can I negotiate a later schedule before accepting a job?

A reader writes:

Are hours ever negotiable? I’m in the late stages of interviewing for what I honestly think is my dream job: I love the team, the manager, the work, everything about it, and the salary is a huge step up from what I’m making now. But I am leaning towards turning it down for one and only one reason: the role would start work, in-office, at 8 am every day.

I am NOT a morning person. Even if I go to bed quite early, I almost never wake up naturally before 10-11 am, and that has been consistent my entire life. I’ve worked remote 9-5s most of my career, and waking up right at 9 is already a struggle that leaves me groggy the entire morning. (I did a brief stint in a part-time evening job and it was the healthiest and most well rested I have ever felt in my life.) My biological clock just does not like an early-morning job. I am quite skeptical that I’d be able to last in a role that requires me to consistently wake up at 6:30-7 am regardless of how great everything else about it was.

Is a later start time something I could potentially negotiate for if I got an offer? If so, how should I phrase the request? The early start is such a major dealbreaker for me that I’d be willing to give up some salary or PTO days in order to bump it a few hours later.

Context in case it’s helpful: this IS a role and an industry where mornings are much busier than afternoons. However, 8 a.m. is not necessarily busier than, say, 10:30 a.m. in most offices.

In theory, yes, sometimes you can negotiate a later start time.

In reality, I don’t know how realistic it is with this specific job. If the mornings are busier than the afternoon, you’re talking about not being there for two or more hours of the busiest period every day. Without knowing more about the work, it’s hard to say how much that would matter. But if it would mean other people would need to cover for you or clients or colleagues wouldn’t get answers as quickly as they’d normally expect them … it’s likely to be an issue.

That said, if the start time is a deal-breaker for you, then you have nothing to lose by asking. Even if they agree, though, I’d be somewhat worried about the ramifications once you’re on the job — like whether colleagues will resent you or the employer will decide the schedule isn’t suited to the work at some point after you’ve already started.

There’s also the frustratingly puritanical thing about how people judge later-than-average schedules differently than they judge earlier-than-average ones, as if you’re a lazy layabout who lacks work ethic rather than someone whose internal clock is simply set differently. (For some reason, people who go to sleep earlier are never viewed as lazy, even though they’re doing the exact thing at midnight that you’re judged for doing at 9 am.)

But if you decide to try it, can you plausibly describe your sleep situation as a “sleep disorder”? I’m not suggesting you claim a sleep disorder if you don’t have one, but it sounds like you actually might meet the criteria for one. If so, you could use language like, “I have a sleep disorder that affects my ability to wake up in the mornings. Would it be possible to work a schedule of [fill in details of your desired schedule]?” If they have concerns about how well that would work for this job, they can raise them at that point, and you can talk about whether there’s a realistic way to make the job work for both of you.

{ 316 comments… read them below }

  1. Introvert girl*

    Yes, you can, depending on the type of job. When I worked an e-commerce job that had flexible hours (start between 7-10) we had one woman working 12:00-20:00 each day. Now I work a job that doesn’t have this kind of flexibility because it’s a completely different industry.

    1. Beth*

      The “depending on the type of job” piece is big here. In a job where you work largely independently or where work is asynchronous, this probably is negotiable. In a job that often has busy evenings, it might even be a plus! But the role OP’s considering has busy hours, and they’re in the morning. I do think that makes this less negotiable–convincing someone that they should hire you, but they don’t need you to be around for the busiest hours of the day, is likely to be an uphill battle.

        1. Lydia*

          I’m not sure it’s a certainty, but it’s definitely something the OP should consider as a possibility.

        2. JSPA*

          Or OP will be successful enough, because they are working their more efficient hours, that it’ll be a non-issue.

          And in any case… you can’t advance at a job if you don’t even take the job. Nor can you advance at a job if you get injured trying to drive in before you’re fully awake. Nor can you advance if your work sucks because you are groggy and sleep deprived.

          (We’ve had long presentations here in the past on the range of genetically controlled circadian variants. If the letter writer feels that this is in the realm of inevitability, and not in the realm of “just try harder, and you’ll eventually manage,” it behooves us to accept that.)

          As the letter writer is already willing to lose the job if they have to start at the normal start time, there’s not a lot to be lost in asking for a later start time.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I wonder if OP could offer to be available via email starting at 8 even if they don’t come into the office until 10 (depends on their commute being short)? It sounds like you’ve been able to survive a 9AM start if you’re remote, so maybe being able to roll out of bed and log in / check email from bed, rather than having to get up and dressed and commute before working could be a compromise. That plus noting that you’ll be available if there’s an actual early meeting scheduled or whatever – at least you’d be cutting down on the number of days you’ll be expected to be at your desk by 8 (and I find employers often overestimate how often things come up if something has always been done a certain way – this gives them the reassurance that you’ll be flexible). Maybe once you’ve been there a couple months you can see if there’s evening tasks you could take on in return for making it 9AM remote, down the road.

        1. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

          That’s also worked well for me. I usually do my first round of emails before I leave the house, so I’m responsive a bit earlier in the day. I also recognize that working the kind of flexible hours I prefer means that I need to be more available by text than some people might prefer — it’s a trade-off I’m willing to make.

        2. Oregonbird*

          It’s a good idea for a sleep preference, but the OP seems to be sure about their inability to effectively game their sleep requirements. Being up just to respond coherently to emails is being up – which would leave them working in a near-fugue state.

          I think presenting this as a health condition might be the way to go for now. Perhaps the OP might find that getting a doctor involved might even help them move their intractable sleep schedule.

        3. Reluctant Mezzo*

          My problem was that I was asked actual questions about thing around 7:30 am by my dawn patrol boss who expected me to be awake enough to give reasonable answers. Um, no. Now, at 3 pm I was cheerful and burning through stuff like mad while she faded, but that was *different*. Was happy to work for a different boss with a 9-6 shift instead.

