should I stop using my office’s flex hours since my coworkers have earlier schedules?

A reader writes:

My organization has a very generous flexible time policy. Our office’s “core hours” are 10 am – 3 pm, and all employees must be working during this time. We’re told to arrange our eight-hour days around those hours however we like.

I’m not a “morning person” by habit, and I typically come in at 9:30-9:45 when I don’t have morning meetings or important tasks that need to begin early in the day. I stay until 6-6:30 pm on an average day, and my work regularly necessitates staying later for big projects. I am salaried/exempt and have occasional weekend and evening tasks. Most of the team arrives between 8 and 9 am, and there are a few that arrive at 7 am. We always have a receptionist at the front desk when our office is open to the public.

I am one of our youngest employees, but due to turnover and staff growth, I have been here longer than 75% of our team, and I am in a relatively senior-level position. My supervisor expresses that he is generally very happy with my work.

I understand that coming in late in the morning might reinforce negative stereotypes about young people in the workforce. I sense that some of my coworkers (whom I “outrank” but do not manage) have a bit of resentment toward my work schedule. They are of course allowed to do the same, but due to their other life obligations (families, a second job, etc.), it’s not realistic. On one hand, it frustrates me that employees who benefit from being allowed to leave early are the ones who stigmatize people coming in late. At the same time, I understand that my hours might complicate teamwork and make early-arrivers wait on me to answer questions. I also worry about the optics of vendors or partners calling the office for me after 9 am and being told “he’s not in yet.”

Should I work harder at changing my habits for the sake of my perception and professional reputation? Or, given that I’m in line with our policy and doesn’t seem to negatively affect my performance, do I stand my ground?

It’s incredibly irritating that people who work a schedule like yours in an office that explicitly allows it are sometimes seen as lazy or “getting away with something” when people who do the same thing in the other direction (arrive early/leave early) are not. It’s undoubtedly linked to our puritan roots, where getting up early is a virtue and sleeping past sunrise is an indulgence of the debauched.

I look forward to the days when sleeping in will be seen as admirable self-care and a virtue. I consider it that right now.

Anyway. I do not see any reason you should change your schedule. Your office asks you to be in by 10 am, and you are. Your office tells you to arrange your schedule around its core hours any way you’d like, and you do. You’re in a relatively senior position, and your manager is happy with your work. There’s nothing here that indicates you should change what you’re doing.

It’s true that early arrivers might have to wait to ask you questions. That is part of what having core hours means. In fact, the whole reason for core hours is to have a set time when everyone will be available to facilitate communication, and you are abiding by that. They’ll need to accept that that’s how your office works … just like you need to accept that you can’t ask them questions at 4 pm if they left at 3. That’s how core hours work. You aren’t doing anything wrong by utilizing your office’s system, just like your coworkers who work 7-3 aren’t.

If you want to, you could run this by your manager and make sure she agrees, but I don’t see any reason to. If your manager herself had been bristling or hinting that she didn’t like your schedule, it might make sense to raise it with her … but that doesn’t sound like it’s the case. If the people showing resentment with your schedule were senior to you and had the power to affect your career trajectory, that’s something you’d want to factor in (because, fairly or not, on some teams and in some roles there are consequences if you take advantage of a benefit you’re supposedly entitled to) … but that doesn’t sound like it’s the case for you either.

You’re following your office’s policy and your manager is happy with your work. If other people with no power over you feel a little grumbly about that and can’t point to any actual work problems it’s causing, that’s something they’ll need to deal with on their own. Carry on.

And for that matter, carry on with pride. You are arranging your job and your life in ways that work well for you, and that’s a victory. By doing that, you are modeling healthy habits for less senior people in your workplace who might have the same worries as you but less capital. These are all good things and you should feel good about them, not worried that you are some sort of indolent libertine.

Also! I always think that when you’ve attained a certain professional level and respect, there’s real merit in letting your own behavior be a form of advocacy for Things That Are Different From The Traditional. When you have the capital, it’s a social good to spend some of it challenging people’s norms — whether it’s openly talking about needing time to pump, or taking mental health days, or having blue hair, or working your kind of hours, or all sorts of other things that people with less capital might not be equipped to push their workplaces to accept but you are. You have to be careful that it doesn’t become a thing where action X is okay for you and no one else because of your positional power, but if you do it the right way, you can exert an influence that makes things better for everyone.

{ 291 comments… read them below }

  1. Hills to Die on*

    I would be making sure that people see you responding to emails late as well. Because optics can go both ways.

    1. Camellia*

      Yes, came here to say this. Our office offers the same flexibility. I’m a 7 to 4 person and will make sure I’m seen answering emails that early. That way, when someone wants to schedule a meeting for 5:00 PM, I can politely refuse and, if necessary, “joke” about reciprocating with a meeting at 7:00 AM to make my point.

      1. MissLozzieM*

        I am similar, i work for a national orgnaisation with various state based offices and the culture differences are marked. In my office most of us are in between 7-8am and then leave between 3-4pm. Head office is more traditionally 9 -5pm.

        I work on national projects and have my working hours in my calendar and mention them in meetings & emails regularly when discussing meetings & time line etc. When necessary I will always stay back (or come in earlier) But sure enough most days after i’m done for the day someone will ring me outside my work hours or the receptionist will try and put a call through to my mobile. I often ask if my work hours are an issue and i’m met with ‘no no we have flexible hours as long as you are doing your expected hours a week you’re fine.’

        Most of the senior staff just have this expectation that you’ll get back online to answer a query or source info for them – neither of which is ever urgent. I make a point of answering emails ASAP at 7am & am now getting better at not checking my work phone & switching it to do not disturb after i have done my hours for the day/week.

        Staff starting later often forget that the employee ‘leaving early’ has already done a few hours of work by the time they arrive and in many cases, is in early to be out earlier to start the second shift – child pick ups, household labour etc.

      2. Overeducated*

        Yeah, as someone who works very early and sometimes has to push back on scheduling a 4 PM meeting if I can’t change my personal schedule or call in, I suspect the perception goes both ways (leaving early = less dedicated). I also feel the need to manage appearances that way.

    2. Goldenrod*

      “Because optics can go both ways.”

      Yes! My husband worked in an office where he had a similar but opposite issue. He preferred getting to work earlier and leaving earlier. His boss would roll in much later, then act like he was “leaving early” even though he’d already worked a full day.

      Power dynamics can turn this into a real problem, but luckily it sounds like you don’t have that problem, OP.

      1. ferrina*

        This happened to me. We had set office hours, 9-5, but my team was horribly understaffed (I was doing 3.5 people’s jobs). I was constantly swamped with meetings and interruptions throughout the day, so I would come in at 7am so I could get some work done before it got busy. I regularly worked 10 hour days, but since 2 of those hours were before my boss arrived, she never thought of me as doing overtime (apparently she never bothered to look at my time sheet, it was all about face time with her).

      2. Miette*

        This has always been my experience. I’m a person that just works and thinks and produces better at earlier times in the day. My direct bosses have always been okay with it, but if I had a dollar for every time some d-bag remarked, “Taking a half day?” when I left at 4:00 pm I’d be a lot wealthier.

        1. Happenstance*

          Good lord, even if you didn’t get in until 9, 4pm *still* wouldn’t be a half day! I really hate being salaried, because no one takes into consideration that maybe you are only working 6 or 7 hours this day because you worked 10 the day before. If given a choice, I much prefer to be hourly.

          1. TinyNurse*

            I totally agree! It really makes me anxious about optics when I tell people I won’t be available for X or Y meeting because I’m going to be out but I also can’t keep explaining that only want to ask for session pay (which is what happens if an exempt person works over their contracted hours at my company) for emergency situations!

    3. Sloanicota*

      To be fair, thinking about the Optics – it’s true that someone who comes in early will be viewed positively and someone who comes in late may be viewed negatively. But I also think someone who leaves at 3 or 4, while others are still working, may be viewed negatively (especially with the stereotypes around working moms and childcare) while someone who stays late will be rewarded. So basically, it’s Crazy Work Culture strikes again. You can’t really win unless you’re willing to work 60 hour workweeks – so you might as well at least please yourself.

      1. Dona Florinda*

        Although I completely agree with your point about there being no winners in this system, in OP’s case optics definitely matter because it seems like he is the only one who arrives later, and people sometimes only notice what they see. So to his coworkers he is ‘the one who only comes in after 9’, and since people don’t stay late enough in the office to see him working the same hours as everyone else, no one sees him as ‘the one who always works past 6’.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          In case my phrasing can help someone else Coleman

          There was one point where I was regularly getting into the office beforemy badge started working. When I heard snide comments about leaving early, I replied it’s the only benefit of coming in at 6 AM to work with Europe.

          I turned it around when my schedule changed– getting in late is the best part about working 2nd shift to meet with Australia.

          Say it brightly and cheerfully, and most people will back off.

        2. JustaTech*

          I observed the same thing at my office. Christina got in very early, and left early, and is one of those people who is super intense about schedules and rules.
          Reggie came in much later, and worked quite late.
          Christina and Reggie got off to a bad start, and one day Christina said something nasty about Reggie “never working” for the nth time.
          “You know he stays past 6, right? He’s still here when I stay late for traffic.”
          “He does?”
          It had literally never occurred to her that, just like she worked an early schedule, other people might work a late schedule.

          So if you think that people think you’re not working a full day, having someone on a more “normal” schedule verify that, no, you are actually working a full day like everyone else, it might help.

      2. Catwoman*

        I think this sums it up perfectly. It may also help the OP to put their working hours into Teams/Outlook and maybe even include it in an email signature.

      3. Qwerty*

        I think it has a lot to do with the team’s overall schedule. Core hours seem to work best when either everyone is on a similar schedule *most* days OR everyone is on a sliding scale. If the bulk of the team is on the earlier or later end, anyone who doesn’t conform looks like an outlier.

        I’ve been the early arriver on a late-schedule team, and they sincerely thought I was ducking out early every day because I arrived a couple hours before they did and they didn’t get around to answering my emails until the end of the day.

      4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yeah, I would take off a couple of hours before my colleagues and there was always someone to remark that it must be nice when your day finished at 4. I always answered that all they had to do was negotiate part-time work like me, and take the hit in their pay, and also, I was picking up my kids, and that was when the tough part of the day started, the part spent in the office being a picnic compared to my hasty commute, dealing with homework dinner bath story bed for the kids in time for them to be able to get enough sleep in to not be grumpy when it all started again the next day.

    4. Momma Bear*


      Where I live it’s not uncommon for people to have long commutes and sometimes come to the office at 6AM. There’s no way I’m arriving anywhere at 6AM. I have done things like look for an early riser’s emails first, or reached out to a customer who kept looking for me before my hours started. But other than that, flex if you can. It’s a perk not every job or role has.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        “long commutes and sometimes come to the office at 6AM”

        Yeah, I have some coworkers like that too. In effect, we’re in different time zones (despite being in the same building :P), and we send each other emails with the knowledge that the other will see it when they get in. Honestly, it’s kind of nice to send someone an email in the evening and have their response first thing in the morning when they’ve already been in for a while…

        1. Ellen D*

          I once had a team member who got in at 6.30 and left at 3.30, while I tended to arrive 9.30 and leave 6.30. It took time for me to adjust, but once we got a rhythm in place, it was great. He’d send me stuff to approve/comment at 3.30, I’d look at it and respond before I left and by the time I’d arrive at 9.30 he’d turned it around and we could clear. It was very efficient, as it meant we were rarely waiting on the other. In another team, I had a couple early starters (8am) and arrived to find they’d begun work on dealing with urgent requests or prep for unscheduled meeting with senior people, which enabled me to look good to senior management – prompt response and a team trained and capable of action. Equally, there were times, when I was working late that I picked up urgent requests that my boss wasn’t around to handle.

          Perhaps the issue is to make it clear the benefits of operating a mix of early & late starters, as this provides longer coverage in the office and often allows urgent matters to be dealt with. I seen no reason to change, what’s happening is the benefit/consquence of flexi-time.

          1. BetsyTacy*

            Yes, this is how I try and see it working on my team.

            We have staff who start as early as 7/730 and as late as 930. As the boss/grandboss for this group, I usually work 8-445. I like that there are people who handle the first thing in the morning triage and that there are people who handle the end of the day things. We purposefully cross train for our most time sensitive tasks so that whatever time they come in, we’re able to turn them right around.

            I see it as a perk I can offer my staff that improves their work/life balances. I would make a point though of being available/visible at the tail of your working hours – even just a quick note at the end of the day to your supervisor can help calm concerns.

          2. Laurie*

            +1 This was the case for a team I worked on. We had clients on both coasts (of the US) and our coverage for them was excellent. They rarely had to wait on deliverables.

      2. Rebecca*

        This was me. If I left my house at 6:35, I had a 30 minute drive. If I left at 6:55, it was almost an hour, and it got longer after that. School ran from 9-4:30, and I’d get to school when it was dark and empty, and I had first dibs at the copy machine and a coffee maker in my classroom. Admin was happy enough with the situation to give me my own set of keys to the building because I beat them there in the morning. If we ever had team meetings, they were over the lunch hour.

        But then at 4:30 I packed my bag with my kids and walked out the door with them. Stood outside for 10 minutes to watch them be picked up, left the stragglers with my boss who had to stay late regardless, and walked out to my car to beat as much traffic as possible.

        Ooooh my colleagues were annoyed and smug in equal measure. Teacher culture has martyrdom built into it sometimes, all of us competing to prove who loves their kiddos more, and they didn’t see me going back into the building to spend 2 more hours making photocopies. They’d be snide as I walked to the car, ‘Must be nice, I wish I could leave early,” and once, even, “I’m glad my kid is in a class with a teacher who cares.”

        I’d just offer to gives them the keys to the building and trade so they could come in before the lights were on.

    5. animaniactoo*

      I’d also love to see a comment in response to having to wait until LW gets in for an answer: “Yeah, sometimes I have to wait until the next day when I have a question for you and you’ve left earlier than I do.”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “if we plan this right, we can take advantage of the time differences. You start working early, I start working late, and the boss has someone on the job for 12 hours instead of 8.”

        1. pandop*

          This is how our team leader sees the varying schedule preferences of our team – we have a bunch of early birds who are often in 7:30ish, and a couple of night owls who stick around until 18:00 or so – ‘excellent coverage’.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            That’s what I did with a co-worker. She loved being the early bird, so would be there at 6-6:30am, and would be done by 4. I’m not a morning person, so I’d show up about 8-9 and stay until 6-6:30, sometimes even 7-8, depending on what I needed to do. We supported a shop floor, so it gave us increased coverage, which was perfect for everyone involved.

