagreements. It really sounded quite abusive and we told our friend to hang out with us whenever he liked, spending the night was okay, open invitation, even just showing up without calling would be okay.

        And then one time he told me about how he and my wife had a disagreement over a board game, and my wife “screamed” at him, and I. Just. Stopped. My wife doesn’t scream. Truly truly. She can raise her voice slightly in an argument. She can yell at the cat no problem. But she just doesn’t scream in anger. Instead, if she’s that angry, her voice gets tight and she goes sooper-rational. It’s irritating, but it really *isn’t* screaming. So I asked our friend, and he said, well, the emotional impact was a screaming-level impact.

        Which of course led me to re-evaluate every story he’d ever told about his spouse screaming at him. Their marriage was troubled, yes, but the “screaming” was not what I had thought it was. To me, it’s a step above yelling, but I have learned that it’s not necessarily the same for other people.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          In this situation, your friend is an outlier though. A select few do use “scream” in the context they did, anything that’s testy/snappy/tense is “screaming” in their mind due to the emotional impact.

          However it’s just like yes, a few people will exaggerate or even fully lie about bad-things-happening to them. That doesn’t mean we should actively always be skeptical of a victim and downplay it as “well someone else has lied about this, so others aren’t above it.”

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            In some cases, I don’t even think it’s willful exaggeration or lying – I just think that some people take greater affront to raised voices or frustration or (scariest to me) when someone’s so mad that they get really quiet and no-frill-direct in their communication.

            I have had people complain about me because I sent them an email that said, “Person – Please give Bob the final version of the Guacamole Report no later than 2 p.m. today and make sure there are no salsa stains on it this time. Let me know if your run into any problems. NAM!”. Because I shouldn’t be giving them orders (I’m their boss), I should have said thank you (not just please), and I should not have referred to the last time that they delivered a food-stained report because it was embarrassing to them (so was the call I got from Bob about it last time), plus, I insinuated that they would have trouble with the assignment in my closing.

            This is not to say that bosses don’t yell and aren’t abusive – I’ve seen some crazy shit in legal and am at my current firm because they are NOT okay with that kind of crazy shit at all – or that complaints about such behavior shouldn’t be checked into and appropriate action taken. But, in my experience, it’s important to go by the trust-but-verify in these instances and not tar the extrovert-ate-my-introvert people with the fire-them-now binder-chuckers.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              Too often I’ve seen others minimize what a person was saying. This is especially true if the person is female and accused of being “emotional”. Perhaps they’ve never seen outrageous behavior clans can’t believe it’s happening in a work environment.
              The key is to ask clarifying questions rather than make assumptions based on your own biases.
              “What did that look like (sound like?). “Can you tell me what happened next?” Real incidents have real details as opposed to broad sweeping generalizations.

              Abusers rely on the fact that their target won’t be believed.

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                I’m well aware of the fact that abusers rely in the fact that people assume reasonableness – I was raised by a narcissist and endured years of people telling me that I was clearly misinterpreting behavior and encouraging me to “mend fences” after I cut ties… because surely no parent would behave that way towards their own child.

                I also clearly said in my response that you have to dig into what happened and both trust what someone has told you but verify the accuracy, so I’m a little confused by your response telling me that questions specific questions need to be asked. I’ve done this before, on both sides.

                1. Engineer Girl*

                  Many times people are sloppy on the “verify” part of checking. They want believe the other person is reasonable so therefore don’t ask the specific questions and look for specific answers.

                  For example, my bipolar sister went around to both sides of the family telling them how I “abused” her. When asked for details she’ll cry and yell abuse, abuse, abuse and then say how horrible and selfish I was (notice the generalities?)
                  Conversely, I can tell you she pushed my down the cement stairs and knocked my teeth out. I can tell you about how went into my bedroom and cut up my Jr Miss outfit to make a toy for the cat. I can tell you how she dressed in a transparent negligee and went in to my boyfriend and tried to seduce him (that’s one of the few times I saw him angry).

                  Most people don’t look for specifics. That’s my point. You said verify and I said how to do it.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          This is irrelevant to the conversation. My boss screamed at me to the point that people were popping up over the cubicle walls to see what was going on.

        3. SheLooksFamiliar*

          That’s galling, and behavior like that made me re-think things, too. My ex called me a nag because I asked him to do something. Twice. With a gap of 2 weeks between my requests. A co-worker’s husband ‘yelled’ at him, except I witnessed the ‘yelling’ and the ‘yeller’ barely raised his voice.

          I think most people are straightforward, but I take complaints about egregious behavior with a grain of salt.

          1. scribblingTiresias*

            ….Huh. I’ve always just casually used “yelled at” as equivalent to “told off” or “chewed out”, regardless of voice volume or nastiness. Is that not how most people use it?

            1. WonderIfMyBossReadsThisBlog*

              Uh, no. Yelling (to me) is literally raising one’s voice, communicating *loudly* and sharply.

            2. Jule*

              People do, but the point is that many, many other people interpret it literally, so unless you’re trying to exaggerate what someone did to you, it’s better not to use a misleading word.

          2. Impy*

            *shrug* guess that’s why some people didn’t believe me when I said my boss would repeatedly yell at me in front of others. He still did though, and I mean by that he raised his voice angrily etc and spookily, was completely calm in the next moment.

        4. Just a thought*

          I can see this re-framing the experience at a workplace, too. Your boss “screaming” at you could simply be a significant change in tone or volume — not to the level where an average person would think “scream,” but to the level where a person familiar with office norms would recognize how wildly out of place it is.

          I think for either definition, though, it is not appropriate.

          1. Eukomos*

            Seconded, screaming is not appropriate in the office in either the “high volume” sense or the “strong negative emotional impact” sense. Especially from a boss.

        5. RS*

          This is a weird comment. It has nothing to do with what Engineer Girl said. She was actually being screamed at.

        6. Sounds About Right*

          Seconded – I’m at a point where I take accusations of “screaming” with a grain of salt. It’s not that I don’t want to believe people, it’s just that I’ve realized that “screaming” seems to be very subjective in a way that “shouting” and “yelling” are not.

          A few months ago, I had an encounter with an employee, their supervisor, and their manager that ended in accusations of screaming. The conversation was disciplinary and related to poor performance, and it was the employee’s final warning before termination. Overall the tone was polite and civil, as we laid out the final warning and expectations. The only person in the room who was even slightly escalated was the employee. The employee came to see me (I’m Grandboss) later and said that she wanted to push back on the warning in the meeting, but couldn’t because her supervisor and manager had spent the entire time “screaming” at her, and she didn’t feel safe saying anything.

          And honestly, no one else had so much as raised their voice. The manager and supervisor were both sympathetic and firm, and the warning was clear and part of a well-documented process. The screaming was literally all in her head. I talked with my therapist about it, and she said she’d noticed that people default to feeling screamed at when they’re feeling small or helpless.

          This is obviously a YMMV issue, but the more I started paying attention to this, the more I noticed that “screaming” is about how someone made you feel/you made someone feel, not about actual volume or tone or even content.

      2. Engineer Girl*

        She threw a three ring binder at me once too. She was technically incompetent when it came to design for aerospace. She refused to see that aerospace was different than commercial (earth based) electronics.
        She also used to slap her name on my work and pass it off to the customer as her own.

  7. Rose's angel*

    Had a similar issue at my current job. My boss said something very similar to all of us. There was no reason for it. She later admitted that she was mad one particular person wasnt here. That person is a parent that left 10 minutes early to get their kid and had been working late and coming in early all week. Nothing was affected by my boss having to wait til the next day to have her question answered. She just had a bad day. For a while my entire department left at exactly 5. You would not see a single soul at 5:01. And not one person would stay late for any reason.

    1. prismo*

      My friend works at an office where people had enjoyed fairly flexible hours but definitely worked more than 40 hours per week regularly. It’s in a creative field where people are used to independence. Last summer the higher-ups tried to enforce an official start time of 8:30 a.m. and so everyone in the office decided to leave promptly at 5:30 every day and do zero work after that–no answering emails, no phone calls, etc. The policy lasted a week.

  8. Holly*

    It honestly depends on culture here… in my job which is all hands on deck and atypical, yes we might be required to be in at 9 despite working past midnight the night before. But I have an atypical job, and in the post the boss references hours of 8-5. If he wants you to come in at 8 due to corporate hours, but he’s willing to stretch corporate hours to have you in late, that’s not fair.

      1. valentine*

        he’s willing to stretch corporate hours to have you in late
        I doubt 5pm is a max. They may have no problem with OP working past midnight, as long as they’re in at 8am. (Assuming the email even applies to them, which it may well not.)

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          No it’s not the max, it’s the company’s business hours. But if the manager is unwilling to compromise on working hours, when it isn’t significantly affecting anyone or the company as a whole, you’re going to have a whole lot of people that aren’t going to give you one extra minute.

  9. Amber Rose*

    Alison’s advice is so good as usual. I was experiencing some second hand rage there for a minute and had already composed the first three paragraphs of a furious response email in my head. xD

    No, but seriously, boundaries are what need to be set here. Either you give flexibility and get it in return, or everyone is inflexible and work maybe gets delayed. You aren’t a slave, you’re an employee exchanging services for some sort of return (money or perks or whatever), so there’s no call for bending over backwards for nothing.

    There’s also no call for the RAGEMAIL that I know we all wish we could send at times like these, sadly. If you want to write one and not send it, that might be cathartic and a good way to blow off steam before talking things out like a reasonable adult.

    1. Letter Writer*

      This letter ended up being my ragemail, just edited down to ask if I was crazy or not. The first version of this was much more rage filled!

  10. twig*

    ah yes, reminds me of my first job out of college; my official “hell job” that I compare all other jobs to.

    I was reprimanded for not getting more done and reprimanded for working 15 minutes over time here and there. In the same conversation.

    If I had known better, I’d have started looking for another position, but I thought that work was supposed to suck.
    (Family motto passed down from a great grandfather: “Work is something you don’t want to do.”)

    1. JeanB in NC*

      In one review as a librarian, I was commended for my supervision of pages & 1 assistant, and also dinged because I didn’t push back on the library assistant not wanting to pull books for a Halloween display (she was Jehovah’s Witness, and I just pulled the books myself – no big deal).

  11. Foreign Octopus*

    Hey, OP. I definitely feel you on this.

    It’s worth a conversation with your boss as Alison suggests, but it does sound like you need to have multiple conversations with them about a number of issues. I would start dipping my toe in the water to see what’s out there, and brushing up on my CV. You say that you’ve gained valuable experience, which is brilliant, so make sure your CV reflects that. And don’t worry about the eight months you’ve been at the job. As we all know, hiring can take some time so you’ll probably have at least a year under your belt by the time you start receiving offers.

    If the boss does prove to be an ass that the email suggests they might be, then there’s nothing wrong with working the hours that they’ve specified and no more. I’m always loathe to work extra because I jealously guard my personal time, and this would have had me planting my flag on my hill and making my last stand.

  12. Tigger*

    I’m dealing with the same thing right now and it is infuriating. This is Alison hit the nail on the head OP, use her script and if no changes happen , start seriously job hunting

  13. Governmint Condition'*

    Government jobs often work this way. If the union representing all government workers has not negotiated “flex time” as a benefit, then all employees must work the core hours or charge time not at work, even if they must also work an off-hours shift. And in my state, this applies equally to exempt and non-exempt (with a few exceptions).