      2. Bear Expert*

        I think if they can be absolutely ON when they show up at 9 and figure out how to pull some tasks aside for the late part of the day where they are there after people, they can make it work and be seen as valuable. If the morning shift arrives to materials being prepped and they can just start in a way that they hadn’t been used to, or if there are things they can drop while they’re busy that just get handled by the late afternoon magic fairy, they will love having a late shift cover.

        (And if you get that working smoothly, and show the value of “I use the end of the day hour to finish up all of the X process and set up Y and Z. Now that I’m doing everyone’s X, it’s taking more than an hour. Would it make sense for me to come in at 10 and do more prep and process work in the afternoon?”)

        But its going to be a process of being Very Visibly Useful, not just “hey, I’m going to come in while you’re in the middle of the rush, that’s cool right?”

        1. Young worker*

          dependent on the job I imagine. In my job it would stand out if one staff member took on easy prep work (if we even have any of that) consistently as opposed to doing the full range of tasks they were hired for

      3. Denise*

        I don’t agree. I don’t think starting a job with “health problems” is a way to go. In fact, for employers, it’s a red flag. You would be better off saying I take a class at 830, or i have kids (doesn’t have to be yours) to get to school. Yes, it may not be true, but better than talking about a disorder, health probs, etc. If you want the job, do what you need to to get it. But health probs is not the reason u want.

    2. Msd*

      I would be very concerned that if the hiring manager agreed to let me have a later start time that after a couple of months they would say it wasn’t working and I had to be there at 8. If nothing else I suspect other employees would be grumpy that the someone with the least seniority has a later start time.

      1. I like cheese*

        There is that risk, but if it’s that or not taking the job, might be worth the risk. As a morning person myself, I would be grateful our employer recognizes not everyone is chipper at 8 am and interpret that as “the organization cares about our sleep health” regardless of seniority.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I wish you luck with that. So many companies have ‘dawn patrols run the Board and think everyone else are slackers’.

    3. Jaina Solo*

      This for sure–industry is such a big component to whether or not they can/will consider that accommodation. I also think that if OP’s working for a global company which may want someone to liaise with people on the other side of the world, that could work in their favor too.

    4. Reluctant Mezzo*

      The OP might consider work in the medical world–swing shift is a thing in that industry (though not in the offices). Working 3 to 11 was the happiest I ever was in the work world.

  2. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

    I did it. I started at this job a year ago and negotiated a later start time. My office’s general hours are 8:30-4:30, but I come in any time between 10 and 12 most days, unless I have meetings or other events where I need to be in earlier. For me, there were a few key points.

    1) I work in an industry where there’s a lot of activity in the evenings (performing arts), so even though my position isn’t directly tied to all of that activity, things are still happening, and the idea of “artist hours” is well-known;

    2) my position is reasonably independent. I work with a lot of people, but don’t necessarily have to cross paths with them physically or be in the office at the same time in order to do my job well;

    3) the job description listed “occasional evenings and weekends,” and I asked if I could expand the “evenings” part of that;

    4) I’d just come from another position where I’d worked that way for 10 years, so my references could speak to my work ethic and the ways that this kind of schedule worked in that job.

    I sympathize. A lot! I’m not a morning person, and I’m happier, healthier, and more satisfied with my job when I can work on a schedule that suits my body and its rhythms. I set an alarm very infrequently and am so grateful that I have the flexibility to do that. When I started this job, I wasn’t desperate to leave my old job, and this would have honestly been a deal-breaker for me, so I did have that leverage in my negotiations. I told my now-manager, “I’ll be an excellent team member; just not at 8:30 in the morning.”

    Good luck!

    1. Zelda*

      ” the job description listed “occasional evenings and weekends,” and I asked if I could expand the “evenings” part of that”

      This is key. They probably have a lot of people look at “occasional evenings” and say “oh gawwwd, do I have to?” So having a team member whose reaction is “Yes please!” is likely a significant mark in your favor for this particular environment.

    2. Random Dice*

      I suspect an actual diagnosis would help get this as a formal accommodation. Talk to your doctor!

      1. Kit*

        The diagnosis is likely to be Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder – working with a doctor to get it formally diagnosed and establish viable accommodations is your best bet.

      2. ArtsNerd*

        Yes, I have a later start time as a formal ADA Accommodation! A specific diagnosis isn’t legally necessary so long as you have your doctor’s buy-in, but you might have to push back against an HR department that overreaches on what info they’re requesting.

    3. RedinSC*

      I had a similar experience. But I work in fundraising. The office officially opened at 8am. For me to be there during peak traffic could have taken upwards of 1.5 hours. So I asked for a 10am start time, where it took me 45 minutes. AND no one wants to talk with a fundraiser before 10am anyway.

      Plus my work had so many evenings and weekend events, too. If a donor wanted a breakfast meeting, of course I’d do that, but my official hours were 10 -7. Worked great for me because I am also not a morning person.

  3. Caramel & Cheddar*

    I know this particular job is in-office, but I would kill for some sort of job board that posts remote jobs for opposite coasters trying to accommodate their sleep schedule, i.e. west coast jobs for remote people on the east coast who are not morning people, and vice versa for people who love waking up early.

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      When trying to hire for remote 2nd shift coverage for an east coast job, I convinced the recruiter to set the hiring city for the job boards as our LA office in order to get the opportunity in front of more people, because sometimes filters be weird. We ended up getting tons of great interest!

      Personally, the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been was when I worked 2nd shift. I have a career now where thats not possible, and HAVE to be up at 4:30 every day, and its awful. I sleep until noon Saturday and Sunday because I’m so exhausted from the week.

      I think being aware of that for myself has helped me avoid the judgement Alison alludes to in her reply. For example, I noticed that I had an employee who was perpetually late, and was able to talk her into making her tardiness a ‘planned schedule’ and team her up with an employee who is a morning bird. Now my department has better coverage hours, she is more productive in the hours she is here, and everyone is happy.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        My department director is a morning person and I definitely encountered a judgmental bias against my late starts. I make a point of talking about how great it is that I can offer coverage for all the urgent things that crop up that have us scrambling into the evening.