    6. Excel-sior*

      Depending on the culture, it’s worth considering just putting your hours into your email signature. It’ll remind everyone that you’re not coming in late because you’re slacking, but because those are your hours.

    7. Your Computer Guy*

      I wind up doing this because I figure email is asynchronous by design so I send out emails whenever and I’m chill on the response times. It definitely shows that I’m working at all different kinds of times (and I get compliments on my responsiveness on Teams).

      Since the pandemic and my team switching to full remote, I’ve been working around my kids with no complaints from management. But when I was training a dude to take over some of my tasks the poor guy piped up with “I don’t think I can keep up with you, you work 24/7” and I had to explain that I take out time during the day to get groceries or get my kid off the school bus. So then I started blocking things off on my calendar a little more clearly.

    8. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      yes, I had the opposite issue, I worked early and long hours, usually 6 am to 6 pm but my boss came in at 10, sometimes even later and then would be mad that I didn’t want to stay until 9 or 10 at night (even though he didn’t either).

    9. Storm in a teacup*

      Totally agree. OP I’m in the same boat exactly as you, I could have written this letter!
      I get in later than my colleagues on days we are in the office. One of them always comments when I arrive later than her but I am always one of the last to leave. I started making similar ‘joke’ comments when everyone was leaving early to those I received which was v petty but satisfying for a day.
      Sending emails after they’ve left was another tactic.
      Anyway in the end I ended up saying directly to one of the main perpetrators that whilst their hours are x-y mine are later and whilst I know they’re joking and don’t mean it I would appreciate it if they would stop insinuating I’m late or lazy. They stopped. It was fine.

      1. Kim*

        Yeah. I just loooove those ‘good evening!’ comments when I came in at 10. Ha-ha, you’re so funny!

    10. Manglement Survivor*

      I think I would put my hours in my email signature. That way everybody would know why I appeared to be coming in “late“ or leaving “early“.

    11. L'étrangère*

      I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to send off emails at the very last minute you’re working. I know it may seem counterintuitive because that’s the quiet time when you can concentrate on non-communication types of work, but make the effort every day if possible. If necessary schedule them, or save some drafts to have handy. And if you get some snarky comments about coming in late, be sure to counter on the spot something about having to fill in for them because they drop off early. I’ve found that using the word ‘stamina’ in my teasing often gets the point across best

  2. Toby Zeigler*

    Completely agree. However, if there’s a way to ensure that vendors or partners calling before you arrive aren’t receiving a negative message, I’d try it. Can you ask the receptionist (or whoever will take those calls) to tell those people that you’re unavailable until 10:00 or so and will get back to them a little later? I agree that you’re not doing anything wrong but there could still be a negative perception from others who may not know about your company’s core hours policy. Maybe worth a conversation.

    1. Let me librarian that for you*

      A matter-of-fact “LW’s office hours are 10-6” seems like an effective line for those message takers. Matter-of-fact because *of course* it’s normal for people to have their own defined hours.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I work in a service where it’s very common for people to be part time.

        Typically callers will receive the days we work and our email signature will also include those. (Although this is days, rather than hours.)

      2. Frickityfrack*

        I put that information in my voicemail (and occasionally email signature) any time I’m working outside of “normal” business hours or when I’m getting lots of calls before/after my work day. I’ve never had anyone be bothered by it as long as they know when they can reach me and that I’m not just ignoring my phone. It might be harder to specify in a flexible situation like OP’s, but I suspect even giving a general baseline would mitigate any impression of slacking off.

      3. Constance Lloyd*

        Yes. My day ends at 2:30 because I start at 6am. If my clients call after 2:30, they are told my standard hours and given the option to be transferred to my voicemail or be assisted by whoever answers. Same thing goes for my colleagues who start at 10. It does help that there is always someone to answer questions from 8-5, but honestly having to wait 2.5 business hours between asking a question and receiving a response isn’t that bad, either.

    2. Sally*

      Yeah, “he’s not in yet” is pretty negative. I agree that callers can be told that you’re “not available, but I’ll take a message.”

      1. Emily*

        I don’t think saying “he’s not in yet” is necessarily negative, but I think both “he’s not in yet” and “not available” are both too vague. The caller should be given LW’s hours so the caller understands when LW will be available, otherwise they may keep calling before LW is in the office. I think clear communication is the key here (as it is with a lot of things).

    3. Wow, really?*

      I agree with this. Things like, “They’re not in yet,” can be said with a tone by people who are judgy already, like the people who are irritated that you come in later. Email and ask everyone who answers the phone or waits on visitors to tell them what your hours are. This way no one gets the wrong idea or gives the wrong impression.

      1. Tyler*

        When I worked at technology at an elementary school, one person who worked in the front office would often say that I “wasn’t in yet” because I got there before she did. She would tell people that I didn’t arrive until 10, even though I got there at 7:45.

        I called her out on it and it never happened again.

        Used to also get hassled for staying later than I “should have” to get work done. Because others felt like it made them look like slackers. People have different standards.

    4. T.N.H.*

      Yes, agreed! When I answered phones, we had a strict policy of saying a person was unavailable, no explanation allowed. If a vendor you work with frequently always calls early, you can follow up with them personally about your working hours, but there’s no need to say it to anyone who happens to call before 10 a.m.

    5. Ainsley Hayes*

      I have a colleague who has her hours in her email signature (and, I think voicemail). It seems to work well.

    6. FD*

      I agree. I’m the only one in my office who opts to work an early schedule, so I just tell vendors I normally work a 6-3. I think setting a clear expectation with external contacts helps a lot.

  3. L-squared*

    Interestingly enough, in my experience, it also works the other way.

    I’ve had jobs where I was always one of the first ones in, and I also left first. And I feel that people looked at me as leaving “early” even though I put in the same number of hours.

    I think that, in general, whenever the majority have certain hours they are usually coming in, the outlier will be seen negatively. No its not fair, but it happens.

    As someone else said, just also make sure they can see you responding to emails later. So maybe that means things you may have sent earlier get delayed a bit for the sake of optics.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Yes. Best believe that I replied to all of the powers that be’s sometimes bordering on snarky “can’t believe you’ve left already” 6-7 p.m. emails to my department at 6:01 a.m. from my desk.

      I try to give a lot of grace on schedules.

    2. HipSaluki*

      It really can be a catch-22. About 2 years into my career I had someone go to management and say that I was leaving at 3 every day and they thought I was lying on my timecard (government contracting, so we had to track hours even though we were salaried). I had to sit in a meeting with my functional manager and team lead and explain of course I was leaving at 3pm, because I’d been in the office since 6am!

      1. John B Public*

        That is ridiculous. Unless it affects their work, why on earth should your manager be entertaining their false assumption with a *meeting*? Involving two supervisors‽!!

        “HipSaluki works a timeshifted schedule that has different hours based on the needs of our organization and our client. If you’d like to be here at 6am to see them arrive you’re welcome to bring them a coffee, I’m sure it would be appreciated.”

    3. Prospect gone bad*

      Many of us to be honest are skeptical because we’ve worked with people who claim to get in super early, and then every time somebody else comes in early, the person isn’t actually there yet. So some of us have been lied to in the past! I don’t wanna start a whole thread on this, I’m not saying it applies to you, I’m saying that’s my personal experience job hopping in corporate America. Not to mention that some people legitimately don’t realize that they’re not arriving as early as they think. Like, they may pull into the parking lot at 7:30, but by the time they actually get to working, it’s not that much earlier than everyone else

      1. L-squared*

        By that same token, someone staying “late” may not be staying as late as they think.

        And either way, unless its a coverage issue, or you are their manager, I still don’t think it is your concern

        1. High Score!*

          No matter what the issue is, even if it’s coverage or a coworker lying about hours, snarky comments and judgemental glares are never appropriate. If you have an issue with them then you should talk to your manager.

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          I used to be that person. I negotiated a later start time than everyone else, but I rarely needed the full hours to get my work finished so I often left not that long after they did. But I was a top performer who already went above and beyond (salaried/exempt) so it shouldn’t have mattered — still, I was relieved my shortened day was invisible because the optics could have been a problem.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One hidden side benefit of having to swipe a clock (yes, as a professional) is that a manager who thinks I am fudging my time can be shown the log in/log out times. (I offered at once when someone at my level and another department was being obnoxious. She did not take me up on it.)

        1. Emmy Noether*

          Oh yes, swiping a clock sounds controlling at first, but in reality, it is *to the advantage of the employee* 99% of the time. My last employer gave us a choice of swiping or tracking our own hours, and I chose swiping. So much easier to take compensation time off when one can show an official record of the exact number of overtime hours one has accumulated.

          1. amoeba*

            I love swiping the clock! We don’t even need to ask or justify or anything to take comp time – as long as the hours are in the system, you can use them. (Boss needs to approve, of course, jus as for any holiday, but does not get to decide whether you can use those hours or not. You can.)

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I used to do this. We had a ridiculous time-watching chief of staff who would walk around at 7:36 to see who was in their offices or cubes (we all generally arrived between 7:30 and 8).

      So if I was working late (which I ALWAYS was in that job, but never in CurrentJob!) and I had three final things to close out and micromanaging CoS was involved in one of them, I would always send that final product in last.

      So he was always seeing emails from me at 10pm.

      So when I got in at 7:45am and he was walking around with his clipboard, I could just smile professionally and sweetly at him and say yes sir, I just went to sleep 8 hours ago so I took 5 extra minutes to drink my coffee this morning’ and if he pressed I’d ask ‘has there ever been a time where you needed something from me and couldn’t reach me or didn’t get it?’ I had the rank to do it, so I would throw myself into his path to kind of advocate for the people who couldn’t.

      1. turquoisecow*

        Yeah I had a job like that. Official hours were 8:30-4:45 (with 45 minutes for lunch) and he would walk down the aisle where the hourly people worked at 8:15 and the complain to their manager they weren’t in yet. Because they weren’t supposed to be! He’d also complain if he walked down at 5:00 and people were gone. Do you want to pay overtime?

        I also was told I wouldn’t advance in the company if I showed up at 8:30. My boss and a few others at his level came in at 7:30. Can’t do it. I regularly worked past 5:00 (I was salaries) especially if I came in a few minutes late, but apparently the boss came by at 8:00 or 8:15 and thought of us all as slackers for being on time.

        1. Fishsticks*

          Had a prior job where the boss/business owner constantly complained about her employees clocking in just to take another ten or fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom, maybe even eat breakfast on early days, etc. Understandable, really – when you’re at work, you should be At Work.

          Except she, her store manager, the assistant manager, etc all did the exact. same. thing. She complained to me about the laziness of the retail/warehouse employees one day and I just shrugged at her and said they were just kind of reflecting the example they were given, and might do better given examples of higher-ups also walking the walk on starting work as soon as they arrive.

          She didn’t change her behavior, but she did stop complaining about everyone else for a couple of weeks.

    5. Green Goose*

      I sit in a open plan office and my area has one woman who comes into work to socialize, one who comes in to “avoid her roommates” and another who has two young children in his home so he can’t work there. I have the opposite where I get like 50% of my work done in the office with all the distractions, but it’s still looked down upon to not come in, even if it negatively impacts my output. Its so bizarre.

    6. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      At my company, most people arrive later, and stay later. And yup! Tend to stigmatize those leaving “early” without regard to the fact they arrived early. I don’t think it’s inherently unprofessional to work “off” hours. I do think it’s unprofessional to make snide remarks about other people’s schedules.

    7. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, I currently am about the earliest person in for my department (around 7-7:15 am) and I try to leave by 4, which can seem early to some folks. But two jobs ago, we had a similar flex schedule to the LW, and I worked 7:30 to 3:30 with no lunch – and had coworkers who worked 6 – 2:30 and others who worked 10-7. It really varied and I liked that that was normal.

    8. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yep. I’d get to work at 6:00 am for business reasons that everyone knew about, and when I’d leave a 4:00 pm, I’d get “Half day today?”

      I’d usually respond with “Maybe of you’d stop keeping tabs on everyone you’d actually get your work done on schedule.”

      1. Fishsticks*

        Coworker: “LOL, taking a half day, huh? Must be nice!”
        You: “It’d only be a half day if I hadn’t come in until noon, Brick!”

    9. Dilly*

      I once worked on something that was part of a joint venture so we were all in one place, but everyone was employed by one of 2 companies. Company 1 worked 4-10s so they all worked M-Th 8am-6:30pm. Company 2 (my company) just required that you averaged 8 hours/day over the course of the pay period (1-15 and 16th-end of month so # of days varied). So I worked M-F 7:45am-4-15pm (I took a commuter train so had to stick to a stricter schedule than if I took a bus or subway or drove as there were only so many trains). So even though I arrived around the same time as all the Company 1 employees, I was always the first of the Company 2 people in and left earlier than anyone in the office, even the Company 1 employees who came in as early as 7. I know that some of the Company 1 employees looked at me wistfully when I left, but that was because they found 10 hour days hard, not because they thought I was slacking. We had a good team and everyone pulled their weight.

    10. Golden*

      I definitely felt this in academia. Staying late (or returning after dinner, or even sleeping overnight) in the lab was almost a given, whereas arriving and leaving early was Just. Not. Done.

  4. word nerd*

    I would just like to say that I love the way you write, Alyson. Where else could I see the words “debauched” and “indolent libertine” used in the answer to a work question?

    1. MigraineMonth*

      My new life goal is to earn those descriptions. An indolent weekend sounds even better than a lazy Sunday.

      1. The Eye of Argon*

        I’m trying to take lessons from my cats, the ultimate indolent libertines. They’re downright sybaritic. Unfortunately they want to be fed at 6:30 a.m. whether it’s the weekend or not and it’s hard to be indolent with all the pawing, meowing, scratching, pouncing, and door scratching going on }:(

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          I’m a fairly early riser, but on those occasions when I’m out of town, my wife (who is very much NOT an early riser) has to get up to feed the cats. And then she goes back to bed and sleeps some more. Maybe consider it “split-shift” indolence? :-)

        2. Vio*

          Hadn’t come across the word “sybaritic” before so thanks for that! I love the language used here too, in some ways Alison reminds me of Stephen Fry with the vast vocabulary and knowledge that coming from some people would seem pretentious and condescending but instead comes across as coming from someone with a genuine love of language and communication.

          Also I only recently learned about The Eye of Argon on TVtropes and I’m sorely tempted to try reading it. Would love to see a comedy troupe perform an adaptation of it.

  5. I Work for Cats*

    At my previous job I dealt with customers who were 5 hours ahead of us so I came into work about 1 to 1-1/2 hours earlier than everyone else and left earlier. Nobody noticed that I was always there before anyone else but boy did they comment that I left “early” every day. So whether you come in and leave early or late, there will always be someone who takes umbrage. As long as your manager knows and is OK with your schedule, it’s really not anyone else’s business.