    1. jDC*

      Yep. My husband is gov and it’s the same. I always laugh when they give him an hour extra off (common before holidays) and he says “I get off at 4:01”. 4:01 EXACTLY. Good grief.

      1. I hate the offseason.*

        This is the “59 Minute” rule. For the Feds, supervisors can grant a brief period of administrative leave (excused absence) to employees. Technically, a brief period is not actually defined (this is not a law, per se), but it has been commonly interpreted as “up to one hour,” especially on the day before a holiday. At my old job, it was always granted by the supervisors, at the office level. At this job, my supervisor will not grant it unless the entire command gets it.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      But I’m sure employees are made aware of this at the start. OP arranged for flex hours. If that policy changed, then a mass email would be okay assuming others are working flex hours. If not, then they should have set up a meeting with each person and explained the situation.

  14. NothingIsLittle*

    Yeah, this is definitely ridiculous. One of my coworkers came in at 6 and left at 2:30, but when that started causing problems because people couldn’t talk to her when they needed to, my boss talked to her directly about changing her hours at least three days a week and let her decide how she specifically wanted to handle it (she ended up moving to 9:30-6 on 3 days, but she also would have been able to move her hours later on all days if she’d preferred that). Nickle and diming someone about when they come in really only makes sense if you have a specific need for them to be there during that time and if you discuss that need with them directly.

    Good luck in your conversation with your boss. This warrants an explanation and I hope you end up with a favorable response, or at least that a little malicious compliance convinces him to change his mind.

  15. Feline*

    Management who has no idea how many hours you are putting in can put their foot in their mouths without intending to. A senior manager said during one of our all-hands meetings, “My office window is over the parking lot and I see who leaves at 4:30. That’s not dedication.” The same senior manager waltzed in at 9:00 daily while many of us were in before 7 am. That’s crazymaking stuff. I resolved that you just have to tell yourself you know how much time you’re putting in and you aren’t shorting them, even if management doesn’t notice.

    1. Peaches*

      Ugh, I hate this. My office’s hours are 7:30-4:30. I consistently arrive between 7:20-7:30, and leave at 4:30 every day. My manager, who shows up at LEAST 25 minutes late every day, frequently makes snarky comments about how “everyone but [her] just rushes out the door at 4:30 every day.” Um, yeah. We do. We also got tons of work done before you even arrived in the office this morning. Also, the nature of my job is not at all on where overtime is needed. If I stayed late, I would just be doing it for the sake of doing it. Us leaving ON TIME in no way impacts our productivity.

      1. Kendra*

        This is such a pet peeve of mine; if you tell your people they work until 4:30, you don’t get to criticize them for leaving at 4:30!!! If you actually need them there later, change the dang schedule; if you don’t, keep your mouth SHUT.

        1. Yikes*

          I don’t know, do you really want to be the type of person who wears the bare minimum amount of flare?

          1. Peaches*

            If by “wear the bare minimum amount of flare” you mean “do the bare minimum amount of work”, I’d like to clarify that extra minutes on the job does NOT equal productivity at my job. I do an excellent job and have always gotten excellent feedback from peers and managers. Staying until 4:45 instead of 4:30 would have no impact. If there was time sensitive work, of course I would stay (and have done so a handful of times), but there is RARELY time sensitive work.

          2. Peaches*

            LOL, I just realized that perhaps you’re being sarcastic and you’re quoting Office Space. I’m embarrassed!

    2. S-Mart*

      Reminds me of senior ‘leadership’ at my first job. We were swamped and I got blasted for leaving ‘right on time’ at a couple minutes past 5… when my shift was 7-4, and I was routinely coming in around 6:30 and skipping part/all of my lunch. I went back to working 7-4; they weren’t even monitoring departures at 4, so I never heard about it again.

      Today I would probably talk with my boss and push back. New-to-work me didn’t have the skills/confidence/whatever for that conversation. Though my boss wasn’t all that great (as a boss – I liked him as a person and as an engineer) either, so I may not have gotten much traction there.

    3. Ama*

      Yes, the first thing I thought of was a previous job where the big bosses insisted I had to be at my desk at 9 am, even though the vast majority of the people I did admin for didn’t arrive at the office until 10:30 or later (university). When I pointed out that people kept coming to look for me after 5, they sent out an email reminder that admin staff left at 5 pm — which only resulted in people routinely showing up at 4:55 pm to drop an emergency on my desk that I then had to work until 6 pm or later to fix. I also was never allowed to come in late when I was required to work any of our evening lecture events (when I would usually not leave the office until 9 pm or later).

      I left long before they proposed changing the non-exempt salary threshold in the U.S. and I really wish it had gone through because they would have had to have faced how much overtime they were requiring that position to work.

    4. hbc*

      I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I used to basically do 6:30 to 3:30, often without a lunch break. One guy used to always make a comment about how early I was leaving when he saw me. But then I stayed until 4:30 for some reason, and the place was a freaking ghost town–all those people who rolled in at 8-9 were nowhere to be found.

      I’ve since figured out, if anyone is commenting on your schedule like that, it’s almost always projection. *They* would be leaving at 3:30 or coming in at 10:00 to cut work short, and they can’t imagine someone actually working at 8pm or 6am.

      1. Angry with numbers*

        We have flex time at my office and in our dept almost everyone uses it to come in early leave early. The one guy who comes in later and works later would always basically announce when any of the early people were leaving. People started leaving at 4 with everyone but him done at 5:30 and he was supposed to be there until 7. What was funny was when I was taking a class after work with a friend, I usually carpool with my husband so she would pick me up from work to go to class. She worked later than me so I would leave at 5 go across the street to get some dinner and hang out. It was a quilting class so instead of lugging my stuff across to the restaurant I would leave it at my desk and run up and get it around ten after 6 when my friend picked me up. For the 8 weeks of the class he was never still there when I went to pick up my stuff. It didn’t really effect me but thought it was so strange he felt the need to be like “Leaving already ?” to people when he was cutting out at least an hour early on a regular basis.

        1. Tan*

          Did you ever comment back to him i.e. “yes and you’d be leaving now too if you in at 6 am” or “yes, I’ve already done my 8 hours” etc or even more controversially “yes, this is my leaving time, I thought yours was 7 pm but I’ve been coming back into the office at 6 pm the past few weeks and haven’t seen you once”

        2. TardyTardis*

          I will admit that when I worked 9 to 6, that the place was a ghost town by the time I was ready to go (Schadenfriday: ‘the sinking feeling that everyone has gone home for the weekend but you.’). But I could get a lot more stuff done then without any ‘help me’ emails coming down the pipe.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Honest to god, I am so glad my boss made a comment one time about how I’m “always here early” because what you said is definitely more common in my experience.

      2. Lusara*

        Yup. I once worked at a company that had flex time and when it came time for layoffs, the three of us who worked the earliest shifts were the ones who got cut.

  16. Working Mom Having It All*

    I generally agree with Allison’s response (the answer here is to check in with your manager about this and find out what the deal is and whether you can work something out), but I do have one caveat.

    You mention you’re working 50-60 hours a week. That implies that you are working 10-12 hour days at least some of the time. You also mention that you’re often in the office till 9 PM, and that you are thus shifting your work hours to come in at 9:30 AM because of how late you’re in the office.

    But… if you’re working for 10-12 hours, and you’re coming in at 9:30… you’re going to be in the office till 9 as a matter of course. If you came in at 8, you would be leaving most days between 6:30 and 8.

    I see how coming in at 8 sucks (honestly I work an 8 hour day and still don’t want to come in at 8), but if it’s the official start time of your company, you were told that your start time was at 8 when you took the job, most of your coworkers are in at 8, AND your work hours are such that starting at 9:30 keeps you in the office until quite late at night, you might need to suck it up and come in at 8. Or, at the very least, expect that it looks out of step for you to be shifting your work day that much and that you may need to have a specific conversation about it with your manager. And that your manager might not agree to shifting your work schedule that much.

    At least in my field, when people talk about “flexible start times” they mean, like, nobody’s going to write you up if you get stuck in bad traffic and come in a few minutes late occasionally. Or that it might be OK to shift by half an hour to an hour. Coming in an hour and a half late every single day would not be acceptable without at least a conversation with your immediate supervisor.

    1. Amy*

      A conversation with OP’s supervisor is clearly the next step, but there are a lot of assumptions in your answer. Maybe OP is going to be much less productive at 8am and end up working later. Maybe there are other players or other time zones involves and OP will now be working from 8am to 9:30 to do the same work. Maybe OP is only able to put in the extra hours because coming in late allows OP to trade some responsibilities with another family member and OP will now need to leave earlier in general to come in at 8. You can’t just assume all hours of work are fungible.

      1. valentine*

        you were told that your start time was at 8 when you took the job
        The company is already having it both ways, but it’d be really rich if they insisted OP adhere to this when they pulled a bait and switch, then overwhelmed them with work.

        1. Working Mom Having It All*

          Well… if everyone else at the company is coming in at 8, and if OP was coming in at 8 before her hours increased, then, yeah, her start time is 8 and she should discuss it with someone before deciding that her new start time is 9:30 because reasons.

          Usually it’s fine to “take your turnaround” if you work until late at night one time, or very occasionally. Deciding to shift your regular start time by over an hour because said shifted start time is causing your hours to go later and later is usually not a great choice. Especially to do it without ever talking about it with anyone.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I thought the OP made it clear that they had flex time, so coming in late would be OK. It’s insane how much she’s having to work.

            1. Devil Fish*

              Right. I don’t understand how a company can claim to have flex time and also require everyone to be in the building during core hours that cover nine hours of the day. How does that even work?

              OP made the point that their 10-12 hour days were because of extra work, not because 10-12 hour days are normal at that company/in that industry. Doesn’t seem to leave much time for flexing.

      2. Working Mom Having It All*

        Sure, all of that is true. But it’s all stuff that OP needs to talk to their manager about before they just assume that they can come in an hour and a half late on a regular basis.

    2. Mediamaven*

      I agree with everything you have here and I’ll add that coming in an hour and a half after the designated start time is pretty significant. Not every company can or should enable that much flexibility. We have a very team oriented, collaborative environment and that means if someone isn’t in the office, everything from client work to peer work is impacted even if it’s just slightly.

      1. curlykat*

        I agree, as well. I realize that not everyone is an early bird like I am, but what we’re missing is OP’s explanation of why her hours are shifted beyond “I’m working late, so I’ll come in late.” 9-9 could just as easily be 8-8 or 7-7. If someone’s absence impacts the team first thing, it makes sense to adjust hours back to the accepted “norm.”

    3. SarahKay*

      I’m assuming that OP was also told she’d be working a 40 hour week when she took the job. If the company aren’t following what they said were their requirements for the job then it’s entirely unreasonable of them to expect that OP should.
      Now granted, OP was told she was taking a very different job, so the company has already been unreasonable, and OP may well have to suck it up and start at their official time. But I’d say she’s fully justified in her rage.

      1. Working Mom Having It All*

        Sure, but in that case OP needs to talk to her manager about the amount of overtime, not what time to come in.

        If the answer is that OP has a hard out after 8 hours, unless there’s a very occasional emergency, that’s what she needs to tell her manager. The start time is neither here nor there.