    2. Beth*

      I was thinking this too! I’m a west coaster working remotely with a lot of east-coast colleagues and clients, and while my work hours are a little later than east coast standard, I’ve skewed them early enough to catch a lot of their work day. I’ve loved being done with my work day by midafternoon–it makes me feel like I have so much time in the evenings! If OP is on the east coast and could find a west-coast-time role–making their standard work hours like 11am to 7pm their time–that could solve their problem neatly.

      1. Julie B*

        Same here. I am remote and officially start at 7:00 PT, but will start earlier if there’s an important meeting. It’s so nice to end earlier in the day, and to actually have time in the afternoon without meetings after the east coast folks are done for the day!

      2. lindyhopper*

        I agree. I work on a team where being available for clients in all time zones is important. I work 7am-3pm and while I still kind of hate being logged on or in the office by 7am every day, I LOVE being done at 3 and getting all my errands done before 9-5ers are out and about. I have a colleague who works 12pm-8pm on our same team, and she loves it because she can take her kids to school every morning and do all her errands without her kids in tow before she even starts her work day.

        I work with east coast clients and she works with west coast clients and it works really well for us. I highly recommend considering a setup like this for OP if they are in a line of work where being available during certain hours is important.

      3. Reluctant Mezzo*

        If the OP lives on the West Coast, finding a company with offices in Hawaii or even further west could be helpful.

    3. Cmdrshprd*

      “some sort of job board that posts remote jobs for opposite coasters ”

      I know it is not quite what you want, but I think you can do this with most job boards.

      You can set job search parameters/filters for “remote” and your “opposite coast locations/states.” I know those would be 100% if companies misrepresented that status of the job. but unless the new job board proactively vetted job postings you would have the same/similar issues with a coastal job board.

      There are likely state specific job board you could use.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        You could definitely do this, I just thought having one specifically for workplaces that would be open to that arrangement vs ones that meet the criteria on paper but maybe not in reality would help narrow the options down considerably.

        1. raktajino*

          Are there job boards for “truly remote” jobs? Maybe there’s a filter setting enhancement to be made on those…

    4. Barefoot Librarian*

      This is such good advice. I have a similar delayed sleep cycle. I worked in education for decades and had to be at work anywhere between 6:45am and 8am. It was rough. I left academia and took a remote job with a company two time zones west of me and it was the best thing I ever did. I start about 10am now, which is 8am company time. It means I can be a morning person during their morning and just have to work a bit later my time (which I don’t mind at all). Win-win!

      1. Sloanicota*

        It would be funny if you became known as so “virtuous” since you’re logging in at 8AM every day, and got all the credit of being an early bird, when in fact you just happen to live in a different time zone! It really goes to show that we’re putting too much stock in something that isn’t necessarily intrinsically virtuous.

      2. Alter_ego*

        I remember telling my boss about how I wish I could shift my schedule to be 10-7, instead of 8-5, and that I was happy to work later, and he was like yeah, but then you don’t have time to do x y z activity after work. Could not wrap his brain around the fact that I would just do those things…later than him? Like yeah, if I work until 7, I can’t eat dinner at 6. But I can eat it at 8? What you’ve done is such a smart idea, if I ever change jobs, I’ll have to think about applying to companies on the west coast.

        1. Gretta Swathmore*

          People like him probably fall asleep on the couch at 8:30 pm :-). Probably can’t grasp that you would be awake until midnight or later!

        2. Christine*

          My husband is a symphony musician. Dinner (or at least a post-concert snack) regularly happens between 10-11 pm.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            In Italy, I understand that the evening meal can be 10 pm. Of course, that includes early rising and a siesta–if you can’t nap, um nope.

      3. Manglement Survivor*

        I used to work a six hour daily shift at my job. Due to uncontrolled sleep apnea at that time, I woke up with so much brain fog that I could not function at 8 AM. I also have a delayed sleep cycle and typically go to bed quite late. I ended up getting an ADA accommodation at work to allow me to work from either 10 to 4 or 11 to 5. Things went so much better after that!

    5. Medium Sized Manager*

      Working asynchronously to the main office is so wonderful for getting work done, so I fully support this idea. I am in Eastern time while the majority of our leadership team is in Pacific, which means that I have the luxury of a) starting my day slowly and b) using the morning to really focus without being interrupted. My manager is also a wonderful human who declines any meeting after 5 PM on my behalf, so I have the evenings to play catch up if and only if I choose to work late.

    6. cheeks*

      i love this idea!! whatever sleep disorder OP has, I do too. Waking up early mornings is so difficult for me, but I’m wide awake at midnight. But I did actually get a west coast remote job as an east coaster and it’s been an absolute life saver for me! I love having mornings to ease out of bed and don’t mind working from 11-7 most days. and I’m always on top of things now so it’s a win win win.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        I strongly recommend talking to your doctor! There are a few different things could be causing it. Just a different internal clock or delayed sleep phase disorder are pretty neutral in and of themselves, but there might be something like sleep apnea contributing to it, which can have harmful effects to your health over time.

    7. raktajino*

      My team is all west coast except for one east coaster. She appreciates having more freedom to go to the gym and other appointments in the morning, and doesn’t mind working later in the evening.

      Our job listing never said anything about time zones. Maybe next time we should mention it as a potential perk!

      1. raktajino*

        (I should say, my company does have an expectation of “core hours” but it’s all local time. She’s only required to overlap until 2pm her time.)

    8. Orv*

      I’ve found a lot of companies won’t hire remote workers outside their home states, for tax reasons.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There was a letter here where the letter-writer has Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder:
      “when should I tell an interviewer I need disability accommodations?” from March 21, 2023

      I recommend reading that as well as the health care website, because sometimes it’s helpful to read someone’s first-hand, first-person experiences. The letter-writer also supplied additional information in the comments section, with the commenting name “OP_NightOwl”

      1. catlady*

        I saw in the comments that OP_NightOwl said they were planning to send an update in a year… and that’s now-ish… I cannot wait!!