    1. High Score!*

      A few jobs ago, one coworker worked from noon till 9 or 10pm. It was great bc we sometimes got customer calls who wanted their stuff fixed now. Late Dude handled all the evening calls without complaint. THEN upper management decided that everyone would work 8-5. Late Dude tried but could never get in on time and was eventually fired. The rest of us refused to answer our phones after hours so they ended up having to expand the tech support dept and Late Dude found a position that would accommodate his preferred hours without complaint.

      1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        I wish I could work that schedule. One place I managed to work 10 am to 7 pm. With the commute I had at the time I still had to get up at 8 am. But the group I was in didn’t give me any flak about it – because most of them left at 4 or before, and I handled all of the late stuff, and all of the on-call stuff that happened after 9 pm (when the early birds were already in bed).

        Early in my career I had a job that demanded 7 am start, with time clock. I was always late, because I just don’t do mornings well. Now I WFH, and log on at 9 am, and work until 5:30 or 6 pm. I roll out of bed at 8:30, and I can mostly cope with that.

        Ideally I would work a nice 11 am to 7:30 pm. My problem is that my natural sleep cycle is 4 am to noon. I fall back to it if I take even a one week vacation. I also have insomnia, so I have to take medication to regularize my sleep schedule.

        I have worked with and for people who did 7 am to 3:30 pm because that’s when their commute bus ran. Most of those people had kids who also got up at 6 am or earlier to get to school. But some people are born larks – I have a roomie who gets up between 4 and 6 am every day. They also go to bed around 8 pm. That would drive me nuts.

        1. Your Computer Guy*

          I am a night owl and my natural sleep would be 5am to 2pm (I got to discover this one summer in grad school). I had one job where I worked 2pm to midnight 4 days a week to cover west coast clients from the east coast. It was amazing! Never managed such a schedule again, and now I have small, school-aged children so I have to get up unconscionably early in order to literally wrestle other people into their clothes. It has been brutal, I’ve been struggling so much with sleep.

        2. High Score!*

          If you already WFH, try to find a job with a multinational company. Everyone is online & time zones make flex hours a necessity, so no one will care when you work. Working with the China or Korean teams are always a pain for those on EST but you could be an asset to a similar team.

        3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          I have had a couple jobs that were 11 to 7 or 7:30 and I love that schedule. Can complicate one’s social life but it fits with my rhythms so much better.

        4. whingedrinking*

          The summer after I graduated from university, I worked at a coffee shop from 2 to 10 PM five days a week. For me, it was glorious – I’d leave work, maybe go to the pub with a friend, ride my bike home, play video games or be online until two AM, wake up without an alarm clock, and still have time to get a couple things done in the morning before my next shift. It was the only time in my life I can remember feeling like I didn’t have to pry myself out of bed and didn’t feel guilty about being a late riser.

      2. Momma Bear*

        The only time I had a job with really prescribed hours was a client site and we were locked out before/after those hours. Otherwise I’ve had at least a little bit of flex in any salaried position I’ve had. Companies that fail to look at the big picture shouldn’t complain when things fall down.

      3. Martin Blackwood*

        Reminds me of a guy in another department at my job. My department has two shifts, I work 3pm-11pm. His department is more flexible. I see him come in around 6pm and he stays until after midnight? After 1am? I dont know if I’ve ever seen him leave, even when I’m doing overtime. I know he’s been with the company for a long time, so I’m sure he’d hate to have to find another desk job that let’s him keep these hours

        Guy just is a night owl that likes to keep to himself. Respect.

  6. ScruffyInternHerder*

    Things I’ve found:

    1. No matter what, someone is going to be unhappy about core hours, and unless that person is your manager, don’t waste your time on what they’re unhappy about.
    2. Someone is going to b!tch about “kids these days” or “d@mn Millenials”. And at least one of them is actually going to BE a Millenial himself (okay, that’s a very particular and funny story)
    3. Grace helps, everyone needs it. I used to get all shades of grief for “leaving early”. Sure, it was 3:30 p.m., but my department started at 6 a.m.
    4. Know that you’re arranging your life the way it works for you.

      1. Kacihall*

        To be fair, half the people complaining about millennials in the last ten years didn’t realize we’ve had jobs and kids and tried to buy houses that decade.

        1. Lydia*

          For reals. People still gripe about Millenials when it doesn’t occur to them they mean Gen Z, which doesn’t make it any more valid. It’s annoying.

          1. Emi (not a bear expert)*

            I have just accepted that when I’m 95 I’m still going to be reading articles about how Millennials are rude to their school bus drivers.

      2. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I’m in an industry where I’m not sure that GenZ has even hit the radar yet, and half of the people complaining about “Millenials” are in fact…Millenials themselves but adamantly deny it because they don’t actually know what the age refers to.

        Personally find it darkly amusing.

        1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

          I get salty about people complaining about boomers, when they don’t realize that “boomers” born after 1960 in the US got the short shrift, along with Gen X, because of Reaganomics. Them and Gen X were actually the first generation cohorts that got frozen out of the housing market. (I wasn’t able to buy a house until I was in my 50s).

          1. Mika Spasojevich*

            Same. I remember the mortgage rates when I graduated (flat broke) from college was 18% If someone went around saying that you can only buy a house with an 18% interest rate, do you think everyone would just suck it up? We had no choice back then. When I finally managed to buy a small 800-square-foot house, my rate was 7.25% and I thought that was cheap – LOL

          2. ScruffyInternHerder*

            That’s because Gen X was invisible and was raised in a manner that left us mostly feral ;)

            (Yep, I’m a later Gen X-er)

            1. Lizzie*

              I’m an early one, but yeah. I still remember walking everywhere, INCLUDING to kindergarden, alone or with friends. Down a main street, then up like 5 blocks. i also walked to the library in town, down the same main street, through the downtown, and across the railroad tracks. All before the age of 8.
              we moved when I was 9, adn same thing, only I had a bike. i rode it everywhere, alone, and we all just did our thing, only coming home at the appointed time!

              1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

                I’m a late boomer/early gen X, and I was a latchkey kid who babysat my kid sister in the afternoon while my parents were at work. We walked everywhere, and it would have been seen as overprotective and weird to have our parents walk us to school past kindergarten. I actually lived close enough to my grade school that I wasn’t even allowed to ride my bike, I had to walk (in the snow, uphill both ways… grin) When we were tossed outside to play we had to come home when the streetlights came on.

                But if you came of age around 1980, all the benefits that people just a few years older had were just plain gone. The economy was in shambles and getting worse, tinkle down economics was the de facto law of the land, and the safety net was being dissolved underneath us.

      3. Fishsticks*

        Ha, I wish. I have coworkers who STILL try to blame millenials for the spring-break spread of covid in 2020, and have to patiently explain over and over that absolutely no millenials whatsoever were going on college spring break in their thirties.

    1. Late Riser Letter Writer*

      Lol! Sure enough, the chief complainer was a millennial, and I’m early Gen Z.

  7. High Score!*

    This is so annoying and it goes the other way too. I once worked at a place like that but most the staff arrived late. I got in at 6:30 or 7 and ended my day at 3:39 or 4. Coworkers felt entitled to make snarky comments as I was leaving. While my manager was happy with my work, I think it did hold me back professionally bc those comments put ideas into other managers heads. I even responded back with comments like, “Well Karen, come in earlier if you’d like to leave earlier.”

    1. Green Goose*

      I’ve experienced this too, and even though I’ve never had someone with power say anything it still stresses me out. I live in a very heavy traffic area and if I leave for work after 10:30am it’ll take 15 minutes vs. 40 minutes, and if I leave by 2pm it’ll take 15-20 vs. an hour. I’m still clocking way more than 40 hours a week but I really hate the judgement of trying to only work certain hours in the office so that my precious few off-work hours aren’t sucked up by a commute. What I usually do is work 8am-10:30am at home, drive to work, 10:45/11-2pm work at the office, 2:30-5pm work at home, log off for family time and dinner and then work 7:30pm-9pm.
      It really annoys me that I need to work so much but then an emphasis is put on optics of people that work in the same office as me but that I do not do any overlap work with.

      1. GreenShoes*

        I used to have to do summer hours that revolved around MLB games.

        A typical commute was 30 min.
        If it was an early game I’d leave work later (after 5 closer to 6), if it was a late game (7pm) I’d leave work earlier (between 3 -4). On the days I didn’t time it right or couldn’t adjust my schedule I was guaranteed an extra hour in my commute as I drove right past the ballpark.

        My boss made a comment one day about never knowing when I’d be working until, then I pointed at the game schedule he’d imported to his outlook calendar and that he knew the schedule better than I did. I don’t think he’d made the connection between the two things until I pointed it out to him.

        1. Tangential Tangerine*

          I used to keep all the sports calendars up in my cube when I lived in Chicago (in the 90s, big Bulls years) and commuted to the suburbs. The United Center traffic got me the worst but Wrigley could do some damage, too. Gotta love a town where no matter how bad the team is, you can still sell out baseball games in the middle of a work day…

    2. CR*

      I have always been that person coming in earlier so I can leave earlier. I just feel like I have so much more free time if I’m not ending the work day at night in the dark!

  8. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Flex hours benefit everyone.
    The people who start at 7 choose to do that, whether they are morning people, they work two jobs, child/parent care, personal schooling.
    I’m betting the people who are most annoyed are the 8-5 people who think everyone should work then.
    So they get it.
    But there are also the folks who are just as annoyed coming in to find messages from people who have been working for an hour and are annoyed they can’t get answers from people who leave before they do.
    But ultimately, they are annoyed that everyone doesn’t work 8-5, because those are the rules and we should all follow the rules. Flex time is just something they say to make (insert generation being hyped at the moment) apply.
    So should you still be considering flipping your life around for this, I suggest you read the folk tale. know. as “The boy, his father and the donkey.”

    1. Sunshine*

      I think there’s something to this. We also have flexible core hours. I come in at 8:30 and am always getting snarky comments from my desk neighbor about how “late” I come in! She doesn’t even work in my department, I just think there is a morality thing attached to getting in as early as possible and she likes to feel superior.

      1. BlondeSpiders*

        I WFH, but I am also an 8:30 starter.

        Occasionally I will open up Teams to see multiple messages needing info, and some are exasperated that I’m not available earlier. But they suuuuure love when I’m able to handle an emergency at 5:30 or 6pm, so I always remind them.

      2. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        If the larks complain I come in “late”, I turn around and complain that they leave early. When they come back with “But I get in at a proper time of 7 am” I respond “Maybe so, but I work until a proper time of 7 pm”. Yes, I have been known to snark at people who can’t mind their own business well enough to STFU about my schedule.

        My boss at one job was an early bird 7 am to 3:30 pm. He had no problems with me working 10 am to 7 pm – that meant he now had coverage for the people who worked after 4 pm, which were quite a few.

        The only flak I’ve ever received was from early birds who thought that the very late latest that someone should show up in an office was 8 am. I ignored them.

      3. ferrina*

        I’ve also seen it go the other way: “I stayed so late at the office today! I was so committed to the project! I was answering emails at night!”
        Um, you came it at 10:30 then had a 1.5 hour lunch. Yes, of course you’re working at 7:30pm.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      I also think some people get annoyed because they can’t shift their schedules how they might want (school dropoff/pickup, etc), and rather than cultivate a “well, that’s life” attitude they just get angry at anyone who doesn’t work the same schedule, and therefore have the same commute problems or whatever that they have.

  9. I should really pick a name*

    What about the vendors who call after 3:00 and you tell them that coworker X has already left?

    Please don’t convince yourself that you’re doing something wrong.

    1. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

      all anyone would need to do is say that the OP’s hours ar 9-6 (or whatever). They should not say “he’s not in yet”. Or they could say that the OP is not available and will call back.

  10. Don't miss that job*

    I had the reverse of this at my last job. I came in at 6am and left at 3pm to be home when my kids got off the bus. I very visibly worked from home for at least a couple of hours after that, but was told that I was perceived as slacking off because I left early. I do not miss that job or the people.

    I now work on a global team where people have drastically different hours. We hold questions that don’t need to be answered right away until their hours (god bless the ‘schedule for later’ option in Slack) and we have an escalation policy for things that absolutely need an immediate answer.

  11. Prefer my pets*

    I have delayed sleep phase syndrome and given the option would work graveyards, or at least late swing. I’m so relieved to FINALLY be in an office that honors maxi-flex schedules and no one cares if you come in at 6am or 9:30am. Those of us who skew late give the early birds gentle ribbing over going to bed when the day is just really getting going and “leaving at lunch”.

    Since your supervisor is pleased, stick with what you’re doing to help normalize that everyone as different peak productive hours.

    1. Minerva*

      Really…having schedule like this are a benefit to the employer as well. You can have extended coverage in a day without people putting in 10-12 hrs days on the norm.

      I get in at 7-7:30AM by choice, which makes me a reliable contact for our oversees associates if they are trying to catch someone US time for something urgent. Meanwhile we have associates who work until 6-7PM by choice and they are the ones we can give certain late day tasks to. And this is just something we all fell into naturally based on whether we are morning or afternoon people.

      1. bamcheeks*

        And individuals get concentrated time to work when you can’t have team meetings and colleagues aren’t pestering you with questions! The early risers get 7-10, and you get 3-6pm.

      2. workswitholdstuff*

        Shorter hours, but the same applies. I’m not naturally an early starter, but my boss was, and back in the days (when we had the luxury of more senior staff in our service), and we liked to try and retain a ‘senior staff member’ on site most days of the week, both ends of the day, we naturally fell into ‘Bossman does 8-4, WorkswitholdStuff does 9-5’ and theres someone there with FoH most of time for anything that needs dealing with.

        (of course, there’d be the odd day we were both not there, but it worked well, and I’d always be about for core hours). It was pre anyone not at manager level being allowed to WFH.

        Now, I do skew a bit later physically in the office (unless needed in specifically), but I tend to be answering emails/calls etc from 8.30 onwards, and will wfh in evening to catch up (and I enjoy the quieter evening with less emails if I’m trying to catch up with stuff uninterupted)

      3. Lily Rowan*

        Right! I had a (terrible) boss once who had a (misguided in this case) notion that our office should be “available” from 8 to 7, I think it was, so he had everyone working one late day and one early day. How much better to let the early birds keep an early schedule and late/late!

    2. Sally*

      I try to do what Alison says about being an example. I’m not particularly senior, but I’m middle-aged, and I’ve been working a long time. I also work with a great team, and they know that I “start later and end later,” which is the phrase I use. I guess I’m a little defensive about it because I don’t like saying I start “late” because I’m not late – I’m right on time – for my schedule.