    4. boo bot*

      I agree with you, and I also find it a little frustrating, because a 10-12 hour day from 8-8 just isn’t the same as 9:30-9:30 for some people.

      I tend to be a functional-in-the-morning person, and I really run out of steam by the end of the day – staying until 9 PM to finish something means I’m going to be doing lower quality work, more slowly; it’s absolutely a last resort. And, I know some people really can’t get out of the fog earlier, and the time from 8 AM – 9:30 AM that they’ve *theoretically* added to the beginning of their day, isn’t going to be productive at all.

      None of that really helps the OP, but I feel for them – if you’re putting in 10-12 hour days, ideally you should at least get to choose which 10-12 hours you’re working!

      1. Working Mom Having It All*

        I would absolutely prefer to work 9:30-9:30 over 8-8. So I fully get it. However, I also assume that I would need to address that with my supervisor if that was out of step with workplace norms.

        I have a coworker who has negotiated a shifted work day so that he can be in from 11-8 instead of 9-6. That’s great! However, he did not unilaterally decide to start doing that and spring it on his supervisor out of nowhere, and then act put out when someone noticed.

        1. boo bot*

          Oh definitely, that’s why I said I agree with you! I was just musing about how big a difference that kind of seemingly minor schedule shift can make, especially when you’re working such long hours.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      I was just going to say this. “On the other hand, if I’m working until 9 at night, then going home to eat and sleep before coming in all over again – what difference does an hour make in the morning?”

      If it doesn’t matter, then it’s just as valid for your boss to ask you to come in earlier. You’d just leave earlier. It’s the same number of hours, shifted forward.

      And if the problem is that you’re not available when you’re needed, then it matters a lot. But your boss messed up the communication here.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not necessarily true. In my position I’m at the end of the delivery chain — if everyone else’s delivery dates slip, I may receive my task _ON_ the day that it’s due, after I’ve already been at work half a day.

    7. Letter Writer*

      When I was originally offered the position, they had core office hours from 9 am – 4 pm, with some flexibility around that as well depending on your group. I’m not a morning person at all, to the point of not being functional. People in my group arrive anywhere from 5:30 am (my boss who works insane hours) to 11:00 am (a PM who stays until 8 or 9 pm) so in my observations I was fine coming in at 9-9:30, especially when I’d get last minute emergency requests at 5 that had to be done that night. Then corporate policy was changed to be 8 am – 5 pm, with no flexibility allowed. But this wasn’t announced or posted anywhere so nobody knew about it until the email. I’ve adjusted my hours and cut back on the overall amount, but I can’t guarantee that the first 30 mins or so are very productive.

      1. Working Mom Having It All*

        Yeah, I think the conversation you should have with your boss is that you initially were hired to work a 6 or 7 hour day, and now you’re working what sounds like around the clock (?) with no discussion of how that should be accommodated in your work schedule.

        You need a serious sit-down with your manager about what their expectations are regarding your work hours. Because nothing here is reasonable, in, like, any of the directions they have tried to pull you. Except for the 8-5 thing, which is pretty standard across most white collar fields.

        1. Letter Writer*

          For now it’s calmed down where I’m working 40-45 hour weeks depending on submittals and deadlines, and I’m happy with the 8:30-5 or so time that has happened. The minute things start to heat up again I’m definitely having a conversation on schedules to make sure my boss and I are on the same wavelength!

          1. Working Mom Having It All*

            Wait… why do you assume it’s OK to come in at 8:30 and work fewer hours than expected? 8-5 is 8-5. Flexibility might mean that it’s 8:30-5 if there was a blizzard and traffic was a nightmare, or that it’s 8:30-5:30 in your particular case if your manager agrees it’s OK for people to shift their work hours within reason.

            But, yeah… it kind of sounds like your manager’s email was on point, if you know your start time is 8, you routinely come in at 8:30 with no explanation, and you’re still leaving at 5. Especially since 45 hours isn’t usually seen as an outrageous amount of overtime.

            1. Letter Writer*

              I asked my new supervisor and he was fine with it. I don’t take lunch most days or if I do then I just grab food and eat at my desk – it’s still 40 hours minimum. Arriving at 8:30 puts me at 3rd or 4th in the group of about 15, so it’s definitely not outrageous.

            2. Risha*

              What a weird comment. If the office hours were changed and previously allowed flexibility was removed without prior notice then the email was not on point, and if she’s still working a 45 hours a week then she’s not shortchanging her day. Sounds like you’re someone who takes exact start and end times WAY too seriously for a (presumably) exempt, salaried position, the exact point of which is to not work an exactly 40 hour week.

            3. GS*

              To Working Mom Having it All – a lot of professional, salaried jobs really don’t have strict start and end times, I think the Letter Writer’s approach of watching what others do makes more sense. Is your background in more hourly positions?

              1. Working Mom Having It All*


                I also work in a field where there aren’t strict start and end times, per se. Except that… you know, it’s an office. It can vary from team to team and person to person, but in general the business day starts around 9, and the place empties out by 6. If someone started showing up at 10:30 every day, for unexplained reasons, that would be noticed and not in a good way. Similarly, it probably wouldn’t work if someone wanted to come in from noon to 9PM without arranging it with their manager, even though I suppose the building is open and there are no timeclocks or anything. When people come in after, say, 9:15, it tends to be with a perfunctory “omg traffic was the worrrrsssstttttt this morning” or “I can’t believe I slept through my alarm!” If there’s a disaster and I’m going to get to the office closer to 10, I email my team to let them know.

                I’ve also worked in offices where that semi-unspoken start time was 8, and the place emptied out around 5.

                I have never worked in an office environment (in around 20 years of office work) where people just popped in and out whenever, without telling anyone or having any set schedule. In my experience it would be very odd to assume this was a workplace norm unless otherwise stated.

                1. ArtsNerd*

                  In my office, people pop in and out whenever. It’s a casual office that offers extreme flexibility to make up for low pay. Folks generally have a schedule they stick to (I’m 11ish-7ish) but things come up on short or little notice.

                  Another thing that my office does — and it seems like LW’s does too — is allow for shortened hours during slower times, to the extent that workload allows, to compensate for the 50+ hour weeks when we’re slammed.

                  LW figured out it was an office norm by watching the office culture. It’s not the most common setup but it happens! I’m a highly valued employee and when I’ve apologized for my night-owl schedule in the past, my director just shrugged and said “good morning” and occasionally: “I’ve only been here for 30 minutes myself.”

                2. Blue Horizon*

                  At my (flexible hours) office, time is divided into “time when an employee might or might not be here, depending on their schedule” and “time when people should be able to book you for meetings and expect you to attend.” The second category covers about six hours in the middle of the day.

                3. Jules the 3rd*

                  My office is ‘pop in and out whenever’ for most empolyees. I rolled in at 10 yesterday, 8 today. Fortune 500 company, over 10K employees, US South.

                  If the work gets done, nobody cares *when* that happens. You’ll only get a comment on time spent if the work isn’t getting done or if you’re missing meetings.

          2. Just Play A Doctor On TV*

            I personally would just get up and leave every day at 5pm on the dot. I am not a morning person to the point that a doctor has diagnosed me with a circadian rhythm disorder, so if you ask me to be anywhere by 8am, you’re likely to get maybe 50% of my full productivity as a result. FWIW, one of the companies I do contract work for had a new and awful person come in as the new site manager. She’s fired almost everyone and she’s hammering a person whose position was always meant to be remote but who had been doing some work at home in the morning and then comes in in the afternoon to work an 8-5 schedule now. She’s a crazy micromanager who is clearly doing a lot of things just to power play on employees and try to get them from speaking to each other (as if people don’t immediately form a non-work chat group to complain in those situations lol). I sympathize!

          3. Koala dreams*

            I think it’s worth it to have the conversation now when things are calm, especially about the longer hours (it sounds like they still require you to work two hours more). If you do it now it’ll probably go over better with your boss, and you can refer back to this conversation next time your boss suddenly changes the schedule.

      2. Koala dreams*

        Yeah, it sucks that the office hours are changed overnight with only an email and no other communication. Also, it’s a pretty big step down to make the hours longer by that much. I hope the conversation with your boss goes well and that you find something better in the future!

      3. Risha*

        Even aside from the reduced flexibility, a sudden shift of the official office hours from 9 to 8 is a nightmare. That alone would have me with one foot out the door. I am NOT a morning person and an 8am start time would be a deal breaker when job hunting, because there’s no chance in hell of me making it in on time more than once a week.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          My childcare options don’t even open until 7.45am so 9am is doable but 8am ha ha ha ha ha.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        If I am following this here, the job is not what you were told on the interview and your boss said he would fix that later, then the whole blow up with the start times happened. So basically, OP, this job has nothing left of what you were originally told the job was. Even the time frames have been reset.

        To me it looks like the clock watching is a symptom but the real problem is this is NOT the job you signed on for, they have changed the job that much. Instead of remembering you are doing work that is not what you had agreed to, the boss starts micromanaging your work times. How pleasant. NOT.

        If I were your boss I would be real nervous that you had one foot out the door. You do sound calmer here though, so that is good.

    8. Tinker*

      10-12 hour days are not some sort of default state that is only tangential to the question at hand, they’re flexibility that the LW has been extending to their employer that the employer now appears to be proposing not to reciprocate at all. The official hour are 8… to 5. They start at 8AM… and also END at 5PM. One would think that four hours late getting out of work would at least be significant enough to comment on.

      I do agree that the employer could decide that they value LW working from 8-5 more than they value working from 9-9 — truthfully, that’s probably the more sensible option long term, as those sort of working hours are typically not efficiently sustainable. But it might not be possible in the current state of the business, and so giving the employer the heads up that they may be about to shoot themselves in the foot is the correct professional move.

      1. Working Mom Having It All*

        I mean… if OP is being assigned overtime, then that’s what it is. In my field, when it’s crunch time and everyone has to work extra hours, they just do, and usually introducing overtime to the equation doesn’t mean the worker is now free to come and go whenever.

        In my experience it would be typical for overtime to mean that instead of working 8-5, OP now works 8-8. Does that suck? Yes, it absolutely does. And there needs to be a conversation about whether OP can handle all this overtime, whether it’s being properly compensated, what to expect going forward, and whether her supervisor is open to shifting her work day in response to the number of hours she’s now working. But the simple fact of regularly working overtime doesn’t usually give the worker the right to change their schedule at will.

        1. Tinker*

          Sure! Sometimes you can’t have people changing their schedule at will. As I said, it could be that the employer values adherence to their schedule of starting work at 8AM and ending it at 5PM, and if it seems relevant that choice should certainly be presented to them.

          1. Tinker*

            And yes, if the answer is actually “you start more or less exactly at 8, and leave eventually at some time definitely later than 5” — that too is a choice best rendered explicit, because the unspoken downside then becomes “at some unknown point in the future you start getting no hours from your ex-employee who sold those skills you need to a more sensible customer”.

        2. cmcinnyc*

          It depends on the nature of the work though, doesn’t it? At my job, no one is “assigned overtime.” You have a project and a deadline and it has to get done. Some projects will be breezy and some will be a nightmare. Some months people are strolling in at 9:30, going out for lunches and coffees, and leaving at 5:00. Then there are stretches when people seem to practically live here. Obviously there are jobs where being available at set times is crucial, but this isn’t one of them. It doesn’t sound like the LW’s job is one of them, either.