    2. Prefer My Pets*

      I was going to say the same thing.
      I have delayed sleep phase, though I usually simply say I have “a circadian rhythm disorder that doctors are unable to do anything about”. I have a maxi-flex schedule where I must work core hours of 10-2 but otherwise can work whatever hours I prefer.
      There is also a medication (modafinil) available now that is for treating narcolepsy & shift workers, but is also prescribed off-label for circadian rhythm issues and ADHD…I have recently started on it & it is a game changer. Even without insurance it’s under $20/month.
      Good luck!

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I was going to comment here if someone else hadn’t already that if OP has the means, they should talk to their doctor about their sleep issues. When I mentioned to my doc three years ago at my annual checkup that I was tired all day and waking up several times at night, she had me see a sleep specialist. I don’t have an official diagnosis of delayed phase sleep disorder but I’m fairly certain that’s what I have (I just call it insomnia). I started taking trazodone, which is used off-label as a light sedative, and I am not exaggerating when I say it is a life-changer. Now, of course, medications don’t always work or the person taking them might experience undesirable side-effects, so I can’t at all say that this would fix OP’s issues, but just talking to a medical professional about the situation couldn’t hurt. I had thought when I mentioned to my doctor my issues that there wasn’t a thing medical science could do about it but lo and behold, there was. (And I’d sought other medical advice over the years, too, which was part of why I didn’t think anything could be done. Medicine changes, y’all!)

        Added to which I’m now being treated for ADHD as well and now for the very first time in my life I am extremely well-rested, energetic, and have turned into a morning person. If you had asked me or anyone who knew me three years ago if I’d ever be a morning person we all would have said “Definitely not.”

        Anyway, my point being…OP, please, if you can, see a doctor about this. Even if all you get is a diagnosis and no treatment options, that might still be a very helpful thing to know about yourself. Best of luck!

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Also meant to add: as someone who has been a night owl and is now (weirdly) a morning person, I too have been quite frustrated at “how people judge later-than-average schedules differently than they judge earlier-than-average ones.” Not only are we judged for sleeping later in the morning, but we also tend to be judged for being less energetic overall because we are being forced to exist in a world created for people whose sleep phases are more in line with daylight hours. I was exhausted for all of high school, was late to class more times than I could count, and when I got to college I managed my schedule such that I rarely if ever had class before 10 a.m. It was the best thing ever.

        1. RedinSC*

          Yeah, college… I had to drop or I would have failed any classes that started before 10am too. It was problematic. It’s so hard to fit into a morning world when you’re not a morning person.

    3. Melicious*

      Yes, my family also has experience with DSPD. It’s notoriously untreatable. It’s diagnosable by a psychiatrist.

    4. Orv*

      The question is whether it’s worth being diagnosed with something if there’s no effective treatment.

      1. Verity Kindle*

        Even having a doctor to say ‘this person isn’t just lazy, this is a legitimate medical thing’ is massively helpful when seeking accommodations.

    5. OP*

      OP here! I’m like 100% sure I have delayed sleep phase disorder, but I’ve also been unconvinced of the value of seeing a doctor since there doesn’t seem to be any sort of cure. I do take melatonin on occasions when I need to go to bed early, and it gets me to sleep early but it still doesn’t generally make waking up early pleasant.

      1. Not a morning person*

        Light therapy and melatonin can help shift your circadian rhythm. When I saw a sleep specialist, they set me up with a schedule of when to take melatonin and when to use a light therapy box. It helped me shift my schedule by a couple hours.

      2. Properlike*

        This is why I can’t teach high school. I tried for a year, and walking up at 6am NEVER got easier, no matter how early I went to bed the night before. Like you, I am very awake at midnight. Good luck with this!

        1. Productivity Pigeon*

          I was a high school exchange student in the US and school started 7.08AM.

          All my life, people have told me that if I had to wake up early, my body would adapt.

          Nope. Getting up at 5.30 was as difficult on the last day of the year as it was on the first.

      3. cchrissyy*

        in that case, i think the bess path is asking for medical accommodation, and i think that increases the value of going through official diagnosis.

        also, it is possible the medical process discovers more than one issue, just as an example, say you had sleep apnea as well, and the apnea is treatable even if the sleep phase disorder was not.

        1. Avery*

          Yep. I don’t have DSPD as far as I know, but I do have idiopathic hypersomnia, and between that and being from a family of night owls, OP’s post rings true to me as well–when you’re a night owl who needs 9-12 hours of sleep at night, getting a job where you have to be on-site at 8 AM is NOT an option!
          And while it’s not as simple of a fix as sleep apnea, idiopathic hypersomnia also has medication options available, a mix of which has helped me cut down that sleep time from about 12 hours a night to closer to 9 on average plus actually feeling awake long enough during the day to hold down a full-time job, albeit one with some flexibility about the hours.
          Definitely have the docs look into it, OP. Maybe what you have is more treatable than you think. And even if not, having that diagnosis can be helpful for formal accommodations.

      4. sdog*

        I think the value of seeing a doctor would be to document the condition so that you can request work accommodations. I like Alison’s advice, but if an employee were to tell me that they had a sleep disorder, I would ask to see documentation that supports the need for the requested schedule.

      5. PK*

        Also chiming in to be another commenter to look into a medical diagnosis if you think you would be interested in pursuing formal ADA accommodations. It’s possible that a job that technically, theoretically would have the flexibility to allow you to start later wouldn’t let you if you just ask for a later start time. But if you formally request ADA accommodations, they have to have a good business hardship reason to deny you some kind of accommodation – it can’t just be “we don’t like it that you’d start later than everyone else”

        I’m not trying to insinuate the process of getting a medical diagnosis is cheap or easy, and depending on the company, ADA accommodation negotiations can be stressful and sometimes discouraging. But the legal option is there for you should you decide it’s worth pursuing given that, as you mentioned, there’s not many effective long term treatments, but most employers will ask for a doctor to attest to your limitations, the degree they affect your life/work and what accommodations they recommend.