    3. Destroyer of Typos*

      Fellow delayed sleep phase syndromer here! mine isn’t even terribly severe, but being able to work 9-5:30 from home instead of 8-4:30 in office has made all the difference in the world. I’m actually functional for my entire work day when I can get the sleep in the time my body needs it. You get way better work out of me when I’m not struggling to stay awake all day.

      It’s a win for everyone!

      1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        I don’t have an official Dx, but my natural sleep schedule is 4 am to noon. I compromise by WFH and logging in at 9 am. The guy in Chicago has been on a couple hours already, and I’m in California so we have good coverage.

    4. Avery*

      Different sleep disorder here, idiopathic hypersomnia, but yes, so much this! It makes a huge difference being able to actually get my 10 hours of sleep in and then work from like 10-6. (Exact hours vary some, and I’m technically part-time, but that’s the gist of it.) Even when I just had to work at 9, getting up that much earlier definitely had a negative impact on my work… and that’s even with working from home to boot!

    5. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      Also delayed sleep phase here, and it was so great to be able to come in at a time that worked for me. It had the bonus of avoiding peak freeway traffic on both ends of the commute. I did have to come in by 7am for one monthly east coast meeting, but I could handle that single day.

      I eventually made a buddy in another department who worked more or less the same schedule, which was nice.

    6. cat in cardboard box*

      Just want to wave to all of you fellow DSPers here. (Thanks for commenting; helps me feel less alone and I hope I can do the same for you.)

  12. Green Goose*

    Has anyone had any experience asking about core hour realities when applying for jobs? I’m on the hunt and a few places have posted about core hours, but I’ve never worked somewhere that has offered that so I’m not sure what to ask. I have two little kids, so there is daycare pick-up and drop off. But I’d honestly love to be able to go to the gym some mornings after dropping the kids off, or other things that might fall between 9am-10am or 3pm-5pm. How would I go about asking about the core hours expectations without sounding like a loafer?

    1. CharlieBrown*

      You could ask about the flexibility outside of core hours. If core hours are 9-3, do they expect you to stick to a schedule outside of those core hours?

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I ask “what hours do people on this team typically work?”

      Answers I’ve gotten:
      – “We have core hours from 10-3, and you can work any hours around that as long as you get 8 hours” (I accepted that job and most people worked in the 8am – 5pm range but no commented on the few outliers who worked 7am – 3 pm or 10am – 6pm)
      – “Most people start between 7:30am and 8:30am and leave when they hit 8 hours”
      – “Everyone in our department works 7:30am to 4pm”

    3. SarahKay*

      I moved to a new site last year, and didn’t even get as far as asking about hours; they were keen to tell me about the option to flex hours on a day-to-day basis provided I was in for core hours of 10-3.
      Granted, I had the advantage of just moving to a new site in the same company so I was able to chat to colleagues to verify what I was told, but I suspect most companies offering a reasonable degree of flex will know that this is desirable and will want to tell candidates about it.

  13. CharlieBrown*

    I work from 7:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon. Some of my coworkers don’t come in until 9 or 10 (or later) in the morning and work well into the evening.

    And that is just fine by me. I can start my day without having an excess of messages or emails popping up to bug me. And I know that my coworkers who work later than me will wrap up some things and send them back to me while I am not working, and I can start doing my bit on them first thing in the morning. We are getting the work done. Everybody’s happy, including our management, since our productivity is high. And it’s because people get to work at a time of day when they can be most productive.

    People who grouse about other’s hours should just stop and focus on what they themselves are getting done.

    1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

      People who grouse about other’s hours should just stop and focus on what they themselves are getting done.


      I have found that most people who complain that I am coming in “late” don’t do much besides gossip and goof off. Sure, they’re “there”, a butt in the seat, but that’s about all.

    2. Guin*

      Exactly. I’m remote 4 days a week, and I start working at 6:30, break between 1:30-3:30 to have lunch and pick up from school; and monitor/answer email between 4-4:45. The work gets done. Let people do what is best for them!

    3. Fishsticks*

      Yep! I get into work between 7 – 730 and tend to leave around 3 pm (I don’t take a lunch break, just eat at my desk). Sometimes I leave at 330 or at 4 depending on if I’m finishing something up. My coworkers come in two hours later than I do, between 9 – 930, and are usually there until about 5 pm.

      The only commentary I’ve gotten is that my officemate, who works 9 – 5, will comment every. single. time. I work later than my usual ending time.

  14. Three Seagrass*

    I think the optics can go both way! My office is also flexible and I’m on the early side (8-4), not due to any obligations but because I like those hours. And I sometimes feel the pressure to stay later just to be seen by the higher ups because they are the ones doing the 9-5 hours. I feel like there is a perception I am not around because I am leaving before others and not answering emails after I leave (I don’t check email after I leave, my work life balance is great!).
    So sometimes I shift my hours around to come in a little later. But moving your hours to come in earlier to cover for some weird perception is a bigger burden, I think. And now that I know people on the other end of the spectrum feel the same as me, I might stop doing it!

  15. Lanlan*

    “It’s incredibly irritating that people who work a schedule like yours in an office that explicitly allows it are sometimes seen as lazy or “getting away with something” when people who do the same thing in the other direction (arrive early/leave early) are not.”

    THIS SO HARD. And I say that as a 7:45 AM-4:15 PM girl. I am explicitly choosing the hours that feel the best during the day, which should be everyone’s right. My boss is more of an 8:15 guy, and everyone above us is like “yeah, you’ll see me if you see me” so sometimes they won’t get in until noon. Because they’ve been working their ‘nads off from home in the morning/because they pulled a late shift last night, who cares why? If flex time is a perk, then flex time is a perk and you should use it to accommodate your circadian rhythms. You’re “getting away with” good health and peak performance. :)

  16. Minerva*

    Please please please continue to take your employer at their word and work a schedule that is best for you. You are actually setting a healthy example that flex schedules aren’t just “for show”

  17. Prospect gone bad*

    Often times getting in early is important, but in your case, you’re not making a compelling case for it, so I would say it probably doesn’t matter. I’ve worked in places where it’s legitimately mattered and had people try to convince me that it doesn’t matter. But I don’t see you doing that, all you’re mentioning is image, no hard and fast reason to get there early every day

  18. 2 Cents*

    OP’s coworkers would have an absolute fit over my work’s hours post-COVID. People leave to drop off/pick up children from school, most of us work 60-90% of the time from home, core hours seem to be 10-2 (though nothing official), and no one gets on anyone else’s case about it.

    At my last job, I came back from maternity leave part time, an arrangement that the owners chose not to share with anyone. But I did. Because the looks and mutterings the people I called friends made under their breath were amazing, even though I was putting in my agreed-upon hours.

  19. Agent M*

    I work in a coverage-based office with fixed schedules. For a very long time, my scheduled hours were 6 AM – 3 PM. I got quite used to people commenting “wow, it must be nice to leave so early,” and watching them flinch when I replied “yeah, but it’s not so great starting at 6.”

    When your hours are “other than standard” you’ll always find someone who envies one end of your shift!

    1. Contracts Killer*

      Even if it isn’t coverage based hours, having slightly different hours from your coworkers can help internally and externally. I work for an international company that’s based in an area with Pacific Time. I’m on Eastern Time. They know that if needed, I’m flexible enough for the occasional 7 p.m. meeting to accommodate different time zones. On the flip side, I answer many international questions at 7:30 a.m. my time so that my counterparts in California don’t have to be up for a 4:30 a.m. conference call. It works out for everyone.

  20. outdoor office worker*

    I LOVE the practice of “letting your own behavior be a form of advocacy for Things That Are Different From The Traditional.” However… in my own experience I found that this has usually just been perceived as rudeness or using one’s higher position to “get away with” things that others would not be able to do. My personal example: I like to take walks outdoors during zoom meetings when I don’t have to run the meeting or take notes. In doing this, I thought I was role-modeling healthy habits, but I found out later that others found it very distracting and didn’t really believe that I was focused on work during these meetings. So…. shrug and sigh.

    1. Ruh Roh Raggy*

      Honestly, I hate it when people walk during their calls with me. It generally does come with audible breathing, wind noise, sometimes crunching gravel underfoot – and yeah, walking generally requires attention, crossing streets, etc.

  21. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    OP, what exactly are they doing/saying that makes you conclude there’s resentment? I’d recommend potentially addressing it each time that happens.

    Your tone should be kind of puzzled cheerfulness (or at least neutrality): “Our core hours are 10-3, what do you mean/is there something you’d like changed in our processes so that you can get what you need from people outside core hours?”

  22. Lily Potter*

    Stand your ground. To paraphrase a reply from above, you could always reply “You should start coming in late too; I’d love the company at 7 pm!” People need to see the tradeoffs for the perk of starting later.

    Different scenario but same principle – years ago, a good friend negotiated a reduction to .8 FTE and was thus off work every Friday. She dealt with all of the “how do I get THOSE hours?” questions by replying “I’m sure you could do it too, but you’ll have to take a 20% pay cut!”

  23. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    I had to cope with this at my last, very very toxic, job. The thing is, the people who complain MOST about what time you come in? Are doing it on work time. That’s the point I stuck to when things got bad (seriously, a whole unit of people, whose unit I didn’t even work i n, were actively trying to get me fired because I didn’t come in at eight-thirty). The loudest, angriest people running into other people’s offices to scream about my 9:30 arrival did it ON WORK TIME, instead of using that time to, I don’t know, do their own damn jobs?

    What I found is that when such people use a LOT of work time on really stupid, seventh-grade-mean-girl crap like this, it always comes back to bite them in the ass. I mean, it’s not worth worrying about to begin with; but if you find yourself getting irritated, it’s worth the two minutes to remind yourself that, in the long run, they’re just hurting themselves.

    (Yes, I KNOW certain employers allow and even encourage this behavior — see “toxic job” above. The lesson still applies, if you wait long enough.)

  24. Sara without an H*

    Sigh. People will always grouse about something. If you’re really concerned, you might verify with your own manager that your schedule is reasonable. Your manager, btw, is the only one whose opinion counts here.

  25. Help Desk Peon*

    We talked about the “use your capital” thing at work a few months ago. My boss flexes his hours often and is really transparent about it, so we do too. I did some wild hair colors for a bit, and I’m having a lot of fun with my wardrobe. I’ve been happy to see other coworkers doing the same.

  26. Language Lover*

    I’m a late riser as well and I get jealous of my early-out-the-door coworker. But we both makes choices of when to work. And early wouldn’t work for my sleep schedule or work schedule as something always seems to come up when I work an earlier set of hours than normal. I end up working longer than I would have had I come in at my normal time.

    Alison’s advice is spot on. Stick to what you’re doing without a second thought.

    However, if you would like to try to combat perception, there’s also the option of having an “early day” every once in a while (weekly, monthly…etc.), if you don’t already, to demonstrate that you can do it if needed.

    1. calonkat*

      Agreed! I’m a baby boomer by some calculations (though my school was filled with stuff bought for those kids that was broken and unused) and I always joke that my brain wakes up at 9am. My boss is also supportive and it’s just a thing that no one schedules early morning meetings with me, or at least not in person meetings!

      People who want to gripe about others will always do so. If you worked exactly the same hours as them, they’d complain about your lunch, your clothing, your use of the printer/bathroom/coffee machine (over or under use).

  27. Dinwar*

    I think the key is to do it proudly. Make it clear that you are absolutely confident in what you’re doing. The people who criticize you are likely doing so out of habit or out of jealousy; either way, they’re going to be like sharks circling you for a while, and if you let a drop of doubt creep in they’ll attack you from that angle.

  28. Clobberin' Time*

    when people who do the same thing in the other direction (arrive early/leave early) are not

    This sounds more like a night-owl rant than anything reality-based – we’ve seen plenty letters on this very site from people asking ‘how do I keep my coworkers/boss from making snide comments about me leaving early even though I start earlier than they do and work at least the same number of hours if not more’?

    LW, if the office culture is one where your hours are supposed to be “arrive before the boss and leave after they do” regardless of how many hours you put in or how late you stay, that’s not something you can easily fix.

    But I’d also take a serious look at whether there is any real impact on your workplace from your hours. There are workplaces where it literally doesn’t matter if you come in at 7 am or 10 am. But there are other workplaces where coming in earlier means that you get stuck with rush time, or with the worst projects. If the most and crappiest time of day is 8-10 am and you routinely come in at 10 every day, your co-workers have a point.

      1. Clobberin' Time*

        What? I was referring to AAM’s very first paragraph in response to the LW, where she rolls her eyes about how people who both start and leave early don’t get flak.

    1. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

      Thats what the core hours are for. If the op is at core hours there shouldn’t be any issues. Its just busy bodies who think they know what should be done, or people who cant wait the few hours for a response.

  29. Richard Hershberger*

    I wonder if there is an age component in sleep patterns. I, in my Very Advanced Youth, am a morning person, routinely getting up by 5:30. This information would have astonished me in my Less Advanced Youth.

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      *lightbulb moment* Yes there seems to be an age component, and I suspect this connects to people complaining about “kids these days” keeping later hours.

      If a person stops and thinks about it, they might remember that they were keeping later hours twenty or thirty years ago. But in the moment, what they see is that their younger co-workers tend to be the ones who are arriving (and leaving) later than they are.

      1. Chirpy*

        I seem to have shifted later as I get older, however, some of that may be that I’m actually more able to set my own schedule. Getting up for school at 6am was always hard, my natural sleep cycle was 11pm to 7-8am, currently seems to be closer to 12-9ish (but that may also be influenced by my current work schedule, as I have been scheduled slightly later for around a year now.)

    2. BubbleTea*

      I definitely got up earlier when I was younger. For a brief and startling period in my twenties, I got up before 6am and went for a run.

      These days I wake up around 6.30am but I rarely start work before 10am. Then again, I typically finish for the day around 5.30pm and then do a couple more hours in the evening. It’s a schedule that works for me and I’ve finally managed to arrange the rest of my life to suit it!

    3. TechWorker*

      Yes! I remember a really interesting research paper about how ideal sleep times change with age, with teenagers most likely to want to go to bed late and get up late, and then body clocks gradually shifting over time, to the point where elderly people sometimes have a natural wake up time of something like 5am… it was saying that this is because at one point humans needed to as a group be awake overnight to watch for predators/keep an eye on animals. I’m sure it’s googleable and don’t shoot me if I’ve paraphrased badly but that made a lot of sense to me!

      1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        LOL. I haven’t really shifted as I got older, although 8:30 am is easier than it used to be. I’m still a night owl, and I enjoy the occasional nap, too.

      2. MBG*

        Yes, has a lot of information on this phenomena- which employers should know can last into the twenties.