          1. Working Mom Having It All*

            But it sounds like in this case, OP *is* being assigned overtime. If you were hired to work 9-4, and then you are getting tasks that routinely take longer than that time to complete, and which have hard deadlines that can’t be rolled over to the following day, then… you’re being assigned overtime.

            If this wasn’t previously discussed, you should have a conversation with your supervisor about that initial promise of 9-4 and whether the work can reasonably be completed in that time. Or a raise. Or bringing in additional help during crunch time. Or tasks being balanced more equitably, if OP is the only one stuck staying till 9PM on a regular basis.

            But, yeah, assuming this is a situation where OP is being expected to work more than 40 hours a week, that’s literally what overtime is.

            1. Michaela*

              Most jobs I’ve had don’t work like that – and it doesn’t account for slow people who are perhaps bad at their jobs (which is not likely the case here, just has been a factor in other roles I’ve had). I find the more senior the role, the more autonomy there tends to be in how you handle your work day.

              If I had a supervisor who espoused similar values to you, I would quit, and have quit, which is why I have a never work for an accountant rule, which once happened after a re-org.

    9. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      IME, a flexible start time means just that. It has nothing to do with coming in late sometimes because of traffic. And she DID have a conversation with her supervisor, who agreed to her starting at 9:30. It depends on the company and what she does, but an hour and a half difference in the morning isn’t a big deal. If the company policy has changed, then manager should have said that. Not sent out a contradicting passive aggressive email to the entire team.

    10. Spreadsheets and Books*

      This isn’t necessarily true. At my last office, it was pretty much par for the course for the team to leave together unless someone had a rare outside obligation, like a business dinner. If we left at 7 PM, we left at 7 PM, regardless of whether you showed up at 7 AM to get some work done early or strolled in a few minutes after 9 AM.

    11. Koala dreams*

      Actually, I think two hour flex morning and evening is pretty normal. So you would come in between 7 and 9 and leave between 4 and 6, when the core hours are 8-5 (which is quite long core hours actually). A flex schedule where the flex is only a couple of minutes in the morning and only means leaving later, never earlier is not much of a flex schedule. I agree that a discussion with the manager is needed, especially about the long working hours but also about the schedule.

      1. the_scientist*

        I agree that those are actually quite long core hours so I suspect OP’s company is mis-using the phrase “core hours” when what they really mean are “standard hours of work.” To me, core hours means something like
        “everyone is expected to be available between the hours of 9:30 and 3:00, all meetings are scheduling during this time period, you can work outside of the core hours as best fits your schedule,” whereas “standard hours of work” is a bit different. Plus as someone else mentioned, suddenly shifting corporate hours an hour earlier is actually kind of a huge imposition!

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Ditto. Office open 7am-10pm (say), flexitime for everyone, but you have to be working 10-12 and 2-4, so anyone booking a meeting in those windows can assume you’re available. 7-4 fine, 10-10 with a two-hour lunch fine.

        2. Drama Llama's Mama*

          That’s what it means in my company, we are spread out all over the US with major offices in DFW and Chicago. Our “core hours” are 10 am – 4 pm central, and everyone works a full-time schedule around that block. I’m east coast and am logged in and working 9 am – 5:30 pm eastern about 90% of the time, but have the flexibility for appointments and such.

          1. londonedit*

            We also have core hours between 10am and 4pm, when everyone is expected to be in the office. You have to request permission from your manager to work a different regular pattern than the standard office hours of 9am-5.30pm, but you can ask to work anything from 7.30am-4pm to 10am-6.30pm. Personally, I do 8.30am-5pm because that works best for me. There’s also flexibility for emergencies – if you’re late because of transport trouble, it’s no problem for you to just add on the time at the end of the day and you don’t have to notify anyone formally that you’re doing that (I’m talking if you’re half an hour late or something – no one is going to mind if you’re 10-15 minutes late because the trains were buggered!)

        3. Koala dreams*

          Sorry, I see upon re-reading the question that it says “corporate hours” not “core hours”. I guess corporate hours is something else than core hours? Anyway, it’s quite confusing to me. I would expect a flex schedule to eat into the 8-5 period. The idea would be that some people are morning owls and some night owls, so there would at least be someone in before 9 (or 10) and someone else staying after 4 (or 3), not that everybody stays more than a full 8 hours every day.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            My experience is that “core hours” only exist when there is schedule flexibility and means you can start earlier and end later but your day needs to encompass the entirety of the “core hours” block. For example my previous employer had 11a-3p “core hours”. So the latest you were expected to start was an 11a-8p day with an hour lunch, and the earliest earlybird was expected to work 6a-3p, but most people did something in between.
            “Corporate hours’ in most cases I’ve encountered it implies there is no schedule flexibility in general (although specific roles might have specific non-standard schedules), but unless you know you are explicitly one of those roles with a non-standard schedule, everyone else is expected to work the schedule that is “corporate hours”.
            So the email OP got sounds like it was both changing the 9a start time she was originally told to expect with this job AND revoking the flexibility she was told to expect. That’s on top of the role not being as it was initially presented. So it’s a triple bait and switch.

      2. alienor*

        Yep, that’s how the flex schedule at my company works. In the past we were supposed to choose set hours from those flex times and have them posted at our desks (so you could pick 7-4, 8:30-5:30, whatever you wanted, but it had to be the same every day) but these days people mostly seem to just come and go according to their schedules for that week. I think things got more relaxed once everyone had a mobile phone.

    12. Cafe au Lait*

      My first thought was that OP’s job relied on other people to do their jobs first, and then OP can start her work since she’s no longer waiting on theirs. If a department/person is routinely getting their work to OP by 5pm (close of the day–a reasonable expectation), then OP is staying until 9pm so that it can be ready for next person/department by opening tomorrow.

      I was once reprimanded for having student employees tackle projects while I took my lunch. My then-boss thought it was poor optics to have students working when I was obviously not. Often I was having them do the rote work so that I could start the detailed aspects of the tasks once I clocked back in.

      1. Working Mom Having It All*

        But if that’s the case, then she needs to either build in a workflow where she can handle those 5PM hand-offs without needing to stay in the office till all hours, or she needs to negotiate a situation where she’s a “night auditor” or the like and works 3-10 PM instead of sitting around all day waiting for tasks that never come till the end of her business day. Or she needs to just walk out at 5, regardless of when the other person got her their work, and make it clear that she doesn’t work around the clock or have an immediate turnaround on non-urgent tasks.

        And if the issue is that these are urgent tasks, then the person interpreting the deadline as “end of day” when it needs to be handed in much earlier should be the one being managed, here, not OP.

    13. Peter the Bubblehead*

      In my office, flexible hours means something VERY different than your interpretation.

      My office is open for business from 5:30am to 5:30pm. I can come in at 5:30 one day, 7:30 the next day, and 9:30 the day after that, and as long as I get my 8 hour day in prior to or at 5:30pm (or a total of 40 hours in a single M-F week) I can work whatever times I need.

      Got an oil change appointment at 1pm on Tuesday? No problem, just work two extra hours on Wednesday, or even a single extra hour Wednesday AND Thursday.

      Need a day off on Friday for a special event but you don’t want to use PTO? No problem, just work 10 hour days Monday through Thursday.

      THAT is flex time!

      1. Det. Charles Boyle*

        This is how flextime works in my department, too. People come in between 7 – 10 a.m. and leave between 3 – 6 p.m. We all get our work done and our managers trust us. We let one another know if we’re going to be out in the middle of the day or gone for an entire day, but otherwise, no one cares what time you get in or what time you leave.

    14. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

      If they were told their start time was flexible, that means that you negotiate with your boss what your hours will be. If later on they go all rigid 8 to 5, that is a change.

      Where I work, my commute is drastically different if I work 8 to 5 vs 10 to 7. As in twice as long. If my boss suddenly insisted I work rigid 8 to 5, I would be wallpapering the area with my resume.

      When management changes the rules unilaterally and capriciously without any negotiation or warning, that is a sign of a company that is circling the drain. Management is grasping at straws for control (and excuses to cut headcount without triggering the WARN act.) I’ve seen it enough time that it is a big red flag, and the fastest way to get me looking hard for a new gig.

      I’m exempt. I work, on average, 45 hours or more a week, plus 24×7 on call. The only time I’m not on-call is if I’m on vacation, out sick, or at an appointment. I wake up at all hours at the sound of a text alarm to log on and fix things. If management wanted to hold me to rigid “traditional office” hours, I would start working strict hours and demanding comp time for on-call, as well as be looking to leave.

      The point is, in exchange for real flexibility on hours my employer gets flexibility on when I work out side of office hours. They benefit. My employer isn’t dumb enough to push it.

  17. Llellayena*

    This sounds annoying, but if your hours lately have been 9:30am-8pm (averaging the end times) is that significantly different than 8am-6:30pm? I think the idea behind “corporate hours” is that those are the hours in which there should be enough coverage in the office to answer any questions that come up or deal with any collaborative work. Coming in an hour and a half later than everyone(?) else limits when those things can occur. I’m dealing with clients in a time zone 1 hour off and fitting meetings/phone calls/correspondence into the reduced hours where we overlap can occasionally be frustrating. I can imagine if a similar availability issue was occurring with someone IN my office.

    I do agree that some flexibility should be allowed. Coming in on the dot at 8 is ridiculous to enforce. But I can see an hour and a half later than expected being something of an issue. And yes, the general email to everyone is not the way this should be handled.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I guess that means the OP shouldn’t work OVERTIME and 12 hour days to get the work done any more either.

      1. Llellayena*

        If you’re working a 10 hour day, it’s 2hrs of overtime no matter when it starts in the morning. But 10 hours where 8 of them overlap with others and 10 hours where only 6 of them overlap is different and depending on the type of work could affect the number of overtime hours needed to finish.

        1. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

          No. If the employer is rigid on office hours, the employee needs to be rigid on overtime. The employer can’t have it both ways and not engender resentment.

          There is very little that is not directly customer facing or dealing with outside schedules (eg court, agency, etc.) that can’t wait a couple hours. It is a conceit that people want all their answers immediately.

          Also, when you work with international teams, traditional office hours are a joke. Flexibility is necessary.

      1. Llellayena*

        Very much no. Only by necessity. But overlapping my work hours with the people I need to work with is one of those things that makes earlier hours a necessity.

  18. Amy*

    I have second-hand rage for you. I work for the government. We are literally required to keep track of every minute someone is out. For a while, I was putting in serious overtime, fielding work on breaks, working through lunch, etc. My job is literally (legally) not allowed to even suggest I do any of that. So, when a memo came down from on high attempting to further nickel and dime breaks and lunches, my grandboss preemptively addressed it by actually talking with me, noting that she was now required to enforce X, but that under the circumstances, it would be fairly ridiculous to do so with me given the extra work I was temporarily handling, and just left it at that. I never heard another word about these new rules (not even an all-office email), until I resumed normal working time (and even then, I didn’t hear about it, just started following them). It’s wildly unreasonable for an employer to expect extra work and extra time, while offering nothing in return. I’d die on that hill (or at least start leaving at 5 on the dot).

  19. A Simple Narwhal*

    Ooooh that burns my bread. Bosses/companies that are unforgiving about start time but will gladly make you stay late make me see red like nothing else.