  4. CC*

    Have you tried looking for remote jobs in a different time zone that align with your preferred working hours?

    1. RT*

      That could be a good suggestion but it’s notoriously difficult to get a remote job in a different state depending on if the company already does business there. Worth looking into for OP but probably not something to bank on

  5. CheesePlease*

    One thing to consider is how much collaboration is required in this role and how frequent meetings would be. If you’re not available for meetings before 10:30am but the whole team is there at 8am, they are potentially losing out on 2hrs of productivity waiting for you. Just like if you need to host a meeting and nobody is available after 4pm, even though you work until 6:30pm

    1. Delta Delta*

      Or if it’s a client-focused job, and where OP would need to be available to clients beginning at 8 a.m.

    2. Night Owl*

      One way that I managed this is when I asked for the later start time, I made it clear that I would come in earlier for meetings or when there was a business reason to be in the office earlier. It’s much easier for me to come in at 8 once with advance notice, versus coming in at 8 am every day.

      1. Snowflake worker*

        That makes no sense – obviously you would know that you were expected to come in every day at 8 if that was your schedule. I’d be livid if I got stuck with someone on my team who wasn’t working the hours that were most busy for us, and I certainly wouldn’t go the extra mile to get them promotion opportunities.

        1. Cqrit*

          The point is the difference between a one-off or seldom experienced lack of sleep versus chronic sleep deprivation.

        2. Moira's Rose's Garden*

          Then working on your team wouldn’t make sense for someone in the OPs position. It sounds like a new potential hire who asked if it would be possible to work a staggered shift would be told no. Especially if your workflow wasn’t the kind where it would be an advantage to have a team member who could extend your work day later.

          In my role, I’ve negotiated something similar to Night Owl. I can come in for early scheduled meetings. I can take Zoom meetings fairly early too. But I work staggered hours on site, which in this environment works well as OT doesn’t have to be paid if something is scheduled in the evenings, as frequently happens to accommodate US west coast hours with collaborators.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yup. This job is pretty much incompatible with OP’s needs.

            There’s no shame in that at all, but it just means they have to move on.

        3. Miette*

          Perhaps dial down the snark and have an open mind and some kindness towards other people’s situations?

          I have an opposite problem to OP and very much sympathize. I am very much a morning person and was in an industry where working late was more valued (high tech), or at least gave one the appearance of being a hard worker. I had negotiated an earlier start time so I could leave early and reduce my commuting time (a difference of an hour each way), so my hours were technically 8:00-4:00, though I typically arrived at work at 6 or 7. My schedule was clear to my team and my colleagues, who would try not to schedule meetings after 4:00, which I very much appreciated. But at least once per week, as I was heading out I’d hear someone (invariably a sales person) comment, “Taking a half day, har-har?” and I’d have to laugh it off. One day I snapped and said, “No, me taking a half day would mean leaving at 10am, which is when I noticed you showed up today? I’ve put in 10 hours today, how about you?”

        4. Esmae*

          Night Owl specifically said it’s easier to come in at 8 once with advance notice. It’s doing it every day, with the accumulating lack of sleep, that’s a problem. Their set-up isn’t going to work in every office, but it does make sense as an accommodation for delayed sleep phase insomnia.

      2. Cqrit*

        Yes – that worked well for me. I could do it with advance notice for key meetings, presentations, conferences, etc. The rest of the time I could actually work when I could do my best work (which requires a ton of focus and technical ability) and not be always sleep deprived.

        I was also almost always able to take the late meetings, in Europe and Asia, where my colleagues were struggling and I could really shine. It was especially great because I could demonstrate the awesomeness of the team they’d get working with us to new and potential clients (west coast consulting business).

        I am *so* over the silly, self-centered judginess about later circadian clock types from those with their (abnormal? freakish? unable to guard the camp at night and thus not like to survive alone?) early circadian clocks. It needs all of us in a global economy.

        1. GythaOgden*

          It’s not judginess in this case. It’s that there’s actually work to be done at 8am and as Dust Bunny says, presumably when OP would be at her most alert, nothing to be done.

          An employer is trying to get someone in to do a job they have that needs done. OP is trying to get a job that fits their natural needs. No-one’s judging, it’s just that the OP and her prospective boss would be way too far apart for it to be practical to employ her.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, this.

      Where I work, there isn’t enough work after “normal” business hours to justify moving someone’s shift back that much. You’d essentially be asking to work part-time.

  6. juliebulie*

    I have delayed sleep phase disorder. Fortunately I work remotely, so I get a very helpful extra hour of sleep (my commute would be about an hour). I seriously haven’t had a great night’s sleep in my life, and first thing in the morning I’m as dumb as a box of hair.

    1. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Have you been checked for sleep apnea? I’m on CPAP and though I don’t feel I sleep deeply, I still wake up feeling better.

  7. Ann O'Nemity*

    Has the LW already asked about flexible scheduling? Usually companies have some sort of policy on it – whether it’s offered or not, if there are “core” hour requirements, etc. That’s where I’d start the conversation.

  8. Pizza Rat*

    Definitely ask about what flexibility in hours they can offer, but don’t mention taking less of a salary to do so. If you’ve been working a later schedule in your most recent position bring that up. Maybe tell them if there were important meetings on the schedule in the early hours you could make those.

    I am not a morning person either. Fortunately, my organization allows me to set the hours as long as I come in between 7:00 and 10:00. It’s been a real blessing.

    I have no idea why it’s so much easier for me to get in at 9:30 than it is at 9:00. Brains are weird.

    Later schedules don’t mean we’re not working!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      In larger cities, arriving at 9.30 rather than 9am can make an additional 30 minutes’ difference to your commute time. That is, you have to leave home at 8am to arrive at 9am, but 9am to arrive at 9.30.