    4. just another queer reader*

      I think it’s a thing that as people get older, they need less sleep.

      When I visited my parents a few weeks ago they exhausted me! They were staying up past 11 and still waking up at 6!

    5. MBG*

      There definitely is. Adolescents and young adults experience a temporary sleep phase shift in the release of their melatonin, resulting in later natural bedtimes and also temporarily have a higher sleep need of 9-10 hours. The Start School Later movement is based in sleep science. If you’re interested, has a lot of info.

  30. TomatoSoup*

    I’m a night owl who has been forced into early-birdness by a prior job and then being parent to two little kids. Trying to force yourself into earlier hours is clearly possible if you *have* to but I don’t recommend it. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to shifting my schedule later at some point in the future.

    1. Cat Herder*

      It happens! When I had my daughter, I became a morning person just so I could have some time alone before she woke up (and she was an early riser). Then I worked 7-4 shift (with 1.5 hrs commute both ways) so I could be home as early as possible for dinner etc. Finally, with the pandemic and everything else, we all slept until 9 am. My now teenager sleeps until noon if possible, so I have reverted back to being a morning person, and I can’t believe i ever got up at 530 am.

  31. Problem!*

    I could have written this letter verbatim at my old job. We had people come in at 6-6:30 AM and do absolutely nothing but drink coffee and read the news for the first two or three hours of the day until other people showed up, eat lunch, then literally fall asleep at their desks after lunch until they went home at 2 or 3. But heaven forbid should you come in at 8:30-9 and work till 5 or 6 because sleeping in = lazy. I worked a job with flex hours and this guy would work an extra hour each day M-Th and do half day Fridays so he’d come in at 5 AM and be gone by 9 AM. His role was one people needed to interact face to face with so everyone would have to rush in extra early on Fridays to catch him before he left. But if he’d worked 10-2 on those days that would be seen as slacking despite being more productive and useful for the organization as a whole.

    I’m lucky where I work now is mostly young people who don’t have the puritanical idea that getting up at the crack of dawn is what good upstanding people do and anyone who sleeps in is a heathen, but most workplaces haven’t been that way.

    1. Rake*

      “I’m lucky where I work now is mostly young people who don’t have the puritanical idea that getting up at the crack of dawn is what good upstanding people do and anyone who sleeps in is a heathen”

      I’m so sorry I have to be the one to tell you about the That Girl trend on TikTok.

  32. DameB*

    I had the same problem from the other end for several years. I worked a shifted schedule that got me in two hours before everyone else and when I left (90 minutes before everyone else) there would be snide comments about “leaving early”. I don’t know that it ever stopped, but it did abate a bit when I went away for two weeks and my coworkers had to come in early to deal with the first-thing-in-the-morning tasks that I always took care of.

    Stick to your guns, OP, and work the schedule that you need.

    1. Some Dude*

      I had the same thing. I had to leave at 4pm to pick my kid up from preschool at a place that was very much 9-5 and would get a lot of “oh, you’re leaving early?” Or 4:30 meetings set up, and I’d have to say, “i can’t make that, I have to get my daughter.”

  33. Lizzianna*

    I am also a night owl, who struggles to drag myself in at 9 (the start of our core hours). It’s better now that I have to drop my son off at school at 8, because he can’t be late for that, so I have to get myself out the door and can usually make it to the office shortly after that.

    I have coworkers and members of the team that reports to me that get here closer to 6:30 or 7. When people have commented on my “lateness,” I completely miss the subtext and just cheerfully reply, “Yup, it’s really fortunate that our agency lets us use flex hours! I’m so much more productive later in the afternoon, so it’s nice to be able to align my schedule with that!”

    Just smile and assume, of course this kind of flexibility is a good thing. I also noticed that LW is in a more senior position. I think it’s great when supervisors and senior level people model work/life balance and taking advantage of flexibility. It’s one thing for an organization to say they’re flexible. But if you start a new job and no one is taking advantage of that flexibility, you don’t want to be the first to do so. On the other hand, if you start a new job and you notice that they’re promoting people who come in at 9:30 as well as people who leave at 3:15, that sends the message that they really do mean it when they say core hours are 10-3.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      My office supposedly has flex hours, but really it’s only for early birds. “Core hours” are 10-4, but we have to have all of our staff meetings between 8-10 a.m because of the core hours being service hours. They are really only for the people who wanted to come in at 7 a.m. because my industry is mostly early birds, grrrrrr.

  34. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I added “Standard work hours: 7a-3:30p” to my email signature so people I interact with regularly have an idea of what to expect.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      My supervisor has the that on her signature, plus “I sometimes respond to emails outside standard work hours, please don’t feel that you have to respond outside your standard work hours.”

  35. Empress Matilda*

    My natural hours are about 10:00-6:30, with my peak around 4:00. Which sucked when I had to leave at the dot of 4:45 to get my kids from day care, as I was often just getting started on something interesting when I had to pack up for the day!

    They’re old enough now that they’re not in day care any more, but I still have to use a cattle prod to get my son out of the house in the morning. I can’t leave until I know for sure he’s out the door, because otherwise he would just get distracted and forget. So we both usually leave around 8:45 or so, and it takes an hour to get to the office.

    This would work out perfectly for me – if we had actual flex hours. But like so many other offices, the “flex” hours only apply to early risers. So you can start as early as you want, as long as you have your butt in your seat by 9:00am.

    All this to say, if you have a policy that allows you to work on your own schedule, you should definitely do it. If it’s a problem, you’ll hear about it one way or another. But in the meantime, please keep setting an example for the rest of us indolent libertines (and the people who manage us!)

    1. Indolent Libertine*

      Also, I am officially retiring Empress Matilda as a username, because Indolent Libertine is so much more descriptive!

  36. King Boo*

    It’s great that the company has flexible hours that can work for all. The night owl/morning lark scenarios are well rooted in scientific evidence – circadian rhythm is genetically coded. Many people cannot function in the early morning. As a young career individual, you may still have delayed phase sleep issues as well. This appears in adolescence and persists well into your twenties. Your sleep hormone, melatonin, is not released until later and results in a 2-3 hour delay in sleep onset compared to older adults. There is plenty of documentation out there to support your schedule. It is way more involved than ‘preference’. As per Alison – carry on with pride and in good health. Sleep is a pillar of health, and many people have creative sparks that start much later in the day.

    1. DEJ*

      Piggybacking off the ‘creative sparks’ comment, I work in content creation and for many people the creativity does not always flow between the hours of 9-5 and this is another area where flexibility can be beneficial for your business. If you let a night owl work at night, you’re going to get better content for your business.

      I just explained this concept to my coworker whose daughter is a graphic designer. He couldn’t understand why she was working in the evening recently.

    2. 1LFTW*

      Yes to all of this, and just adding that not everyone “outgrows” this delayed sleep phase. I’m someone who can barely function on a 9-5 schedule no matter what I do. If I sleep from 11 am to 8 am, I will be much less rested and alert than if I sleep from 3 am to 10 am.

      (And if I want a snowball’s chance of actually being asleep by 11 pm? I pretty much have to start turning the lights off in my home by 8 pm. No screens, either, even if I use blue-blocking goggles.)

      1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        My natural sleep schedule, if I have no alarms or anything for like a week, reverts to sleeping 4 am to noon. If I’m lucky it only slides to 3 am to 11 am, but usually it slides later.

        To get up at 8:30 I have to start winding down at midnight, taking sleep aids and getting to sleep between midnight and 1 am. (I take 3 different OTC sleep aids, including melatonin, to try to sleep through the night. I still sometimes wake up at 4 am or 6 am because of noisy neighbors.)

  37. BellyButton*

    Flexible work hours are there to accommodate employees. I had one direct report who has a special needs child. Getting her child up, fed, clothed, out the door, to school, getting herself ready, and arriving to work “on time” was a CHORE. She came in frazzled and didn’t get productive until several hours later. When we finally switched to a flexible core hours she came in at 10 am and was relaxed and able to get right to work. Staying later than most of the other team was great for her because she wasn’t constantly being interrupted after they all left at 4:00.

    The rest of her team was older without kids at home and most came in at 7:00AM. When I heard complaints that the DR above didn’t come until 10:00, I reminded them they used to complain she wasn’t productive for hours when she had to arrive at 8:00 and that this was her preferred working times, and I/the entire leadership team supported it.

    1. Indolent Libertine (formerly Empress Matilda)*

      I had this conversation with a previous boss, so many times. I couldn’t get to work by 9:00 because of day care and public transit, but I could get there pretty reliably by 9:10. So why not just change my hours to 9:15 – 5:15, and make life easier for everybody?

      The answer was “because of the RULES, that’s why not.” So I arrived at work at 9:10 every morning, stressed and frazzled and worried I would get in trouble for being late. And it would take me until at least 9:45 to calm down to the point where I could get any work done.

      If there was room for even a tiny bit of flexibility, I would have arrived at the exact same time, but in a much better frame of mind – and I’d have been able to start work right away. But apparently it was more important for me to be in my seat at a specified time, even if it meant starting my work half an hour later. That was more than ten years ago, and clearly I’m still bitter about it!

      1. BellyButton*


        Once she became my direct report I told her to get there when she could. I truly didn’t care, the rest of the team did, but they were a little gaggle of busy bodies anyway.

  38. Mehitabel*

    I have come up against this issue in the past because A) I am Not A Morning Person, and B) I have almost always had a long, arduous commute to work that was made somewhat less awful if I waited until the tail end of rush hour to leave my house in the morning. I was always respectful of core hours (which were usually the same 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as LW has). And I did catch flack for “sailing in to work” at 9:45-10 a.m. every day. I always pushed back against the complainers. “We have a flexible work time policy that you and I both utilize. You come in early and leave at 3 p.m. every day, because that’s what works for you. I come in later and am always here until 6 or 7, because that’s what works for me. So I really do not see what the problem is here.”

    I also proactively put my regular office hours in my email signature so it’s always out there for the world to see.

    1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

      Are you me? I had the same kind of issue – I needed to avoid rush hour, and the only ways to do that were either come in at 7 am or come in at 10 am. I an also Not A Morning Person and if I have to commute, I try to avoid peak rush hours of 7 am to 9 am. If I leave home at 9 for most office jobs, I can get there between 9:30 and 10. If I try to arrive by 8, I have to leave before 7 am, sometimes closer to 6 am. 10 to 7 works great for me. I am doing 9 to 6 now that I’m remote. I’m still not truly awake before noon.

  39. Imprudence*

    I think it’s interesting how many of us associate getting up early with moral virtue, and think there is something wrong about the habits of night owls. My father gifted me this prejudice, and it was not helpful: even though I am a lark, I am married to an owl, and I have to keep reminding myself of all the benefits — we could box and cox small children at both ends of the day much more easily, for example.
    And historically, hunter-gatherers needed both larks and owls to keep watch all through the night, so it isn’t even as if this is some modern thing that larks need to tolerate owls. The world has always needed them both.
    On a practical note, I do think it helps to have in your email sign off your usual hours, but people you work with will quickly get used to them. It can be a strength for a team to have coverage through a long day: and for the early people to assemble tasks for the later ones, knowing that they will have an answer first thing tomorrow: and you can work a similar way at the other end of the day — I haven’t explained that very well, but my point is, if you have a consistent pattern, people will quickly get used to it and learn to work with it.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Chronotype is a real thing. People naturally vary in what time is best for them to get up and go to sleep. You can shift things some by being disciplined, but there are limits and it’s not necessarily ideal.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Also lark married to owl here — so for good or ill, someone is up and moving around my house from pretty much 6am to 1am every day :P

    3. Your Computer Guy*

      I have struggled every single day of my life with early mornings – infancy, childhood, adolescence, college, working, having children of my own. It is just not how my brain juices flow, and it’s never going to be.

  40. Cat Tree*

    Your last paragraph about setting an example when you have gained capital really resonates with me. I’m taking a sick day today and I am feeling under the weather but it’s a borderline case where I don’t strictly need to take off (I can work remotely as needed to avoid spreading germs). I’ve been feeling a little guilty today because there’s always so much work to do. But it’s really better for me to be off completely and I am setting a good example for junior employees.

    I actually knew I could use a sick day because a few months ago a much higher up took a sick day during a very busy project. I’m glad he set that example for others and I can reinforce that.

  41. Phony Genius*

    If your office doesn’t like the optics of somebody not being available at 9 am, they’ll change the core hours; you don’t have to. That said, where I work, our core hours have practically shifted to be earlier in the day as many employees on a hybrid schedule prefer to come in earlier. (In part due to changes in local traffic patterns.) I used to be in earlier than most, now I’m one of the last to leave. And I haven’t changed my hours.

  42. libmama*

    OP, I’ve been working 9:30 or 10 to 6/6:30/7 for YEARS. It started when we had our first child. I thought our kid should have 8 hour days at daycare (like mom and dad at work), and because both spouse and I had commutes of 45-60 min, this meant we needed to work slightly offset schedules. My husband went to work earlier and handled pickup; I went to work later and handled drop off. I’m also a night owl and mornings are not my friend, while my husband is a morning person. It’s worked for almost 20 years now. Just wanted you to know you’re not alone!

  43. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    Really, really appreciated your final paragraph, Alison.

    There is definitely a puritanical early-morning-person supremacy in our culture and it’s so interesting how it intersects with butts-in-seats office culture. On the other side of things, I briefly worked in multifamily property management (it is Not for me) and the CEO of my company was constantly telling people to be more like me because I was frequently the last person in the office. Of course, I didn’t get there until 10am, but that didn’t seem to matter. Nor did it matter that I spent half of every day writing a novel on my iPad because there wasn’t enough work to do and there was only so much work I could invent for myself.

  44. Modesty Poncho*

    “I also worry about the optics of vendors or partners calling the office for me after 9 am and being told “he’s not in yet.””

    One hour. You flex ONE MEASLEY HOUR outside the standard 9-5. Just because some people like to start at 7 doesn’t make you three hours late, it makes you ONE hour later. Anyone who can’t handle that you shift your time 60 minutes forward can just screw right off.

    Signed, a freelancer who started self-employment to sleep until 11.

    1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      LOL THIS. I love being a petsitter because I rarely have to start before 11:30 am unless I want to. And I pick my walks off WAG carefully. It’s probably the best thing that happened to me, getting fired from my last job; it seems like my best fit has always been petsitting. Granted, I’ll never make the kind of income to have my own place in Chicago, but… well, I also think I’d prefer roommates forever, since I hated it when I did have my own place, too.

  45. nobadcats*

    I get up at Stupid o’Clock. My grand-boss and I had a totally frivolous competition to see which one of us would get to the office first. This was in the Before Times when we still had an office. He had to drive from way far distant suburb, I had to walk about a mile (early, because insomnia).