    It sounds like there are a lot of bigger picture problems going on with the OP’s job, but if the boss insists 8-5 I highly recommend some malicious compliance and no longer working a moment past 5.

    1. Accalia*


      If the job won’t give you any flexibility then you don’t give it any either.

      You’ve been contracted to teach “Advanced Basket Weaving in Four Dimensions” every night at 17:15, so sorry you can’t stay late, but you know how it is, gotta be on time!

      or you know just say bluntly that office hours are 8:00-17:00. I’t now 17:00 so the office is closed. You’ll deal with matters first thing tomorrow (or Monday if this happens to be Friday)

    2. Letter Writer*

      I thought about doing this just to show how ridiculous it was, but decided to adopt the wait-and-see approach to see if this would be a lasting change. Turns out, not so much! I definitely leave earlier now no matter my workload as I have other priorities than the insane deadlines they enforce. And I’ve talked with the PMs about more delegation of tasks so that I’m not working until midnight (which was also happening).

      1. Johnny Tarr*

        The OP said it would be “childish” to leave exactly at 5, and I had a loooong pause at that. I guess I could see that as childish, if I squint. But I would certainly be doing it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          People rise and fall in sync with levels of treatment they receive. If a boss/company treats employees like children, then they are going to end up with a group of very tall children. Not only will people arrive and leave exactly on time, the boss may start to notice problems in the decision making processes. Things that used to just get handled suddenly require additional inputs and efforts. This stuff happens. And it happens often enough that management cannot be surprised by it.

          1. Alice Ulf*

            Good grief, I never realized the problems with my organization could be summed up so briefly and so eloquently. I’m particularly struck by “things that used to just get handled suddenly require additional inputs and efforts.”

  20. Liz T*

    The worst part of the email is that it’s so weasley as to be meaningless! “We’re casual about work hours, but the hours are 8-5.” So we’re not casual about hours, then?

    1. Camellia*

      Well, they’re casual about OVERTIME hours. Feel free to work as much of those as you want. Or that we can force you to.

      1. S-Mart*

        Hehe. I had a job which claimed they had flexible hours: start whenever you want before 8, leave whenever you want after 5. Oh, but lunch is a rigid 12-1. Some of them actually believed that was ‘flexible’ (or had reasonably compelling poker faces; I’m admittedly not great at reading through lies).

        I’m grateful my last few (including current) employers actually know what flexible means.

    2. Double A*

      We’re casual about business hours interfering with your personal time, but not the other way around.

    3. Working Mom Having It All*

      In my field “we’re casual about hours, but the hours are 8-5” is typically understood to mean that it’s OK to accidentally be late on occasion, or that something like 8:30 to 5:30 or 7-4 can probably work. But it usually doesn’t mean that it’s OK to routinely shift your work schedule by over an hour without giving anyone a heads up, or that it’s OK to be half an hour late every day. Or for that “omg traffic was the worrrssssttt” moment to creep into a routine thing.

      Honestly, having had jobs that involved a lot of overtime in the past, I would still err on the side of shooting my boss an email if I was in the office so late that I felt like I needed to shift my start time the next day.

  21. Jesse*

    If the boss had an issue, they should have chatted directly with the LW, period. This group-wide email was unnecessary.

    9:30 compared to 8:00 is quite a difference though, and I think it would have been wise to just check-in first. Personally, it impacts me when someone starts far later than the rest but it’s approved so I can’t complain. My work is not on their radar so they don’t necessarily realize it.

    1. valentine*

      9:30 compared to 8:00 is quite a difference though
      Not when there will be people who chisel away at it with socializing, coffee, and anything else it’s possible to do at work to postpone working.

      1. Jesse*

        It depends on the office though because for some positions, a 1.5 hour difference does matter.

        This is why these conversations should happen.

        People assume 8:00 to 9:30 is nothing. It is, to them, but not to everyone. This morning, I had to meet someone. She didn’t feel like starting until 10, which is no big deal for her, and now I have to work later at night after my kids go to bed. That’s the breaks, but people do need to understand that sometimes, “flexible schedules” can impact others.

    2. Koala dreams*

      It sounds like the hours changed for the whole office according to a comment above, so a group announcement was probably necessary, but it would’ve been better to do it in person first, then email, then implementing the new policy.

  22. Hall monitor*

    I agree with everything written here, but I have seen a more extreme version of what the OP is doing, not go well. We have a newer hire who sometimes doesn’t start working until 1 or 2pm. She puts in the required time, but her schedule creates issues when we need her for something in the morning. It’s also a problem because she’ll stay up to 1 in the morning working sometimes, and then complain about not getting enough sleep and how demanding and horrible her job is. Her boss sent out an office wide email about core hours recently, and we all know it’s related to this one co-worker. I almost thought OP could be our co-worker, but enough details are off. :)

    I do think non typical schedules can be disruptive to the rest of the team. That said, I’d never worry about a 9:30 arrival.

  23. Whoops*

    I’m in sort of a similar situation with one of my reports right now. She keeps clocking in at 8:03 or 8:06. I don’t care, because she usually ends up clocking out at 5:06 or 5:07, and I don’t think a few minutes are that important. But i know my boss is going to tell me to sit her down soon and have a talk with her about punctuality, and I’m just annoyed at the thought.

      1. SarahKay*

        Add a link – it’ll send your comment to moderation and you can ask Alison to delete your original comment.

    1. NothingIsLittle*

      I’m a little confused by your response here. Are you saying that you know punctuality bothers your boss, to the point that they will call your report in to chastise her, and you haven’t told your report that? You should really let her know that her grand-boss is a stickler for start times because if you don’t say anything to her, she’s going to continue to think that what she’s doing is okay, which it’s not. I agree with you that it’s ridiculous, but if you won’t enforce it, I think she has a right to know that her grand-boss will.

        1. Johnny Tarr*

          Something similar to this happened at my first job. The office hours technically were 8:30-4:30. My immediate supervisor told me that hours were not rigid, and if I rolled in late that would be fine. Then several months later, our grand-boss made a surprise appearance first thing in the morning at one of the satellite offices (I was at another), and was royally peeved that no one was there. My supervisor called a hasty meeting that day and said, “I told you I didn’t care what time you arrived. Well, this happened, and now I care. If grand-boss shows up here at 8:30 tomorrow and you’re not here, I will now be telling him that you know you’re supposed to be here on time.” It was said in a friendly but no-nonsense way, and I thought it was well-handled.

    2. Working Mom Having It All*

      I think in most offices, 8:03 to 5:02 would be fine!

      I think when 8 becomes 9:30, though… that’s a different story.

      1. Risha*

        You keep talking about 8 becoming 9:30 in this comment section, and it’s annoying because it’s completely wrong. She said very clearly above that when she started office hours started at 9, with flexibility, and it’s only with this email that it was changed to a strict 8. So she was flexing half an hour, not the hour and a half you keep harping on!

      2. Michaela*

        I almost get the impression from this comments section, because you’ve never had real flexibility in your jobs, you don’t like the idea of other people having real flexibility in their jobs.

  24. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

    I had a friend end up in a similar situation. His normal working hours were 10-7, with regular overnights and weekends. (He handled data recovery and migration – stuff best done outside normal working hours.) Someone got it into their head that they needed to have an all-hands meeting at 8:30 every day. So my friend’s manager told him he’d need to start working 8-5. My friend pointed out his good work ethic, the length of his commute, and the after hours work he regularly did, but to no avail. So my friend said “Fine. I’ll work 8-5. And that’s all I’ll work. No more overnights, no more weekends.”

    Suddenly, it was no longer quite so important to have an all-hands meeting at 8:30 every day.

    1. SarahKay*

      Oh, I’d forgotten that one – thanks for the reminder. It’s the phrasing that makes me laugh out loud: “elegant eyebrows” and “delicately put the memo back”. Absolutely awesome!

  25. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Two things

    1) I had a situation like that once and did what Alison is suggesting; went to talk with my boss. We were on a 3-person, 24/7 on-call rotation, so for one week out of every three, you got calls at all hours, and during the remaning two weeks you could end up having to cover for the on-call teammate if they could not take the call. We sometimes had to stay late as well. We had flex hours with people normally coming in around 9-9:30. Out of nowhere, my boss sent us an email saying that start time is now 8:30 and not a minute later. I was going through a very hectic time in my family life (husband could not drive due to an emergency hip surgery he’d had the month before, so it was on me to drop one of the kids off at school and the other at a daycare that was 20ish minutes away by car), I explained it to the boss and said I could not make the 8:30 start time and can we agree on a different one? His first words: “I did not know that. (pause) You should not have told me any of this. This is personal.” Next he asked when my husband would be allowed to drive. I said in about two months. Boss then allowed me to have a start time of 8:45, but only until my husband is driving again. (The whole strict-hours policy collapsed a few weeks later, because Boss could not be bothered to stroll into work before 9:30, and so was not there to enforce it, and nobody above him apparently cared what our start times were.)

    While I did not get what I asked for, I learned A LOT about my boss on that day. This is valuable information. OP will get something valuable out of that talk, regardless of its outcome.

    2) If he does not budge on the 8:00, ask him for comp time. Both now and going forward. If he insists that you work 13-hour days, it doesn’t at least have to be 65-hour weeks.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        No, I left 13 years ago. The boss was demoted something like 15 years ago, and was let go 14 years ago. Karma is a wonderful thing.

  26. Letter Writer*

    Hey all! I wrote this letter that night in a rage (even re-reading my letter still irritates me) and it’s been a bit since that was sent.

    Some updates:
    1. I came in at 8 for a couple of days after the email was sent and watched how other people changed their times as well. For the most part people ignored the email, so I adjusted my start time to 8:30 and have left it at that. I’ve also started leaving by 6 at the latest, partially due to the busy period ending but also due to having a life outside of work). Nothing more has been said about start times or work schedules, but it’s good to have a script in case something does come up again!

    2. I had a talk with my boss about the type of work I was doing and reiterated that I was happy to help short term but didn’t want this to be my position. I also talked with him about it during my review (that was glowing). A couple of weeks after that those projects ended/paused, and we haven’t had any new ones with the type of work I hate. For now I’m happy doing work I like and was promised, but we’ll see what happens when another project drops with the hated work. *Side note: had a different catch up chat with him and he asked me if I was doing hated work, and when I said no he somewhat condescendingly said “well aren’t you going to say thank you?” So there’s that*

    3. I have a huge test coming up this fall – legitimately the biggest test of my career for licensing and such – that I’m spending all of my free time studying for. I’m focusing all of my efforts on that, and once I pass it’s likely I’ll look for a new job.

    Thank you for reassuring me I was right to be irritated! Thanks to your blog I was able to address the hated work situation early and get that nipped in the bud. Also apologies if anything doesn’t make complete sense as I’m currently on vacation!

    1. valentine*

      well aren’t you going to say thank you?
      What an infuriating tool. Can you not avoid the hated work altogether? If you’re the Highlander, you can frame it as wanting others to learn new skills.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Hello LW! That’s mostly encouraging — thanks for the update.
      Do you think you’ll be able to ask your boss about company policy for arriving late the morning after a late night? I’m just wondering if it’ll become relevant again if/when the workload spikes the next time.

      1. Letter Writer*

        I definitely will! We went through a restructure where that boss is now my current boss’ boss – not really a promotion or demotion just reorganizing the structure of our group, and if it happens again I’ll be sure to bring it up with my current boss’ immediately using Alison’s script.