      1. alex*

        Came here to say the same thing about a commute. I live and work in a midsized city and traffic can be a nightmare. Leaving 20 minutes earlier or later can definitely make a difference. At my old job, I and a few others would often wait to leave until around 5:15-5:20. The difference in traffic levels was extremely noticeable.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah, I used to have to go past a high school at drop off time in the morning. It would take like ten minutes to go a block.

        When I shifted my start time back I missed that drop off time and got to work faster. I’m sure there were other schools that had started by that time as well, so fewer buses and parents on the road, meaning traffic was lighter overall.

      3. Zephy*

        100%. I work a later-shifted schedule (11-8) for part of the week – there isn’t *really* a business case for our office being open as late as it is, but leadership thinks there is, and right now it works better for me than the alternative (9-6), so whatever. If there’s no traffic (or uh…cops LMAO) and I hit all the green lights, I can get from home to work or vice versa in 20 minutes. 30-35 minutes is more typical, but on days when I do have to be in at 8, my commute is closer to 50-60 minutes, especially during the schoolyear.

  9. Lacey*

    Some jobs it absolutely won’t make a difference. I work a job with normal office hours, but one of the departments I work with have very flexible hours. Because of the type of work we do & the fact that most deadlines are squishy, it’s fine to work this way.

    But. I used to work a job that had a lot of hard deadlines & I had a coworker with an off-set schedule. It was a nightmare. I didn’t want to be annoyed with her, bc she was offsetting her schedule to pick up her kids from school & I want to support women being mom & being in the workforce.

    But my goodness, I hated her schedule.

    1. Enn Pee*

      I worked in a regular 9-5 place but a coworker “worked” from 7-3. (I say “worked” because the times I came in early, she was working out rather than working…but that’s another story for another day!)
      She switched to supporting a different customer group, one that regularly expected support after 3pm. “They can wait ’til tomorrow” was her feeling…which isn’t really how our support model worked.
      So, what that meant is that other people regularly covered her because she wasn’t around when her customers actually needed her.
      If mornings are a busy time for this particular industry, especially if the expectation is an immediate response, I’m not sure if they’d accommodate a request for a different time. Certainly in my workplace, it caused a bit of resentment that someone had been given a job and yet wasn’t around at times when she was needed.

  10. Morning Person*

    This so industry dependent! In my industry, 6:30-7am is normal and 8am would be a late start, even for office personnel. Everyone starts finishing up by 3:30-4pm. Having someone start at 10:30 means they are missing almost half the day when everyone else is around and wouldn’t be a permanent option.

    1. Armchair analyst*

      Also location-dependent
      When I worked at a law firm in New York City, you were late after 10 am
      9 am was expected but most big meetings started at 10
      8 am was ridiculous

      Obviously my friends who are public school teachers have it very different- my elementary schoolers start at 7:40 am and my high schooler starts at 8:15 but likes to go early for course sessions that start at 7!

      1. Area Woman*

        Yes for some reason in the Midwest everyone seems to work 8-4:30ish and align with the East Coast’s 9-530. It’s odd but it also like, lines up with TV and sports? So everyone’s just shifted. It’s silly but somehow still goes on.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      Workplace dependent also. My old job if I came in at 8:35 I’d get some dirty looks from my boss. One of the VPs would get mad if he walked around at 8:00 and didn’t see people working (who were hourly and started at 8:30). And our end time was 4:45 but people who left that early were seen as slackers.

      My current job is now remote but when I worked in the office I remember telling my boss it was a pain to get up early and be there by 8:30 (I had a long commute which is part of why I’m remote now) and she told me to feel free to come in at 9 or 9:30 and stay later. Since my husband worked until 6 or 6:30 there was no point to me getting home earlier and waiting for him.

  11. DE*

    I work where our “core hours” are 9-3:30 and the expectation is that you are in the office for that time, and you work your 40 hours during the week. HOWEVER, we are also extremely flexible and people basically come and go as they please. One of my team members often doesn’t arrive until 10 or 11am and it really isn’t an issue. Some workplaces are extremely flexible, but you never really know until you ask, unless it’s framed as “everyone comes in at exactly 8 and works until 5” or whatever.

    1. Tiger Snake*

      Mine is similar. You’re allowed to negotiate with your manager to work sometime between 7am and 7pm each day, so long as you are there for the core hours.

      Core hours and the flexibility for start and end time on either side of them tends to work quite well for bigger organisations with lots of different types of roles. Some people work in the office but start at 9, leave at 3:30 to pick up their kids, and then do the missing two hours 5-7 from home. Some people have to travel to our clients as part of their work, so the 7am start and 7pm finish let them accommodate client schedules and avoid as much traffic as possible while still being able to work with the rest of us.

      1. londonedit*

        We have the same. Core hours are 10-3, but you can negotiate a schedule with your manager where you can do anything from 7-3 to 10-6. Most people do 9-5 but I do 8.30-4.30, and there are people who do 8-4 or 10-6 too.

  12. Goldenrod*

    Even though I’m very much a morning person, I sympathize! My mom is very much a night person, and I watched her struggle to get to her early morning job for most of her career. When she was in Spain, she loved the culture, with an afternoon siesta and everyone staying up later.

  13. Turtlewings*

    I would definitely present it as a medical need, as it sounds like it absolutely is. Best of luck, LW!

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thinking the same. Do you have a physician who could document it if needed for an official work accommodation?

  14. Malarkey01*

    If anyone wants the history of why we prize early risers over late nighters- it’s because for all of human existence except the last 100 years we were gathers, and farmers and the only real working hours were sunlit hours before electricity. Someone who slept in literally slept the work hours away and in communal living weren’t contributing. We did take more naps- lots of naps.