    But we were both usually first in the office, and expected that we wouldn’t get answers to our questions til around 9 or 10 am. We considered our time during those three or four hours “catch up without interruption” time. At the end of the day we both left around 3 or 4 with clear slates and no guilt.

  46. fgcommenter*

    When you have the capital, it’s a social good to spend some of it challenging people’s norms

    I am signal-boosting this sentence because of how important it is. LetterWriter, if you take one idea from this whole event, let it be that. And good luck getting the norm-obsessed to face the reality that you are not lazy or stupid or wrong!

    Wishing you strength

  47. Lavender*

    This sort of thing bugs me so much. I have a part-time job with very flexible hours: basically I can work whenever I want during operating hours as long as I don’t work more than 20 hours a week. I’m not a morning person at all, so I generally work in the afternoon. My coworker usually arrives right at opening, and has frequently implied that I’m lazy or bad at my job because I get there so much later than she does. (She also prefers to work longer shifts with more days off than I have, while I prefer to come in more frequently but have shorter shifts.) It’s very strange to me, especially since our boss is extremely clear that we can organize our hours however we choose. She can come in later too, if she wants! Ugh, it’s infuriating.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      This is super annoying. Do you feel like you could point out how weird it is that she’s super occupied with your schedule.

  48. Former Retail Lifer*

    I manage an apartment building. I need to be in the office from 10-6 because I deal with the public and those are our posted hours, but I let my maintenance guy work earlier hours. Maintenance typically works 8-5 in our company, but he has a long commute that is just ridiculous during rush hour. He asked to work 7-4 and I said of course. There are occasional optics issues when someone higher up is looking for him after 4 or there’s a last-minute meeting late in the day that he can’t attend, but I know he’s here the appropriate amount of hours. I go to bat for him if someone complains.

  49. Sparkles McFadden*

    Do what works best for you, LW. Complainers gonna complain. They think it keeps the focus off of them and their terrible work. Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t give it a second thought.

    In one of my management positions, I let the staff choose their own start times in just this way. My boss was fine with this as it allowed better coverage. We did the time selections openly and everyone got what they asked for. It worked great…and guess what? One guy complained about everyone else having an “easier schedule” than he did. Coming in early, coming in later, people in different departments with different schedules…it didn’t matter because everything was unfair to him. Some people are just miserable and they try to spread that around.

  50. Jessica Fletcher*

    If possible, it might be nice for people to tell callers “he starts at 10” or “his hours are 10-6” or similar. If there’s a receptionist who generally answers and routes calls, maybe you could try that. If your resentful coworkers are answering the phone, I wouldn’t ask them. They might try harder to make you sound irresponsible.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Or even just say that OP is unavailable at the moment and take a message / transfer to voicemail / suggest e-mailing instead.

  51. Raine*

    This letter is very funny to me because I used to work in an office with flexible hours and I was also the one person who usually used this to sleep in later rather than leave earlier.
    However in my case that worked out for me very well professionally, because the role I was in was required to babysit auditors in the building who usually wanted to stay well past 5 to finish up their tasks.

    The rest of my team usually left by 3:30 and before I got there they’d essentially draw straws to see who got stuck staying late whenever an audit was being conducted. However after I was hired I essentially was just given Auditor Wrangling duty by default, which I was more than happy to do. So my team was happy, the auditors were happy, and on occasion when there was a VP or something working late they’d see me still at my cube and say something complimentary about my work ethic (I never told them I’d arrived two hours later than everyone else though).

    It tickles me a little to see just how much office culture affects that though.

  52. Clippy's Lil Sister*

    I love that folks are openly challenging the early bird/hustle culture. Until this year I’ve never seen anyone outwardly say that there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you like to “sleep in”. It’s not sleeping in. It’s working with and honoring my own body’s needs for rest, sunlight, and activity as well as what works best with my lifestyle. I’m soooo freakin happy that the company I currently work for doesn’t care, and actively understands people have different needs. One year into this role and I feel deeply well rested in general day to day, and it’s done wonders for my personal and professional growth.

  53. Littorally*

    As someone who used to be one of the 7am folks in that same kind of flexible office, you are really not doing anything wrong at all!! In fact, part of the reason I was a 7am person was to get my first hour or two of the day in pure blessed silence. Almost no coworkers around = no fighting for printer time or dealing with people’s noise. It was my favorite part of the day.

    If the people who you think might be side-eyeing you aren’t part of your command structure, you shouldn’t worry too much about what they think. At most, a quick temperature check with your boss during a one-on-one might be a good idea, but as long as your boss is fine with your schedule, you are golden. Work your hours, send emails at 6:30pm when your coworkers have already left, and follow the schedule that’s best for you.

  54. Freddy*

    I suggest you regularly let your manager know how much you value this policy, and how it contributes to your morale and investment in this workplace. In this labor market, managers know how much good employee morale and satisfaction are worth! If this policy is what will keep you at this job for longer, and/or that contributes to your engagement and positive attitude, then it has a business bottom-line impact.

    Making sure your manager knows as much may result in him ‘defending’ your against any grumbling if he ever hears it, and may help him advocate for keeping this policy/culture at the top if anyone ever questions it.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      This is great advice! The company won’t necessarily know how much the staff values policies like this unless you tell them. And you can provide a subtle reminder that you’re working your full hours (and then some, it sounds like).

    2. One HR Opinion*

      Second that “This is great advice”. When our manager left and our VP asked what we would hope to see in a new hire, we said that we definitely wanted someone who was onboard with the flexibility we had. If a new person came in and required butts in seats 8:30-4:30, things would not go well long term.

      Although some people act like flexible schedules and remote working are entitlements, they really aren’t, so I think it makes sense to continue letting management know how important these things are to employee morale and well being.

  55. raida*

    I would suggest a bit of an info session on Work Life Balance.

    Everyone gets a fresh, updated view of what the business offers and how to access and utilise things such as Flex Time, Flexible Work Hours, Employee Assistance Program, Working From Home, etc.

    Have people discuss what their day looks like and show an example of
    – Even if it’s a half hour difference in their leaving time in the afternoon, that can mean a big difference to their home lives/quality of life/ability to earn an income.
    – Having an appointment in the city centre and being able to come in at 7:30, do the appointment 8:30-9:30, comfortably in the office for Core Hours by quarter to 10.
    – Coming in at 9:45, working until 7pm and getting through emails from the day, getting to the shops on the way home when it’s quiet and faster to get through and parking’s easy plus easier traffic on the way in to the office in the morning means I’m not stressed from traffic, I’m not mentally calculating how much time I’ve spent looking for parking or stuck in traffic and how this makes me better at my job.

    if there’s Flex Time, examples of working fifteen minutes extra Mon-Thur and being able to cut Friday an hour short
    if there’s Working From Home, examples of WfH when there’ll be a delivery mid-week and how that doesn’t ‘waste’ a day off nor take up half their Saturday morning
    if there’s an Employee Assistance Program, examples of things-people-often-don’t-realise-it-can-be-used-for, and clarification on what reporting the business gets – no personal info
    if there’s Compressed Hours, examples of someone working longer hours every day and having every second Friday off and why they chose to do that

    Include the value of Core Hours and why the business doesn’t use “8 hours a day each” and not have specified overlaps.

    Include an overview of what a work day is IE 7.25 Hours, of if staff get public holidays off and are they paid, closure periods, the rate at which sick leave and rec leave are accrued.

    We’ve done this a couple of times at work and there are ALWAYS people who didn’t know about something, or didn’t know how to access it, or had an incorrect understanding of it. It’s essentially being fair by ensuring all staff are aware of the rules and policies and what’s available to them.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      When I was in the office in the before times, shifting my work day by 30 minutes allowed me to miss the worst of both rush hours, whether I was using transit or riding my bike.

  56. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Would the complaining coworkers prefer to have to do 9-5, even though they prefer to start and leave earlier? I’m certainly not suggesting you actually say this to anyone – being higher up in the organization means it could be taken as a threat, no matter how you phrase it. This kind of thing super annoys me, though. Your organization has done a nice thing for staff and these jabronis are (inadvertently?) trying to ruin it. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

    Probably the better way to address it, if you choose to, is to ask if there have been any major problems come up because of the hours you work. I wouldn’t consider having to wait a couple hours for a reply to a non-urgent e-mail as a major problem. As Alison said, you’re also not expecting replies from them outside of their usual hours. Hopefully that would clue them into the fact that they’re creating an issue out of nothing.

  57. BellyButton*

    It is so nice to be working for a company that is 100% remote, no one cares when people work. We don’t even have set core hours- we are all adults, we know what we need to do, and who we need to meet with. We all have our time zones in our calendars and on Slack, we can figure out appropriate times to work and meet.

    If someone isn’t performing or if someone is working WAY too much (that is more of a problem at this company than performance issues) we address them directly, we don’t make blanket rules.

    I tell you, it is like heaven after working in a very old school rigid environment for 10 yrs. I had heard about companies like this, but I thought they were just a fantasy like Unicorns and Canada. ;)

  58. EngLady*

    My team works flex hours. At first, it was a bit annoying, but now it makes a ton of sense. We have a 3D printer where it’s good to have someone around to change the print. It’s great, because we have people here from 6am to 6am. And everyone gets quiet hours to sit and concentrate. I actually really like it – I work the later hours (8-4:30), and I love those last 2 hours of silence.

  59. chellie*

    I have an acquaintance who works in a relatively responsible professional job. He teaches an exercise class that takes him out of the office 3 days from 11-1:30. I strive for the confidence with which he says that “exercise is really important to me…I’ve had a schedule like that my whole career…I just don’t let anyone tell me I can’t”. It’s not for everyone, but I admire the confidence with which he approaches it. Probably some white guy privilege there, but I appreciate privilege being used for the good. I haven’t gone quite that far, but since I have started putting exercise in my calendar something “comes up” a lot less often.

  60. WNC Girl*

    I am for flexibility but I don’t think “rank” should be a factor in getting it. My office tried a somewhat different flex system than this a few years before Covid. After awhile it didn’t work too well. If this works for OP’s office fine, but I think it should be the same for everyone regardless of rank or longevity.

    1. Random Bystander*

      Oh definitely … I remember some of the issues with start times and such in the past.

      When I first started (different job, Company A), my hours were 8:00-4:30. It worked very well for me (single mother, getting kids off to school, getting home not too much later than they did).
      Company A got bought out by Company B, and as part of that I started doing a different job. The new-to-me position did not involve taking incoming calls on any sort of regular basis (the only incoming calls would be a return call to a message I’d left, so when I left the message I could say what my hours were). Well, the new grand-boss (who had been head of a different area under Company A) was horrible–she was all about seniority over all and that our core hours were now 8:30-5pm. Now, that half hour shift really messed with my life (including making it impossible for me to continue working the 2nd part-time job) and being unavailable to do things that needed doing with the children while the extra half hour in the morning did nothing for me. But, even though we didn’t take incoming calls, we *had* to have a certain number of people working 8:30-5. In order of seniority, people could choose alternate hours (a significant number seemed to prefer 6-2:30) but I was too “not senior” and was stuck with 8:30-5. Note that there was virtually no turn over–I had calculated that I would have to have 11 years in before I could possibly have enough people with less seniority, while many of these “more senior” co-workers were reaping the benefits at 4 years in. She also insisted that anyone wanting extra days around holidays could be accommodated on a seniority basis only (meaning that the same people would always get the extra days).

      Fortunately, she wasn’t very good at the job (she’d basically gotten it on the basis of her status under Company A) and was strongly encouraged to seek other opportunities. She was not missed. New grand-boss said that was absolutely stupid–that we didn’t take incoming calls and I could immediately return to the 8-4:30 hours. She also had a policy for the extra days that there would have to be half the staff on “skeleton crew” days (the ones around holidays) and the first year extra days were “first come, first serve”. Year two, anyone who had been denied the extra days was automatically on top of the list for approval, and those who had gotten the extra days were behind anyone who hadn’t gotten the extra days the prior year.

      For awhile we had real flex time- we could start any time between 6am and 9am, but weren’t locked into any particular time (so if you had a 7am dentist appointment and usually came in at 8, you could come in at 8:30 that day, just work a half hour later). Then we had to pick a schedule and stick with it–but they also let us opt for 4 10-hr days vs 5 8-hour, we just weren’t allowed to pick Fridays. Mondays were permitted, so I haven’t worked a Monday since.

  61. Good Wolf*

    Oh my goodness; thank you for this. My current situation is so similar to OP’s I could have written this myself, and I’ve also felt inexplicably guilty for coming in a little later, but totally when I’m allowed to! I hate that sleeping in is stigmatized when honestly that’s just when my body needs rest. Thanks again for this wonderful, empowering answer, Allison!

  62. OrigCassandra*

    Hi, OP. I just want to mention that your thought process here is a classic example of “stereotype threat” — the thing where you have individual concerns that worry you or even hamper your best work because you feel like you have to Represent Your Group (in your case, younger employees).

    You don’t have to represent anyone but yourself. You get to be the wonderful, brilliant individual that you are.

    Some (not amazing, but reasonably solid) research indicates that one way out of stereotype threat is reminding yourself of the values that you hold — self-care clearly being one of them!

    This early bird (who likes to get home early) salutes you.

  63. CRS*

    I will say this goes both ways. I worked in an office where people looked down on those of us who left early (even though we started early!)

    1. BellyButton*

      I always felt like I couldn’t leave before my boss, even though I got there 2 hours before she did. I never figured out if that was a me thing reading into her looks or if was really a thing.

    2. CharlieBrown*

      See, and that’s an optics issue on the part of the complainer.

      There is a huge difference between thinking “Oh, there goes CRS, leaving early again” versus “Oh, there goes CRS, she always comes in before the rest of us.” People choose what to focus on.

  64. Spicy Tuna*

    I had a job once that required intense focus and concentration at quarter-end, AND everyone had cubicles. It could be really hard to maintain the focus with general office noise going on around me.

    I am by nature an early bird and start to lose focus once the sun goes down. This particular office was filled with night owls, so everyone preferred to come in late and stay late. I would go in super early, like 5 or 5:30AM to have several hours of absolute silence to get the “focus” part of my work done. Of course, when I would breeze out the door at 5:30 or 6PM, I would get eye rolls, but I always made a point to email stuff to my boss as soon as I got in (this was way before Blackberries and smart phones, so using an actual computer was the only way to email) so she knew I was working. It was never an issue. It also helped that I did a very niche role in the office that NO ONE else wanted to touch with a ten-foot pole.

  65. Not A Manager*

    Tell your reception desk not to say that you’re not in yet. They should say that you are unavailable and that you’ll return the message. A morning lark might well want to get a jump on their work first thing in the morning and not be externally available until after 10 am. Or you might be on another call. It’s unlikely that your vendors or partners will draw any negative inferences from that.