    3. LCL*

      I’m glad it worked out for you. What you did was a variation of what I was going to suggest. If there was ever a time to work to rule, that was it. Boss reminds you the hours are 8 to 5? Shrug. Work 8 to 5. It’s wouldn’t have been childish.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        “Work to rule” is what I’d call it too, and it’s exactly what I did – first exempt job at a tiny software company run by a morning person who was used to running office supply warehouses (he’d discovered that, if you wanted to sell a 5 cent pencil you had to buy a 4 cent pencil first, but to sell $10K worth of warehouse software all you had to buy was a $10 floppy. I am only slightly exaggerating – and not about the prices.)

        He’d wander around the place in the morning, when most engineers are still not at full speed. Then in the afternoons when he was at half speed, he stayed in his office and didn’t notice what we were doing or how long we stayed late to hit good stopping points. It wasn’t that he needed anything from us at 8:30 – he wouldn’t know code if it bit him, and software deadlines work on longer scales than warehouses.

        All was fine for months, then randomly he decided he wanted us in at 8:30. Fine. I’m leaving precisely at 5:30, then. Lunch is 1 hour? OK, no more taking 10 minutes in the breakroom, I’m going to leave for the full hour.

        And, of course, job hunting.

  27. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Clock watchers are the worst. Sounds like your manager needs to grow a pair because it seems to be that someone questioned everyone’s start times. Whether it was someone above them or another subordinate, instead of sending an email, he should have let the complainer know that you put in extra hours and often stay late. This is certainly a hill I would die on, but you have to make sure that’s what’s best for you. I wouldn’t want to work for a place that tricked me into a different job, then continued to pile on more work AND on top of that is bitching about my start time when I’m putting in an extra 10-20 hours per week. Unless you’re in a position where you need to be at your desk by a certain time in order to help customers, or you’re missing important meetings, there is really no reason for them to be sticklers about start time.

  28. Peaches*

    This infuriates me.

    My first job out of college (classic Toxic Workplace), I was told I would be working 40 hours/week, and that I would have flexible start/end time. I was immediately thrown to the wolves, had zero training, and had to work 60+ hours a week to keep up with the workload.

    I was getting to the office at 6:00 A.M. every day to stay on top of my work. I took public transportation (bus) to work every day, and the last bus in the evening left at 7:15 P.M., which is the bus I regularly took home (note: I don’t live in an area where public transport is common, like it is in NYC). After about a month at my job, I got a “talking to” from my manager (who by the way, worked across the country – I never met her in person) for “leaving so early every day.” Her literal words were, “I just can’t believe as a new employee that you would be bold enough leave that early. I’m a MANAGER here and I would never even consider ASKING to leave that early.”

    It still angers me thinking about it. I was working CONSTANTLY, getting no support or training from my manager or anyone else, and she decided to chastise me for leaving “early”.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Were you in a different timezone from your manager? I had someone say I was leaving early and I replied “I’m on the East Coast, you’re in California.” and he said so? I converted the time zones for him and told him what time I’d gotten into the office in HIS time zone. And he shut up. But he’s got a slight pass — he had just been transferred two time zones to the west and he’d never met me to really internalize that I was 3 hours ahead of him. Your MANAGER should darned well know your time zone difference.

      1. Peaches*

        Yes, I was an hour ahead of her. However, the majority of our team though was actually an hour ahead of me (two hours ahead of my manager), so my hours were pretty in line with the rest of the team. She was well aware of the time difference. In fact, she was so aware that she told me on my first day that I should always speak in terms of EST (even though neither of us were in EST), because the majority of our team was in EST.

        About a month after I started, she wanted to have a quick phone meeting with me about a project I was working on at 12:30 P.M. (another issue – she refused to use Outlook to schedule meetings). 12:30 EST roles around, and she hasn’t called. I send her a message on our chat system asking if we were still on for 12:30. Crickets. An hour and a half later, I still hadn’t heard from her, so I tried her office phone and got no answer. Finally, at 2:30 EST, she gives me a call and berates me for “freaking out” that I couldn’t get ahold of her. I guess her idea of freaking out was me trying to contact her twice, via chat and via phone (I didn’t even leave a message on her phone, and nothing in the language of my chat indicated concern.) Anyway, she said that she was at a doctor’s appointment, and had intended for us to chat at 12:30 PM her time (mountain time). No apology for the confusion. I was young and naive, and at the time let her berate me, rather than bringing up the fact that she’d specifically told me we were only to refer to time in terms of EST.

        Quite frankly, she was just a bully – I don’t think I or any of her subordinates could have done anything to please her.

    2. tangerineRose*

      On your behalf, I want to go back in time and say to your manager “I work 6:oo am – 7:15 pm (insert time zone here); how is this not enough?”

      1. Peaches*

        I wish I could go back in time and say that, too! I was 21 years old and very naive. I thought it was okay to be berated, bullied and embarrassed by my manager at work. It really wrecked by perception of a normal workplace for a long time. Thankfully, I work at a much better place now!

        (I do have a kooky manager, but she does appreciate my work and allows some work life balance!)

    3. Tech Writer*

      I had a similar story. I had just graduated and connected with an alumni from my school, who helped me get a job at her workplace.
      I was leaving my house at 6AM and getting to the office around 8AM, since I took public transportation (bus and rail), and then walked about a block to the office building. The building shared space with a bunch of other companies, so parking was limited and public transportation was encouraged. I lived in one state and worked in another, and by the time I left the office (5PM), it would have been around 7PM when I got to the bus stop. Where I am, if it’s past rush hours the bus I usually take runs every 45 minutes, instead of every 30 minutes.
      Around Halloween, I tripped over my cat, slipped down the stairs, and twisted my ankle so badly I couldn’t walk for weeks. My manager (at the time) told me I could only telework 2-3 days and then I needed to be in the office, because “it would look bad on us if you weren’t in the office”. At this point, I’m constantly in meetings, with the company not reimbursing me to get to them, continuing/finishing my work when I get home, and the person who was supposed to train me was more interested in talking to everyone on the floor and having me do admin duties and take meeting minutes.
      Similar to you, I was working constantly without any support or training. It also didn’t help that my manager(s) were more supportive of outside activities than actually training me to do this job. After a few months there, I finally left.

  29. LeisureSuitLarry*

    I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been on the receiving end of an email like this. Whether it was “coming in on time” or “spending time on the internet” or whatever. In nearly every case I’ve been at the same emotional state as OP: rather pissed off and avoiding the boss or in some cases his admin (when s/he sent it out). And in nearly every circumstance after I’ve talked to them about it I find out out that it’s “someone else on the team” abusing whatever the subject is about.

      1. Devil Fish*

        And the even worse part is that there’s a 50/50 chance the manager who sends these sorts of emails tells everyone who asks that the culprit is “someone else on the team” because they’re too spineless to address it with a serious conversation.

    1. Peter the Bubblehead*

      Similar situation. During shore duty while I was in the Navy, I was assigned to an office position planning and scheduling overhaul work for the boats on the waterfront. I was one of four people in that office developing a brand new scheduling system. I was also the only submariner assigned to the shop – everyone else working in the shop were surface sailors working at a submarine support facility (and more than a few of them were annoyed by this).

      Somehow one of my superiors got it in their head that I was on the internet too often, so they had the IT division come in and literally disable internet service on my computer one day. The ironic part was of the four of us in the office, I was literally the only one NOT surfing the web when the IT guys walked in. The moronic part was that, without internet, I couldn’t do my assigned job. But punishing the bubblehead for being a bubblehead was more important to the skimmers than getting the work done.

  30. I'm Not Phyllis*

    Ugh – so frustrating! I had this situation at my old job once … I was in the office until after 11 pm (my boss went home at 6, mind you) to finish Very Important Project but she was still mad that my butt wasn’t in my chair at 9 am the next morning. Never mind that I was in the office and simply had the gall to make myself a cup of tea before starting. (Ha – apparently I’m still mad about that!)

    Alison’s advice is great – talk to your manager and figure this out. If your boss wants you there at 8, then at least you’ll know and you can decide whether that means you want to stop working longer into the evening. Personally, though, I’m with Alison – are you sure you want to stay there? It sounds so much like this isn’t at all what you signed up for/hoped it would be.

  31. AR*

    My first office job did this to mee too, I used to work 12 hrs a day without pay (I was young 18 years old, didn’t know better). One day I was called in by the HR person to tell me that I’ve been taking 2-5 minutes extra lunch. I was so mad that they seemed to overlook the fact that I was working for free 10 hrs a week, but how dare I took 5 minutes extra for lunch!! I left after 3 months.

  32. Essess*

    I tend to go for malicious compliance. I would respond to that email and ask what the boss’s preference was as to where in my schedule I should cut my hours to make up for the extra 10-20 hours I was working each week if he didn’t want me to cut at the beginning of the day. Would he prefer I leave early, take an extra couple hours for lunch, or should I just take a day off each week to compensate?

  33. it's all good*

    Ridiculous. I worked at a place where you had to use your badge to get into the building so they could log attendance. If you were late 3 times of a minute or more you got suspended 1 day without pay. The department was on mandatory overtime ( 6 am – 6 pm) for 1.5 years. Everyone was so burned out, I think some were late just to get a day off.

  34. AnotherAlison*

    Without having the context that the OP’s start time does impact her coworkers, I guess I agree with the complaint and the advice.

    However, from the other side of the desk, this schedule frustrates me. I’m PM for a project whose client and another key partner are one time zone earlier, and some of my staff is one time zone later than me. I have a lot of days that are booked solid with meetings, and it’s very difficult to work around people who are starting 2.5 hrs after I get in, or 3.5 hrs after our client starts their day. I don’t have issues with people being late for the one-off super-late night before type thing, but a regular schedule that is much later than the official start should not just be assumed to be fine.

    I’m currently working 7-5:30 with an hour or two of WFH afterwards right now, so I understand the OP’s frustrations, but unless there are commute or personal issues, why not just work start at 8 and leave 1.5 hrs earlier? It’s the same hours worked.

    At the end of the day, the main thing is the boss should communicate directly, and OP should meet their requirements, but a very flexed schedule can legitimately be frustrating.

    1. Jesse*

      “it’s very difficult to work around people who are starting 2.5 hrs after I get in, or 3.5 hrs after our client starts their day.”

      I deal with this frequently. Although I appreciate flexible schedules, I think it’s unrealistic when people act like late starts are no big deal. They can impact other people’s workloads in ways you often don’t realize because we often don’t consider other people’s workloads. These conversations are important.

      1. pandop*

        My team is made up of a mixture of full and part-timers with a good 2 hour range of start times, and sometimes a range of 6 hours in finish times.
        We manage, we even have meetings and everything.

    2. fposte*

      Because it’s an easier commute, or it maps better onto her energy levels or gym schedule or whatever. I imagine if it really made no difference to her the OP wouldn’t be working that schedule in the first place.

      If the employer needed her there in the morning for a specific reason, she should be told that. But obviously in this case the employer would have to decide if having somebody in at 8 was important enough to risk losing the OP over. And maybe it is–maybe they’d rather have somebody in at 8 working 40 hours, and maybe that would be true for your office because of the time zone issue. But if they’re not, they need to factor that into their decision.