    Our brain and body are hard wired to bias morning people and a mere 100 years of evolution isn’t enough to override that. Thank you for attending my TED talk :)

    1. Night Owl*

      Except that even then there was work that needed to be done after dark – standing guard so that the morning people could sleep in, for example.

      1. purpleprose*

        And if you go even further back, at one time we’d have been the ones keeping watch over the cave at night so the others weren’t slaughtered by a sabre-toothed tiger while they slept. :-)

      2. Point de Croix*

        If I’m not mistaken there’s a theory that suggests this might be the reason teenagers often have wonky sleep schedules – it basically means you have physically fit people available to stand guard while the adults sleep. It teaches them independence but also keeps them close to people who can be woken up to solve big issues if necessary.

        1. Massive Dynamic*

          That is a really cool theory! I love basing differences this way instead of something that’s “wrong” with teens.

        2. Properlike*

          I’d read it’s actually the grandparents, which is the reason for wonky insomnia and shallow sleep after a certain age. From an evolutionary perspective, those who slept lightly would be awakened by danger and could warn the others.

    2. Frank Doyle*

      I get your point, but I think that “100 years” is overstating it a bit. There was indoor lighting well before electricity. Everyone was not going to bed at sundown up until 1923.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        But until not too long before that, interior light was candles and dodgy gas lamps, and while you can theoretically read, sew, etc. with that kind of lighting it’s rough on your eyes. Candles were relatively expensive for a very long time so you didn’t burn them unless you really needed them.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Gas lighting wasn’t invented until after 1800. Dunno when it became widespread, but it was only available in cities-gas was plumbed in. So the rural majority (most people were farmers until very recently) did not have it, and I bet the majority of urban dwellers were too poor to afford it either. So easy lighting was a luxury for a fairly small percentage of the population.

        Before gas lighting, candles were available but they aren’t that good at making light and they are also expensive. You could go for cheaper tallow instead of expensive beeswax, but then it smoked and smelled bad.

        Light was a luxury.

        1. I'm just here for the cats!*

          there were gas lanterns and candles though. I have some of my grandma’s gas lanterns and those can set off a lot of light if you have the mirrors and such.

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            If we are talking about the last couple of hundred years, yes. Gas is a petroleum product (originally from coal), the mantle (fancy wick that glows really bright) is about 130 years old, and even mirrors are affordable and good because of the Industrial Revolution. Very recent on the scale of human existence.

            Candles and oil lamps are ancient but not that great. Just imagine a candle lit dinner, and all the dim shadows. People switched to gas and then electric lighting because they were awesome compared to previous options.

      3. Turquoisecow*

        Even in ancient times there was indoor lighting and work to be done inside. Weaving, sewing, spinning – a lot of women’s days – even upper class women – was spent spinning, which doesn’t need a lot of light and is absolutely productive and important work.

      4. I'm just here for the cats!*

        yeah more like 1000 years. It also has to do with the class you are in. You can see this in a lot of different literature. For example, in one of Emily Dickenson novels (I think Pride and Prejudice) there was a bit where the character was already up and dressed but walked to someones house a few miles away and the lady of the house was just having breakfast.

        1. Tiger Snake*

          That wasn’t to do with light and classism though. It was to do with “being hip”.

          The time when Emily Dickenson was alive and writing, it was seen as trendy to stay up late at extravagant parties and then sleep in the next morning. The closer to lunch you had your breakfast, the cooler and trendier you were seen to be. Its why brunch became as a trend we have it even now.

          There was classism to it of course, because only a certain class of people could afford to sleep in like that. But the story wasn’t telling us the protagonist was in a different class to her friends – they were telling us she wasn’t in the trendy, popular crowd. “She wasn’t like other girls”.

        2. Non non non all the way home*

          Jane Austen wrote ‘Pride and Prejudice’, along with ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Emma’.

          Emily Dickinson was a poet who, during her lifetime, saw only 10 of her poems published.

          Whenever I misremember something it shows me how information is filed in my brain. In this case, I suspect “Emma” and “Emily” are next to each other in your brain’s file on “Famous Women in Literature”.

          Thank you for attending my English literature and Science of Memory lecture.

        3. londonedit*

          If you mean the bit in Pride & Prejudice where Elizabeth walks over to Netherfield, that’s because her sister Jane is ill, so Jane’s in bed and having breakfast when she arrives. The point of that episode is that Elizabeth doesn’t care about social norms because she just wants to see her sister – and the Bingley sisters are scandalised to see Elizabeth arriving with her cheeks flushed and her skirt and boots muddied, because polite well-bred ladies absolutely did not go tramping about the countryside and walking miles across fields. It’s another way of showing that Elizabeth doesn’t fit in with the upper-class world of Darcy and Bingley – but also a way of showing that she really doesn’t care about that.

    3. Matt*

      As an “early bird” I still can’t confirm this experience. For decades I was the only early starter in a “late” culture, and always the one who groaned at late meetings or being already gone when people called at 17 pm and getting frowns for. The ones staying late were the perceived high performers. At some places it’s the early butt in seat, at other places it’s the late butt in seat, and probably there are also some with always butt in seat.

    4. Stipes*

      Before even farming, someone needed to keep the fire going all night. Variety of sleep tendencies is built into us for a reason.

      1. Willow Pillow*

        Grain farming also comes with more steps in food preparation – bakers still tend to start their days in the wee hours of the morning!

    5. gmg22*

      There’s also evidence from historical narratives, old diaries etc, to suggest that before the Industrial Revolution many people traditionally slept in two segments: the first one starting not long after sundown and lasting until around midnight-1 am, then a period of wakefulness used for a variety of pursuits (including the one you’d think, teehee), then a “second sleep.” Some researchers suspect that this is a factor in sleep disorders now — “go to bed and lie there peacefully snoozing for exactly 8 straight hours” wasn’t actually how our ancestors slept, either.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I’ve heard this before, but am sceptical. ‘Awake for an hour at midnight’ sounds lovely under the full moon on a warm Tuscan night in July, but significantly less pleasant on a moonless freezing Norse night in January when the fire was banked hours ago. I guess if you stay in bed under the warm covers (and maybe indulge in a bit of exercise) it would be ok. But no way I’d get out from under the warm blankets until it’s time to get dressed.