  66. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

    in many places of work there’s going to be people who have slightly different hours than others. If the OP was hourly and their work schedule was 9-6 those same people would have to wait to talk with OP.

    I think it might be that OP is younger or it might just be people who want everyone to do the same thing as them.

    Let it go OP.

  67. nm*

    Don’t change a thing LW! I have flexible hours too and I regularly roll into my office around 10:30.

  68. Designmaster General*

    It works both ways. Like you, I come in around 10ish and stay late (often until 7ish). My boss appreciates that I am there to “put out fires” after 5 pm. I work for a newspaper, so work doesn’t magically stop at 5 pm.

  69. commensally*

    I work mostly 10-6 in a building where most of the staff is 9-5 and my supervisor is often 7:30 0r 8-4. I haven’t had any issues with other staff thinking I’m working late (we were very open about arranging the schedules to best fit everyone’s needs – I wouldn’t assume other people are jealous of your hours; a worrying percentage of you co-workers are actually morning people who would hate the idea – and I was actually asked to work that shift more often to ensure someone would be here from the 5-6 hours.)

    The issue I have had is my supervisor seeing me at 10:30 or 11:00 – when they’ve already been working for three hours – still winding up my “get started on the day” tasks, or seeing me at 4 PM with a good two hours of work left in the day as they’re heading home, and telling me I need to work on my time management/be more focused on getting work done not at the last minute. When I remind them that I work a later shift, they say oh, of course! and then drop it, but six months later we’re back to the same thing, because they’re subconsciously seeing me as always slow getting started on things compared to my coworkers. I get some of that from other coworkers, too, when they comment on how much work I still have to do/how little I have done, and I have to (repeatedly!) point out that I’m an hour behind in my day compared to them. (This was even worse when I was the only one working a 1-9 shift three days a week, and the main reason I asked to spread out the night shifts among other coworkers.)

    I don’t know how to fix this other than coming in earlier again, but it’s worth keeping an eye on as you go.

  70. Indolent Libertine*

    Yeah, the old screen name simply won’t do anymore.

    OP, you keep right on flying your flex flag!

  71. Qwerty*

    I had a coworker like this, so I’m sharing some issues in good faith that happen when one person works a different schedule than most of the team. Check your assumption that your coworkers are resentful of you because they are jealous of your schedule and look for friction that it might be causing (unless you know your coworkers to be very petty). That doesn’t mean your hours are wrong, just there are some side issues to solve so it all moves smoothly. Humans just latch onto the first explanation “OP isn’t here yet” rather than “We need cross training so OP isn’t the bottleneck”

    1. What time are you fully available to your team? If someone realizes they need something from you at 8am and send you an email or IM, what time do you realistically respond by?

    2. Do you tend to have meetings at 10am? Do people have to jump to find you in the narrow window between you arriving and you spending the rest of the day in a conference room?

    3. Are your hours in your signature and calendar? This will reduce the liklihood of vendors calling before 10am (but not eliminate it)

    4. How visible is your evening work? Do coworkers come in the morning to see that you’ve pushed things forward (therefore seeing the benefit of staggered hours) or do they only see the hours that you are physically in the office / responding to messages? Also, do people sometimes work on stuff in the morning and then find out you already did X or last night discovered Y that means they have to redo work?

    5. How often are vendors/partners calling for you before you arrive? If they do, who gets stuck with talking to them? Vendors can be pushy, so if a teammate has to take over, they might feel like they are covering your work for you.

    6. How often does stuff come up in the morning that a senior like you would normally help/advise on but gets pushed to someone else instead? For example, on my team, a lot of code reviews would get submitted first thing in the morning, so I was always stuck with them. Or we had a queue of important stuff from overnight reports or the system didn’t come up properly that morning, the rest of the team was stuck with it.

    7. Does management spontaneously tell people to go home early? Or if there is a work event that starts at 5pm, do you flex your schedule for the day or just stop working an hour-ish early? This turned out to be a big point of contention on our team that was festering subconsiously. Technically it is a management problem but as a senior you have the standing to talk to your supervisor about how to make flex hours more fair. We changed so instead of “hey, it’s 3:30, you can go home early” or “Team event starts at 3pm and counts as work time” it became “hey, everyone only has to work 6hrs today” or “Team event is 2hrs and counts as work time, shift your schedule accordingly”.

    I’ll call my former coworker Derek. He was a dear friend of mine, so this is all said with love. Derek was a huge roadblock. Often there would be a queue of things that needed his attention by the time he came in. Then he’d get pulled into this spontaneous discussion followed by a planned meeting, then everyone is at lunch, and it could be afternoon by the team we all got our questions answered. Cross training did not go well, due to a mix of Derek as a teacher and skill sets of other teammates. As the other senior, I had to cover most of the senior work while he was unavailable, which meant I got the brunt of negativity from teammates when enforcing protocols while he got to skip the hard discussions. Derek was also a wonderful contributor! There were just kinks in the system.

    1. Lily Potter*

      I’m from a state that gets a lot of snowy weather. At my last job, it was not uncommon for management to say “the snow is coming down pretty quickly. Let’s shut the place down a few hours early so that people can drive home in daylight”. Luckily, that was not a “clock watching” organization so it didn’t matter if some people had worked 7:30-2 and others 9:30-2; we all were just glad to hit the road early! But I can see it becoming a problem in a company that “clock watches” and that has busybodies watching everyone else’s comings and goings.

      1. Qwerty*

        The time off was supposed to be a treat and bonus unofficial PTO. Like on a friday before a holiday weekend or as a team “reward”. No one was being a busybody – the people with later schedules were always pretty vocal about how much time they were getting off because they were excited at the “gift”.

  72. higheredadmin*

    I am someone with elementary-school aged kids, and like one of the folks posting above I get up in the am and don’t leave until the kids head to school. I roll into my office anywhere from 9:30am – 10am, and leave late. Thing is, by the time I get to work I’ve been up for hours, just I find it easier to do home stuff in the am as opposed to after work when I’m rushing through dinner/evening. It also gives my brain needed time to wake up and focus. Flex away OP!!

  73. Freddy*

    Two members of my team are on opposite ends of this: one starts at 6 am to get done in time to pick up her kindergartener from school; the other starts at 10 am as part of managing a serious health issue. They are both two of the top performers in our entire company, and a delight to work with, and I figure if this is a major part of what my workplace can do to keep them happy being here, I am more than happy to do so!

  74. Ute*

    needed this today :-)
    as a manager, I come about 1,5 hours after my reports. some of them need the flexibility we provide and also work from 7-3pm due to family obligations. I don’t have kids yet and love staying up late, but I sometimes feel bad that they’ve already worked for 2,5 hours when I arrive. At the same time, I stay 3-4 hours longer than they do – and we get our stuff done in our office hours and use the “margin hours” for deep work and focus.

    Anyway, Alison talking about Use-Your-Capital-To-Normalize-Things is how I try to live it, even though I feel weird towards my reports sometimes..

  75. Wendy*

    I think this depends on factors or the culture of the organization. In my org, those coming in early /leave early are seen as the slackers. Those coming in later who stay later are the ones seen as hard workers. Has always frustrated me!

  76. St Paul Ite*

    If someone has a problem with my work hours they can speak to my boss (and I’ve told them so). My boss has even made periodic reminders in staff meetings that people have different work hours and that’s okay.

    If your departments core hours are 10-3 then as long as your working those core hours and are prepared to handle questions (not spend 10 to 1o:45 each day gossiping/complaining and socializing and then getting angry that someone dare ask you a work related question) and your boss is happy with your work then let your coworkers talk all they want.

    Your coworkers should take any concerns to your boss and boss can remind them yo mind their own business as needed.

    If there is a legitimate concern about your hours not working well from a business standpoint then your boss should address that with you.

    If boss is happy, work is getting done and you’re working your full 8 hours (or whatever is normal for your job then you’ve done all you need to do.

    1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

      Yeah, when I was working 10 am to 7 pm I always made sure to be on time for the 10 am meetings. When the larks headed home at 4 pm I could actually get work done and have it waiting for them at 7 am the next day. After sometimes getting emails from me at 7 pm, they stopped complaining.

  77. in a fog*

    Hold your ground, OP! My set work hours are 10-6, and I’m nearly 20 years into my career. It was tough in the beginning, because I come from a long line of night owls, but once I got more established, it was easier to show that I can still get my job done even if it looks like I’m slacking. At my last gig, the later start time was great for traffic reasons, but when I did have to occasionally come in for 8/8:30 meetings (and I had to give myself 90 minutes to get there), my colleagues truly got a glimpse of how nonfunctional I am in the mornings and didn’t tease me about it ever again, lol.

    Even now, I have a coworker who works 3AM-12PM! And it’s no problem! There are workplaces out there that get it; don’t let this one convince you otherwise.

  78. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I echo all the calls for LW to keep going as they are, but with one tiny caveat…

    I worked somewhere with a 10-4 core, and in particular had a senior colleague who would typically work 9.59am-8pm or later. Now, this would have been unremarkable except that he also had a tendency to ride deadlines right to the wire (he’s the reason I know what precise time of day an official deadline is, on top of having already learned how to calculate which day it falls). So he would regularly be needing to meet a deadline outside core hours on the last possible day, and need other members of the team to do their part when they would otherwise have been going home. As much as we liked working with/for him and liked him personally, this particular habit was Very Uncool and he didn’t realise.

    So the only thing I would ask LW to check is whether their working pattern actually affects anyone else (eg do security have to wait for you to leave, does your assistant have to submit your TPS report in the system when you’ve finished it). If not, proceed with confidence.

  79. Megan*

    I would like to say that if you manage anyone, and you expect them to be in at a specific time, then you should be there at the time you expect them. If you expect people to use the core hours to their advantage then keep doing your thing.

    1. nnn*

      I disagree. If someone’s job requires coverage at a certain hour the manager doesn’t necessarily have to be there at the same time (depending on the needs of each of the 2 jobs).

      1. Dinwar*

        Agreed. It’s not my job to DO the work, it’s my job to MANAGE the work. If I do my job right I don’t need to be there as much as the team. If I need to babysit them the whole time, something is wrong.

  80. Sedna*

    Late flex hours person here – I regularly start my day at 10 or 10:30 am and finish at 6:30 or 7. Many of my coworkers start at 6 or 7 am in the morning instead. One huge advantage for us is that we have extended coverage this way; I’m available for West Coast clients in case of an emergency or question, and they can cover East Coast folks who start early (pretty common in our field). Extending my schedule like this is a huge benefit & a major reason why I’ve stayed at my job.

  81. KatEnigma*

    Don’t underestimate the flak and evil eyes for people who start early and leave early too- when it’s time for the leaving- in offices where the culture is more commonly 10-7 and you’re leaving at 5. My husband is forever having to decline meetings that are scheduled to start at 5:30 and yes, he gets those looks for leaving, even though their core hours are also 10-3. Like with everything else, it all depends on the culture of that office, and standing out against the norm isn’t always accepted as well as it should be. The difference is my husband is Senior and in a key position they can’t afford to lose, even if they were likely to say something. Which they aren’t. As long as the work gets done, is all management cares about. You just have to know when and how to set boundaries if when to be flexible about those meetings scheduled outside of core.

  82. Clisby*

    Absolutely use the flexible-hour policy. I worked for more than 25 years at a company with flextime, and it was very clear: Come to work anytime between 7 and 9 a.m.; you must take at least a 30-minute (unpaid) lunch, but are welcome to take as much as 1.5 hours; work 8 hours.

    So at the earliest, you’d be in at 7 a.m. and the latest leaving time would be 6:30 p.m. (short of some emergency, which didn’t happen often.) This was all stated up-front when I was hired, and was part of my orientation paperwork. Anybody complaining about people *actually following the company policy* would have gotten short shrift.

  83. Late Riser Letter Writer*

    Wow, thank you to Alison and the comment section for the advice and encouragement. Ironically, since writing this letter, I’ve started a new job… with a pretty rigid 8-5 schedule. The change has its ups and downs! In my last role, more flexibility came with more demands on my time, as seems to be typical. I’m back to being hourly and nonexempt, which so far has given me some protection from guilt-based urges to work later and later.

    I particularly appreciate the folks pointing out how this attitude goes both ways, especially for parents picking up kids in the afternoons. On reflection, there was at least as much grumbling about employees who left early. For one person in particular, I’m suddenly remembering the 4:00 “Ugh of COURSE she’s not here when we need her!” comments from her supervisors. She also had many documented performance issues, a habit of bullying coworkers, and a generally sour demeanor, all of which were at least part of the root of their frustration. Still, I’m not sure how I feel about needing to “earn” flex time by being a good team member when it’s explicitly written out as a benefit.

    In any case, my days as an indolent libertine are on pause for now! But I appreciate the encouragement to self-advocate and and build a better culture for all of us.

  84. An Extremely Fresh Start*

    I’m just here to say I love that this answer does not privilege early morning people.

    Look, I love that there are early morning people who are not me who can take care of early needs, but I am not, and am never going to be, one of them. I am willing and happy to take care of later needs. I sometimes come in early to be a team player (for a meeting that others would prefer to have at 8, or because staff have called in and I am covering), but I have systems in place to allow that to work so I can mostly just not.

  85. MAOM7*

    First, appearance is everything. Second, are you sure people are upset with you? Has anyone actually said anything, acted in a passive-aggressive manner, etc.? Make sure you’re not reading what is not there.

    If you are going to work later in the day (which is perfectly fine with your office’s rules/policies), “appearance is everything” is important. Does anyone stay later because they came in later, and see you there working? If not…it may SEEM like you aren’t there. So make sure it’s obvious you’re working after the others have left – sending emails, finishing up reports with an auto-fill in the footer with a time and date when possible, leaving finished papers on a coworkers desk after they are gone, etc. Appearances do matter.

    I’m opposite of you – I’m an early girl, I am often at my desk prior to 6 a.m., and I knock off work at an appropriate 8 hours later. No one has actually said anything to me, but I do feel weird about it, and wonder if people notice/feel cheated. But I’m working the same amount of hours as they are. I go early and leave early to avoid traffic, as I have a tremendous commute.

    1. Late Riser Letter Writer*

      Such a good distinction! I’ve moved on to a new position since writing this letter, but my feelings were definitely both from coworkers and from my own overthinking. One or two coworkers were openly hostile with side comments like “Oh! Nice of you to finally come in!” or “Good afternoon–oh, sorry, I guess it’s still morning for you!” (the biggest offender was just generally mean, as well as underperforming… management looking the other way at her behavior was definitely a factor that pushed me away, but that’s another story)

      Still, I was certainly projecting that judgement to more people than I had any evidence to support. Most importantly, I was imagining it from my actual managers and the people whose opinion of my work actually mattered. Learning to stand my ground probably would have made a lot of things different in that job.