    3. Risha*

      So some of your staff are starting at (7+2.5-1) 8:30am, and you find that frustrating? I’m sorry, unless you work for one of the incredibly small number of companies that have an official start time before 8, that’s completely unreasonable. Your meeting schedule is a piss-poor reason to impose on someone who prefers to (or needs to for family or commuting reasons) start at a normal time.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I agree, sometimes it would be easier for one person if everybody else in the company would do X or Y, but unless the supervisor feels like that’s the biggest priority, we all have to live with the pitfalls of existing within a collaboration. I bet the supervisors know the team would start job searching if it was announced they needed to be in their seats at 7:30 AM every morning because it made it easier to schedule meetings.

        1. Antilles*

          I agree, sometimes it would be easier for one person if everybody else in the company would do X or Y, but unless the supervisor feels like that’s the biggest priority, we all have to live with the pitfalls of existing within a collaboration.
          True, but it applies the other way too – if there’s really only one staffer who’s 2.5 hours behind the rest of the team (due to a combination of timezones and personal preference), at times the answer will be “look, the client has proposed a conference call tomorrow morning and the entire rest of the team is available at 9 AM EST; I know that’s 8 AM your time and well before you normally get in, but every other time slot has multiple conflicts; we need you to make this work.”

        2. Essess*

          I have come in to work and discovered that at 5:30am on a Monday morning someone scheduled me into a 7:30am meeting. (I can see what time a meeting was added to my calendar). I check my calendar before I go to bed each night to see if I need to go in earlier than my normal 8:15, but it is rude to schedule an abnormally early meeting without warning.

          1. nonegiven*

            My son got a 9 am interview email after 6pm. His schedule was 10-6, so he didn’t get the email until an hour after it was scheduled.

      2. Antilles*

        I read the “2.5 hours later” as after accounting for time zones – not that you magically get an hour back, but that AA is EST, so the other coworker starts at 8:30 CST, which is actually 9:30 EST (while AA has been crushing it since 7:00 EST). And the key partner is in Newfoundland and starting their day at 7:00 local (6:00 EST).
        Which can absolutely be a legitimate issue. Time zones are what they are, but you’ve effectively lost almost half the day where you can’t have that staffer attend conference calls with the client or address urgent last-minute requests or whatever. And it gets even more troublesome if there have to be meetings with the client that involve that staffer – once you account for lunch (which also doesn’t overlap), you’ve probably reduced the available time slots to 3 hours or less…before you’ve even accounted for one single work-related item like other meetings, client availability, etc.
        It’s certainly understandable why it’s frustrating.

      3. AnotherAlison*

        It’s not “my” meeting schedule. It’s the project meeting schedule. Eh. There are a lot of business-related factors not worth getting into here, and I have not called back anyone’s flex schedule and made them show up at 6 am local time to accommodate my start time. I do my part to be accommodating and the people working with me do, too. Sometimes we push a call back, sometimes they call from home before work, and sometimes we can make do with other people filling in for them.

        My point was that there are business related reasons this doesn’t always work. A lot of the comments seem to act like no one ever needs to be at a meeting, work closely with peers, or be in a seat unless they are the receptionist.

        1. Koala dreams*

          I think people are adding reasons that changing the schedule a couple of hours would cause problems. If you just changed your schedule a couple of hours to get more time with the staff in a later timezone, you get less time for the people in the earlier timezone. Other people have other reasons. No need to argue about who has the best reasons.

        2. TootsNYC*

          It’s not “my” meeting schedule. It’s the project meeting schedule.

          I remember once working on a publication, and someone in a production meeting said, “Stacey’s deadlines.” Stacey, the managing editor, said, “They’re not MY deadlines. They’re OUR deadlines.”

          Like, for real. This isn’t some personal imposition–it’s the way the job is working out.

          Sure, some managers can be petty and demand things that aren’t appropriate (I remember working with someone who called for meetings at 7pm).

          1. Not a cat*

            Oh me too. My CEO said she scheduled meetings at 7PM because she wanted to meet on “your time” not “my time” (my time =minimum 10 hours with lunch at my desk.)

    4. Koala dreams*

      I think that if the problem in the OP would have been that the OP has a difficult time working around people with a different schedule, the answer would have been another. For example scheduling a couple of days every week working a schedule that fits the coworkers’ schedule. I do agree with you that it can be difficult to work a schedule outside of normal office hours, but just as you have your reasons to prefer your unusually early start-time, the OP has her reasons to prefer her unusually late start-time. I’m sorry you find your schedule frustrating, and hope things get better for you!

  35. BigRedGum*

    the work hill that i will die on is that i will not work outside my 40 hours from 8 – 5. no. i have figured out how to get all my work done in my 40 hours, and there is no way i’ll even think about work outside of 8 – 5.

    but! it sounds like your work does require more than 40, but who are you to argue with company policy. show up at your time and leave at 5. i wouldn’t be bothered to stay past 5 if those are the rules.

  36. Akcipitrokulo*

    ” decide if what has happened at work is going to be my hill to die on (or resign on).”

    YMMV … but for me personally? Yes.

    I wouldn’t necessarily quit straight away – but that would be the point I’d start looking, and would be very surprised if I were still there 3 months later.

    And I would also not worry about the “ehy are you leaving” question… “unfortunately the business needs changed, and although I have enjoyed learning about grooming, I was hired to do training, and I’m keen to get back to my chosen field.”

    But yeah. For me, that would be a time to move on issue.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Yep, if I determined that the email was in fact aimed at me, or that my boss didn’t consider people who are working long hours an exception, I would absolutely start job searching over this. OP sounds vital in her role, probably in demand. To me it’s about the company’s attitude. I want to work for a company that understands that flexibility is the best reward for me (and money is #2 – with everything else, like “verbal affirmation” or “gifts” is waaaaay down the list, while still above “this is the minimum we pay you for, what are you whining about”).

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Even if not aimed at me – or they backtracked – this isn’t my long term place to be.

  37. ThatGirl*

    There were plenty of things to frustrate me about the last company I worked at, but I will say, in retrospect I am truly grateful for their general attitude toward work hours and flexibility. You could basically start any time between 6 and 10 a.m. and leave any time from 2 to 7, as long as you were putting in an approximate 40 hours and the work was getting done. We also had good remote work/work from home policies.

    My newer company has plenty of other good things, but considerably less flexibility of hours and work location.

    1. Goose Lavel*

      I’d love this type of job and would start at 6 and leave at 2.
      I guess not taking a lunch and eating while working is ok?

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, it was fine – I mostly ate at my desk so I could leave earlier and avoid commuting woes, but some people worked later and took a longer mid-day break. One of my team’s managers worked 6-2:30, the other worked 8 to 4. You could also make up time in the evening if you needed to leave early for an appointment or something.

  38. Temperance*

    A situation very similar to this, where my husband had worked until 1:30 a.m. in the office to get a deliverable out the door, and was then reprimanded by his douchebag boss for coming in at 9:30 a.m. the next day, was a large part of the reason he left his prior org. His boss was known for leaving at 5:05 p.m. on the dot, every day, while bullying the team into doing whatever was required.

  39. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

    Sounds like a guy I worked for. Hourly employees (or those with children) came in late daily despite needing to answer the phones at opening time and left on time on the dot. Salaried employees were expected to work a minimum of 50 hours a week and I often stayed 1-3 hours after my work was done until my boss was done with his power play and was willing to discuss whatever he kept me there for. I left 10 minutes early one day and apparently he had a meltdown despite two of my colleagues on the same level doing it the week before. He would also call us at 8:30 pm at home to discuss work stuff that wasn’t urgent.
    It was a symptom of all kinds of micromanaging, gas lighting and manipulation. An assistant finally pointed out the gas lighting to me after I got reamed over the phone for something he had agreed to that morning and I knew I had to get out ASAP.
    It’s been a year and I’m still recovering. Alison is right about how toxic environments change workplace norms for you long after you’re gone.

  40. Erin*

    Yeahhhhh I’d start working 8am to 5pm, not coming in a minute early or staying a minute late.

  41. Delta Delta*

    Generally, I’m annoyed with clock watching. If Sue does her best work early in the morning and Dave does his best work in the afternoon, as long as it’s getting done, then do it that way. BUT, if someone structures their time such that a) you don’t know where they are and when they’re coming to work or b) it interferes with others, that’s not okay.

    I worked at a place where the start time was 8 but was flexible. That meant people trickled in between 7:45 and 8:15 and everything hummed along. Except one person who frequently sauntered in at 10. Nobody ever knew where she was, and if someone asked, she would say she was working from home (when she was actually walking her dog and going out for breakfast – this was by her own admission to a coworker privately). It was garbage for morale because the rest of the team.

  42. Amethystmoon*

    My guess is that someone with too much time on their hands is documenting when everyone comes and goes, and complained. It’s happened where I worked. It’s one thing if people are hourly but if they’re putting in their time and not lying on the time sheets, who cares? If people are salaried, the only thing that should matter is the work gets done on time.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Isn’t it amazing how companies still want to track the salary-exempt people?
      And I’m not talking about roles that really do need to be there at a certain time.

  43. MissDisplaced*

    When managers want to treat employees like children, they often garner childish behavior.
    Now, I’m not certain the email was meant FOR you personally. It could be there are others in the office who are coming in late (not you because you worked late). You can certainly clarify that. “Hey boss, I wanted to ask about the office hours memo. As I’ve been working late, I’ve been coming in a bit later than the designated 8am start time and wanted to make sure that flexibility is ok with you.”

    But if the 8am start time is mandatory no matter what or how late you worked the day before… then I’m right with you about not staying past 5pm. Because, hey, this is the thanks you get for busting ass? How demoralizing. And you probably don’t get paid overtime either.

    1. TootsNYC*

      well, if you’re starting at 8, theoretically you shouldn’t need to stay late. That work that you’d do in the 1.5 hours you stay late can wait until you get in at 8am.

      And you might be surprised how much crisper you work if you start earlier and if you KNOW you won’t be able to work later.

      Don’t ask me to admit how I know this, but I do.

      1. RS*

        Just because you personally are less productive when working late does not mean everyone is less productive when working late. What do you gain by assuming that everyone’s work behaviors are identical to your own?

        1. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

          Same here. I never get anything accomplished before 11 am. Even if I start at 7 am.

          People who assume that “everyone is really a morning person if they just try it for a while” drive me right around the bend. If I’m on vacation? My natural schedule shifts within three days to stay up until 4 am and sleep until noon.

          To work 8 to 5 where I live means long commutes, so I’d have to get up at 5:30 to leave for work at 6:30. I’m often unsafe on the road at that time unless I take medication to make me sleep earlier. Yes, I even worked 7 am to 4 pm for a few years. I now suffer insomnia because of it, because it screwed up my sleep cycle so badly.

          It’s a big messy deal for me to work normal office hours for even a week. I end up exhausted and sick by the time its over. I do it for training classes and coinferences, but I pay a price for it.

      2. OhNo*

        They might not have control of when the work comes in. If something needs to be done before midnight but doesn’t get on the OP’s desk until 4:59, having arrived at 8 that morning wouldn’t do them any good.

        Speaking as someone who is responsible for responding to clients and putting out fires, this happens to me a lot. The only upside to these last minute, stay-late-to-fix-it requests is knowing that I can come in late the next day.