  86. learn*

    NEVER give up your flexible working arrangements because of any type of pressure or encouragement to do so. EVER. You will NOT get them back.

    Put ANY change to your flexible arrangements in writing to your manager and HR, explain what the arrangements were, what they are changing to, and if it is only a temporary change, say that, too, and say when you are returning to them, or that the change is only effective on Mondays, or whatever.

  87. Waving not Drowning*

    I hate work place flexibility that you are not expected to actually use!

    We have some wonderful flexibility on paper (core hours, work from home, flexible work hours, meetings not after 3pm, a week per month were meetings are not supposed to be scheduled, purchasing additional leave) but, it depends on your manager as to whether you are allowed to actually utilize them, even with justification (despite said manager taking advantage of the flexible arrangements offered).

    I have an amazing manager now that I’ve moved teams, and she has no problems with flexibility, so long as we let her know, and that we’re available (either wfh, or in the office) during core hours

  88. Tom*

    Side note: the reason for the “early to bed, early to rise” thing has nothing to do with being “puritanical.” It’s a holdover from pre-electricity days, when it was kind of important to wake up with the sun so you had light to see by so you could get your work done. Now, of course, that’s much less of an issue, but let’s not pretend that this attitude just comes out of morning people being judgy. (I say this as someone who hates waking up before 7:00)

  89. Constable George Crabtree*

    When I first started working in the office at my current job, I learned *very quickly* that it’s totally fine to have a reasonably flexible schedule, take mental health days, or leave a bit early if things were slow by seeing my more veteran colleagues doing so pretty consistently. It took a long time to shake the light anxiety around it, but anybody just Telling me it’s ok wouldn’t have worked the same way as seeing them put their schedules where their mouths were. Model that flexibility!

  90. Boof*

    Selection bias and invisible work; people probably aren’t going to notice when you’re working and they’re not; they’re more likely to notice when they’re working and you’re unavailable for [something they wanted]. That’s ok just sometimes the advantages are invisible while the disadvantages can be more visible! The way to address it is to post your usual working hrs, so early folks know to save the stuff for you until 10 and focus on other things, meanwhile if someone needs something late they know they can look for you! I don’t know if yours is a job with a pool of people doing similar things, but receptionists should hopefully let vendors etc know about core hours and be able to redirect them to someone who could meet their needs if they’re there outside of core hrs.

  91. Time Zones, eh*

    I once had a coworker in a global team whose point of pride was his 6-2 schedule in our european time zone (Paris etc) I worked 9-6 and he would ream me about how lazy I was and how he had done all his stuff before I walked in the door with my coffee and would do stuff like schedule meetings with me at 8am. He had no schedule conflicts like childcare or evening classes, he was just a morning person who attributed some kind of moral high ground to being early. Of course you’re gonna get all your stuff done if no one is there to give you stuff. There was also a receptionist who thought she should work 6-2 as well so he wasn’t alone in thinking front facing doesn’t mean actually facing the front when they’re in.

    Grand boss told him he needed to keep to core hours mainly because our job was front facing but also specifically so the us east coast had more than an hour with him and that if there was a childcare situation or something they could work something out. Grand boss wanted him to do a perfectly reasonable 8-4 or 7:30 to 3:30 to give some overlap with the other « coming in early makes me a morally better person » crew in our office. It is also worth noting he still didn’t do anything for Singapore from 6-8 anyway so it wasn’t like his schedule cut both ways. Nope, he just wanted a quiet morning.

    Furthermore he told him my 9-6 schedule was agreed to by him (again, my grand boss) precisely to have more overlap with the east cost and this despite me having classes at night which meant I was usually only getting home at ten pm so a start before seven was never going to work in my private life as I had in fact scheduled my evening academic commitments to keep suitable hours for the American team. He looped in HR saying that forcing me/guilt tripping me to do stuff before nine am made for unreasonably long days for me and needed to be exceptional (technicians coming in, planned outages).

    Anyway Early Riser got fired for not being able to perform a task with the New York team because he was never there when they were, and that task fell to me despite him having the qualifications and the salary for it. We had the burden of a whole reporting project with the NY team lead being ultimately responsible despite being shorter staffed. I also wound up having a lot of late nights and missing class because I was basically alone from 2 on. So when my New York colleague snapped for the last time, Grand Boss did too.

    I finished classes and still kept my 9-6 hours. I now have a job with a team that is purely in one time zone with core hours of 8 to 5. I like the extra hour in the evenings, and it’s fine. People need to realize that jobs require certain hours and that of course it is quiet at the crack of dawn so yeah you’re gonna work faster but that doesn’t mean you work better if you’re leaving a pile of crap at 2.

  92. londonedit*

    Since Covid we all put our regular working hours in our email signatures where I work – we’ve always had reasonably flexible hours but with WFH and Covid lockdowns my employer instituted proper core hours and we can now request whatever working pattern we want as long as those core hours are met and we work 7.5 hours a day – it has to be a regular pattern, but people do all sorts of different things. It’s helpful when people have their hours in their email signature because then you can get to know that Jane works 7:30-3 and Alice works 10-6:30. Some of the people who work hours that are on those sorts of extremes of the working day will have an OOO message saying ‘Please note my working hours are 7:30am to 3pm’ or whatever, which can also help because it shows up in Outlook when you go to email them. If the OP is able to do something like that, it might reinforce in people’s minds that they’re not just swanning in at 10 and leaving at 5, they’re actually working 10-6.30 or whatever.

  93. Janne*

    There’s a lot of tension around flex hours in my office — I know this comment is late in a list of many comments but I still hope that someone has some advice/tips?

    Basically only the coworkers that have been working here for >5 years have flex hours. All of the full-time people have 36h/week — the “new” people work 8-16:30 with one day off every 2 weeks (and not much say in which day off that will be), but the “old” people come from a time where there were more options, so some work 7:00-15:30, they work 4×9 hours, they have an afternoon off every week or they don’t do the day off every two weeks so that they can save up for a vacation.

    People are especially jealous of the 4×9 and the longer-vacation people. I understand that it would be bad to take away their nice schedules to make it fair. Probably we just need to stop being jealous.

    I asked for the afternoon off every week because I had a standing doctor’s appointment, but that was denied. Fortunately I could do a twice as long appointment every 2 weeks, but it was quite annoying to have to do that while my coworkers just have any schedule that they like.

    By the way, it’s not that you’re allowed to have flex hours as soon as you’ve been working here for 5 years. It’s only the existing >5 year old work contracts that have the possibility of flexible schedules.

  94. Madame Arcati*

    Carry on with pride and people will get used to it; it’s been that way in my work for years and the only hint of resentment was when someone was arriving after core hours.
    If I takes call for someone who is not in yet or already gone, and the caller seems miffed, under certain conditions (it’s someone I work closely with and know their habits, the caller deserves it because they are very important or their feelings must be handled carefully for sone legit reason, and /or info about the colleague’s timing habits may be genuinely useful) I might make a passing positive comment such as, “Wakeen is one of our early birds” or “Tangerina covers a lot of things later in the day”. So that their absence is explained but not excused or presented as requiring ti be excused.

  95. WindmillArms*

    I worked at an office with the same core hours policy, and a lot of coworkers were former military. They all did the earliest possible times, and I did the latest. The “finally decided to roll in!” comments annoyed me to no end, so when they all left at 2pm I’d start up with “knocking off already!?”

    I stuck to my chosen hours, and eventually they let it go when I gave the teasing back.

  96. Bast*

    I understand your struggle from the opposite side. I am a morning person and a very early riser. My work day starts at 7:30 and I typically leave at 4. Our office is quite flexible with hours, and the boss is fine with a start time of anywhere from 7:30 to 9:30. I often receive comments from certain people about how it “must be nice” to “leave early every day.” I will admit it is frustrating, because I put in the same hours (sometimes more, as while I am scheduled to start at 7:30 arriving early is not uncommon for me) as they do. I am sure they would get tired of comments about how “late” they are all the time. If everyone knows what the core hours are, and is arguably free to more or less set their schedule around it, I’m not sure why people need to make such a huge fuss over it.

    As far as optics, I’ve seen a lot of strange schedules since Covid. I’d argue 9:30 to 6 is hardly the strangest. With people working from home/around daycare closures etc, many things that were once odd are not even blinked at. I’ve met people who work Tues thru Sat instead of the standard Mon thru Fri. I’ve met people who work 12 to 8 or 9 to 1 and then break and come back 7 to 10. All of this would have been very odd in my field a few years ago, but post pandemic no one bat’s an eye anymore.

  97. BatManDan*

    Reading all these situations where other people made comments about the scheduling of coworkers that didn’t meet the internal vision of what the commenter expected, the phrase “what an odd thing to say” (delivered in a tone of bemused curiosity) would probably have most of them shutting up and possibly have a few of them reflecting on why they felt the need to say something.

  98. Sans Serif*

    Funny thing, I’ve always experienced the opposite – as someone who has worked 7:00 to 3:30, I’d always hear about someone who was such a hard worker because they were always there until 6 or 6:30. But they were working the same number of hours I was – they just were coming in at 9:30 or 10. I was always the person who “skipped out early” even though no one seemed to notice I was also the first person in the office in the morning.

    Another advantage of working from home – no one knows when you work and no one cares, as long as you get your work done.

  99. WheresMyPen*

    My company has fairly flexible start and end times as long as you’re working the right number of hours a day. I’ve always done 10-6 because I hate mornings and because my bosses also did that when we were in the office, so there wasn’t much point coming in before them when I was new. People are always shocked when I say I don’t start work til 10, even though I’m doing the same hours as someone who’s 9-5. I don’t have kids, I have no reason to get out of bed before 8.30 and I don’t mind working til a bit later in the evening so I’m all for normalising different schedules.

  100. yala*

    As an accommodation, I’ve got a flexible start time of 10 minutes. The odd thing is, though, that folks who just come in at Start-O’clock get to leave 15 minutes before Leave O’Clock, but I make up my flex time after Leave O’Clock, so it often translates to me being in the office ~ an hour a week more than my coworkers…and I know I’m still seen as irresponsible/precious for needing/using the time.

    It’s very frustrating

  101. Nobody Cares What I Think*

    Maybe I’m weird, but I have never cared when coworkers came or left the office. Wish I could say the same for them. One person had it out for me and tattled (yes, appropriate use of the term in this case) to our manager that I was arriving “late”. We were all individual contributors, and our arrival and departure times affected no one else, work-wise. She thought she was virtuous because she came in early, and I was a later arrival (totally permitted because of flex hours and core time) because it worked for me as a single parent, something she had contempt for. The manager “spoke” to me and said he didn’t care about this petty nonsense, I was an excellent employee, smart, capable, and productive, and that’s all that mattered. I used to tell the early folks that when they were home digesting their dinner, I was still in the office. And at the rare times I flexed and came in early, many were reading the paper, eating breakfast, etc.

    I’ll never understand why live and let live is such a hard thing to do. If something isn’t affecting you, why be petty? Work schedules have no morality. Working at home for the win!!! Don’t miss office shenanigans in the least bit.

    OP, I totally agree with Alison, don’t change a thing if it’s working for you. managers should periodically remind folks to mind their own business. You can’t be working and watching other people at the same time.

  102. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

    LW, you say that “I sense that some of my coworkers (whom I “outrank” but do not manage) have a bit of resentment toward my work schedule.” Why do you say that? Has anyone actually said anything? Or are you just worried that they’re *thinking* things? If the latter, please let go of that because you are ascribing feelings to people that they may well not be having at all, which is unfair to them. (And it’s much better for your mental health to trust people to mean what they say without second-guessing them.)

  103. jane's nemesis*

    a form of advocacy for Things That Are Different From The Traditional

    Ooh, I love that my vibrant unicorn hair is actually advocacy! I dye my hair purple because I love it, but also for this reason that Alison just gave but had never been able to put my finger on before! (see also: visible tattoos)

  104. Same boat*

    I was a later person too. Don’t change your schedule . Any day i did come in early and I ended up working a 11 hour day cause I was needed to work what people thought was my normal shift.

    When my manager commented to me that the morning people wanted me there earlier to answer questions I showed unanswered emails from the day prior and said I would like the early morning people to come in later cause they aren’t doing any work in the morning. I never got asked again to come in early.

  105. A Program Manager*

    Hah, that’s so weird that people may be giving someone a hard time for “coming in late” when “late” is 9:30-ish. I work in tech and most of the engineers work 9:30 – 5:30 or 10 – 6 or even later. I’m the weirdo that prefers to come in around 7 because my commute is horrible, and I have definitely had people say comments like “Don’t you feel like you’re missing out when you leave at 3pm?” (Answer: No. Not in the slightest.) It just depends on your environment, I guess! But yes, either way, point remains that as long as boss is happy with your work and you’re not breaking rules, you do you!

    I also love the comment about “if you are in a position of power, use it to challenge tradition.” I’m a senior ranking employee and I wear my pink hair, casual dress, and year-round sandals (sorry not sorry about that one) with pride.

  106. Fez Knots*

    Uhg, the work hours thing. THANK YOU ALLISON for supporting a work schedule that best fits your lifestyle.

    My last job worked in EST hours, so as a PST employee I had to start my day (and my meetings) right at 8 AM to best work with the team. It was hell. I’m so much more productive in the afternoons and evenings and not having that flexibility was so frustrating.

    Yet so was watching employees who worked at 6 or 7 AM do things like send emails at 5 AM… The same way I’ve always been judged for “working late” is how I judge people who work super early. Sending an email at 5 AM when your workday starts at 6, like, what’s happening here? It’s been helpful to remind myself that this has more to do with my own insecurities around being perceived as lazy for working a later schedule and I need to relax and let people do what they want to do.

    Even if its send an email at 5 AM. Just kidding. Sort of. Work in progress…

  107. MAC*

    This reminds me of a long ago conversation with my grandma. She was a classic “early to bed, early to rise” type. I was (in my youth), an extreme night owl. She was chiding me (*mostly* good-naturedly) for “wasting the day” sleeping and I pointed out (respectfully) that her 8pm-4am sleep schedule didn’t waste any more time than my 1am-9am approach. It’s possibly the only time I saw her at a loss for a comeback!

  108. Mothman*

    You’re not their manager and therefore owe them nothing. Being in a senior position doesn’t mean you’re obligated to assist them to the detriment of your preferred schedule and, chances are without you realizing it, productivity.

    If your manager ever says you no longer get your flex hours–a promised benefit!–ask for a raise.

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