  44. ragazza*

    Ugh. At my dysfunctional office I came in at 9:30 for years and never left before 5:30 or 6, ate lunch at my desk, etc. This was mostly because I had an hour commute and coming in later shortened it enough so that I didn’t feel like killing myself every day. I’m also in a creative role and don’t need to be in a lot of meetings/available for clients or other coworkers for the most part, so it seemed fair. However, it’s a very “butts in seats” organization, despite the fact that a lot of those butts spend a lot of time shopping on the interwebs or whatever.

    All this to say–start times shouldn’t matter that much (within reason) if you’re getting your work done and don’t need to be there at a certain time to deal with customers, etc. I can’t believe it is the Year of Our Lord 2019 and people still get mad that employees come in five minutes or even a half hour “late.”

  45. Don’t shoot the manager*

    This is going to be coming a bit from the other side. I think you also have to be realistic with yourself and make sure that all the extra time you’re putting in is truly required. I’m a manager at a job where the culture is very much “your butt needs to be in your seat when the shift starts”. I recently had an employee who was showing up significantly late fairly frequently. I had to talk to her about it and her response was that it shouldn’t matter because she frequently worked late and fielded calls over dinner and the weekends.

    I have never asked her to do that. In fact I have specifically indicated to my staff that that is not a part of their job and that they should give out their personal numbers with great discretion because some people won’t respect their hours if they have access to them all the time.

    If the OT is expected and you’re getting nickel and dimed that’s not fair, but if you’re putting in hours you aren’t expected to and then complaining when your boss tries to enforce a start tome that’s not really fair either.

  46. New ED*

    I once worked insane hours over a holiday weekend when I was a big law firm junior associate. I basically worked close to 40 hours over a 3 day weekend. Tuesday morning the senior partner started yelling at me about the stuff I hadn’t gotten done over the weekend. I quit right then and there and never spent another day in the private sector. My current non-profit is incredibly flexible on scheduling (core hours are 10-4 and as long as you are working core hours you can do the other 10 hours per week whenever works best for you) and we allow comp time to be earned when people end up working extra hours. The impact of reasonable hours and flexible scheduling on quality of life is enormous!

    1. Peaches*

      Wow! Glad you are in a much better position now. Flexible scheduling absolutely increases quality of life.

  47. Bird*

    What can someone actually do if they’re not in a place to leave when a business decides to drastically increase their responsibilities and workload without any extra compensation?

    1. Working Mom Having It All*

      If you’re non-exempt, you HAVE TO BE compensated for overtime.

      If the role is exempt, this is basically what you’re signing up for when you take the job. (Also, it just makes good business sense when you get a job offer in an exempt role to think about how that pay rate will feel when you’re in crunch time. Will you still feel well compensated when you’re getting this amount for 50 hours a week of work?)

  48. SAHM*

    Maybe it’s just because I finally got caught up on Patriot Act, but LW, are you in game development?

  49. agnes*

    wow, that letter sure sounds like where I used to work. LW, take Alison’s advice and do it now.

  50. TootsNYC*

    I feel like I’m going to be the only one who says this: Sometimes you need to be there because other people need you. And you won’t always know when that is.

    Also, I personally find that if people come in a little late, they mentally decide to stay late, but then they aren’t quite as efficient as they could be.

    To be clear: I don’t like to nickel and dime people, and I actually do come in late most days. But I see the effect it has.

    There’s also the “everyone in the office, all busy working” vibe that can increase people’s productivity; even something like all the lights being off as you walk in can make people feel less productive.

    I wouldn’t handle it the way the boss in the letter does, but there are legit reasons to want people to not start 1.5 hours late. or even 45 minutes late on the regular.

    (I always say that if I start my own company, TootsNYC Inc., I’m going to hire someone to come to the office 30 minutes before start time and turn on all the lights, fire up and resupply all the copiers, and start the coffee. Some mom at-home mom who can do this after dropping her kids at school, or something.)

    1. Adminx2*

      Or…any other awesome person who would enjoy starting a day at a quiet pace getting things prepped? The main reason I get to my job early is EXACTLY so I can ease in and check in before everyone else has to get to their things and make any updates needed.

      *cranky at SAHM preferential bias*

  51. I coulda been a lawyer*

    When I was non-exempt a coworker complained so much that I arrived 2 or 3 minutes late each morning (without mentioning that she left 10 minutes early each day) that the company put in time clocks AND posted everyone’s “hours worked last pay period” in the break room. I was told to continue doing what I was doing, and started getting paid for 10 to 15 hours of overtime each week, while she was getting docked for a few hours. It was pretty amazing how quickly she lost her voice and the best part was that I really needed the money – and they kept paying the OT. People need to look at bigger pictures than butts in seats.

  52. Coder von Frankenstein*

    “My position has turned out to be different than what I was told it would be, which I’m not happy about, but I’ve talked to my boss and he’s agreed that this is short-term and will change. … Recently we’ve had a ton of projects hit at the same time, and it turns out the short-term expertise I’ve gained is crucial to all of them, so I’ve been working 50-60 hour weeks for over two months now with no end in sight.”

    So, if I understand this correctly:

    1) You signed up to do a job you were excited about.
    2) Then they bait-and-switched you, and you found yourself doing a job you did not want.
    3) When you complained, they told you you would soon get the job they promised you.
    4) Then they pushed you into working massive overtime for 2 months.
    5) 2 months later, you are still doing the job you did not want and working massive overtime.

    You are reacting intensely to the e-mail about start times, not because the e-mail itself is all that bad (it’s obnoxious but no more than that), but because the company has been treating you like crap this whole time and you’re quite reasonably fed up. I would start looking for another job.

  53. Lars*

    i loved my flexible schedule at former-former job– I could come in ~30 minutes late every day w/o having to warn management and since my position required absolutely no client contact, no collaboration, and department meetings only once a month, it didn’t affect the team. when our department decided that everybody needed to arrive in shifts from 7a-9a and i lost my 30 minute window was when i started looking for new employment seriously. at least i gave notice rather than one of my coworkers.

  54. Jonno*

    I once was written up (formal write-up) for being two SECONDS late. Yes. Two seconds.

    It was a call center job, which are weird places where work norms break down and high turnover is normal.

    We had slow computers and a ridiculous log in process. We had a time clock to punch on the wall, a code to get in the building, then the turning on and logging in of the computer and about 15 systems to login to.

    My start time was 4 pm, and I had gotten in on time. Right at four I started taking calls.

    About 5:30 (my shift ended at 9) I was called in by a manager. He looked really remorseful and sheepish, and he said “when did you come in today”? I told him, “oh, I came in at about 3:45 or so. I took calls right at 4.” He grimaced, and said, “yeah. I show that. However we show you started taking calls right at 4:00:02.” He pulled a paper, a slip saying “TARDY”, and it literally had “representative not ready at work station from _____ to _____” And so this first blank had 4:00:00pm, and the second blank had 4:00:02pm. LITERALLY TWO SECONDS!!!

    I had to sign it. I was 18 and it was a part time job while I was in college. I had been working there a month. I called out the next three days and then never went back.

  55. Elle Kay*

    My boss (the main reason why I start a new job on Tuesday!!!) is *obssessed* with the idea of getting a time clock. I’ve been able to talk him off this ledge at least 3 or 4 times in 3 years but he’s sure it will help with “accountability”.

    I’ve tried to point out that our non-exempt; hourly workers who currently are here for hours after 5pm and on the weekends (including myself) will STOP doing that if they’re clocking in & out. Since he doesn’t have the salary funds to pay for overtime work they/we’d have to.

    Despite his conviction that it will help make sure things get done; overall it will mean *fewer* things get done & I just can’t get him to understand it!
    So, yes, all my sympathy in this case.

  56. lnelson in Tysons*

    Unless it is a job that truly requires the employee to have their butt at their desk at 8am, if you preach a flexible schedule, don’t nickle and dime. The bosses can require that certain offices always have coverage.

    But bosses should also be reasonable. If an employee regularly stays late, don’t berate them for showing up 5 minutes late due to traffic issues.

    As we are sharing nightmare bosses: Not my boss, but as HR I heard about this. Manager decided that he didn’t want his direct report to work from home any more and be in the office at a certain time. On the surface, reasonable. HOWEVER, this manager took the idea of a flexible schedule for himself to heart, came and went as he pleased. Worked from home, etc. Now on top of the “do as I say, not as I do” this manager would also schedule early morning calls in order to include people from the European office. So boss insisted on a 7am or 7:30am conference call. His reportee should be in the office by 8am. The traffic in our area is miserable to say the least. One way commute for this guy was 1 – 1.5 hours depending how traffic/how many accidents, etc. So the guy either had to be out of his house and on the road no later than 5:30 am to be sure to be in the office by 7am. If he took the call while in the car, he got into trouble, if he stayed at home to take the call at home to make sure he didn’t miss the call, he got into trouble. (Of course the boss was allowed to take the conference call at home) On top of that the boss expected (and told his reportee so) that he expected his reportee to stay just as late in evenings as the boss did. So if the boss sauntered in at 11am and decided to stat until 7 or 8 in the evening, his reportee was expected to stay as well.
    This poor guy was relieved to be laid off six months later.

  57. Anna*

    Ugh I worked at a company once where HR told me how they noticed me coming in a few minutes late regularly (yes, a few minutes! Like 8:02, 8:05 and so on). And how I needed to be on time. It wasn’t for me. From what I can tell about this poster, it’s one of those things that is the straw that broke the camels back.

  58. JM*

    Alison’s advice is spot-on. I have the wimpy boss she described with the email being sent to everyone instead of to the person who he meant who was actually abusing doing 8 hours of work, and then always wanting OT for 15 minutes past time when they have arrived an hour late (with the time management system, you can use PTO time if you are late). You need to have a conversation with your boss. My boss told me he did not mean me but the higher ups were aware of people in our dept coming in late. He had same conversation with several of us, separately because we complained separately. I have not seen that email in more than a year. And yes, person it was directed at is still coming in late.

    I would strongly worry about the switch and bait for your job. But if you are content with what you are doing, then continue and just ignore the be on time email.

  59. AnonPi*

    Try getting in trouble for coming in 10-30 minutes *early* to start work. I was the first one in our office, most everyone started a half hour to hour later, and we deal with visitor’s daily coming through. At the time I had asked our manager if it was ok if I got an early start to just come in early to start work and then leave early. Got the ok because we often had visitors here waiting by then needing assistance. After that manager left, our interim manager decided to complain to the grandboss about us not maintaining set schedules (even though interim manager gave her ok for me to come in early too for the same reason). Which resulted in me getting pulled into the grandboss’s office with printouts of my weekly timesheets for the last however many months and reprimanded for daring to start work 10-15 minutes early most days and leaving 10-15 minutes early. Even though I told her that I had asked and was given permission, I should have known this was unacceptable. Cause after all, if I had left 10 minutes early and someone came in looking for help what in the world would we do – apparently it didn’t matter the other 3 assistants who stayed a half hour to hour later than me would be there to assist said imaginary person. Still gets my goat. Unfortunately though I’ve been looking I haven’t found anything else yet – on top of this there’s plenty of other *stuff* going around to make me want to leave.

  60. NotTheSameAaron*

    I worked at a job once I loved, so I would clock in early and leave late. After a few weeks, my boss told me that my working outside of normal hours was messing up the paperwork, and that I had to clock in and out at the required times, weather or not I was still there.

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