        1. New Mom (of 1 7/9)*

          I think part of the theory is that you’d be up *because* you need to re-fuel/stoke the fire to keep warm!

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            I might dash out of bed to tend the fire and put more wood on, but then I’m dashing back to my nice warm bed. Definitely not staying up by the fire to write poetry or think deep thoughts.

            Also, I don’t have a source for this, but my impression is that people from the past used to bank their fires- cover them with ashes so that they were barely smoldering. That way they are safer, don’t waste fuel, and don’t require tending.

        2. Not Australian*

          I’m a biphasic sleeper, although it goes in cycles and the details have fluctuated a lot over the years. I tend to find that actually getting up in the middle of the night, having something to eat and drink, and pursuing some quiet task such as reading or sewing, is better for me than just staying in bed hoping to fall asleep again. I’ve set myself a hard limit of ninety minutes, and then when I return to bed after that I usually fall asleep very quickly. The way this works out, I get roughly 7.5 hours of sleep a night on average. I’ll freely confess that I’m only on my own schedule as I’m retired, but I’ve been doing this for almost fifty years so it also covered the majority of my working career: it’s very much a YMMV scenario. I have at least one other friend who operates on a similar timetable, and another who is an extreme ‘lark’ and is generally up and working well before 5 a.m. I personally can’t stay in bed a single minute after 6 a.m., even when I’m on holiday!

        3. Suz*

          But on that January night in Norway, it would be dark by 3pm so you’d already have 7 hours of sleep by midnight.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        I have heard this referred to as “biphasic sleep”. It would explain a lot of my sleep patterns over the years.

        1. Ginger Cat Lady*

          Yep. It’s my daughter to a T. Because of my profession, I often get asked what age my kids started sleeping through the night. She’s 27 years old and hasn’t done it regularly yet.
          That’s not what new parents want to hear, lol.

    6. Flor*

      Do you have sources for this? I find a lot of the arguments about daylight hours like this fail to account for the fact that in many parts of the world, the discrepancy between summer and winter sunlight hours is significant. Where I come from, the days are nearly 20 hours long at high summer, a crucial time in the farming calendar; it honestly doesn’t matter if you’re a morning or evening person at that point because you’re going to be up for 20 hours to harvest your crops either way.

      Plus in the spring farmers would often be up all night long with labouring cows or ewes; this is probably easier for night owls, though I don’t think it matters that much if you have to be up in the morning to milk your other cows anyway.

      1. Sharon*

        In extreme northern (or southern climes) you tend to wear yourself out trying to get everything done in the summer and then get extended rest in the winter. And the “extended rest” period is missing in modern life because we have lighting so we can have 18 hour days year round.

        1. Flor*

          Yeah, that’s why I’m a bit sceptical about the idea that any chronotype is evolutionarily better for farming, because AFAIK there isn’t a chronotype that’s dawn-to-dusk year-round. And there have been farmers in these extreme areas for thousands of years; Skara Brae in Orkney (where it’s still light out at midnight in summer and dark till after 9 in December) dates to about 3200 BCE.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      Also, dinosaurs were known to forage and hunt early, before the sun got too hot in the sky. So if you were a late sleeper, your chances of being killed by a dinosaur were much higher, so fewer of those genes have been passed down.

        1. Hrodvitnir*

          I think (hope) this person is joking. Though tbf some dinosaurs and humans still overlap!

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Not so much dinosaurs but that sort of hunting time is definitely common to predators – dawn and dusk when light is lower but prey is still out and foraging.

    8. Yeah nah*

      With respect, Malarkey01, this is…not accurate. And I say this as someone who comes from many generations of farmers.

  15. Not a morning person*

    I have delayed sleep phase disorder, and your description of your experiences sounds so much like mine. I’d highly recommend going to a sleep specialist to get diagnosed.

    In a past job, I requested a later start time as an accommodation for my sleep disorder, and got that approved easily. It was an industry where hours generally don’t matter, though. My team just had to schedule meetings later in the day; otherwise it didn’t make a difference. It might be harder in an industry where mornings are actually busier.

    In my current job, I haven’t had to bring up the sleep disorder at all because hours are flexible for everyone.

  16. vox*

    unless the business need readily works with flexible/late start hours, i wouldn’t ask for an accommodation. and asking for a medical accommodation (which is what claiming a disorder is) when you don’t have a medical issue is lying and unethical on the face of it. ‘not a morning person” is not a disease or disability. as an employer, i’d view this kind of question as an indicator that the applicant is high maintenance. much like finding out a potential date is a vegan… it doesn’t make them a bad person, it doesn’t make them wrong… it just makes them a hassle to deal with and high maintenance. and there are plenty of applicants (and dates) out there who aren’t picky and dramatic.

    1. scooby*

      what a small-minded take this is. there are plenty of dates and workplaces that are more than happy to accommodate a vegan or someone who operates differently from the norm because they value their contribution. dating and interviewing are both efforts to find the right fit on both sides. (not to mention that the suggestion isn’t to lie about a sleep disorder but to look into the possibility that OP does have one, even if it’s as yet undiagnosed.)

    2. purpleprose*

      Picky and dramatic? Wow. Depending on how bad LW’s issues are, they could indeed constitute a medical condition that requires accommodation (in fact to me, it sounds like they do.) Those of us who struggle to sleep and wake on a conventional schedule aren’t being picky or dramatic, we’re simply not geared around the same biological norms as the rest of us and the constant uphill struggle to meet these norms is problematic for all sorts of reasons. Name-calling is neither constructive nor helpful.

      1. M2*

        I agree with this but don’t claim it is a disorder unless it is one. Someone on my team did this and HR requires documentation when you ask for accommodation and they ask for it quickly I think within 24-48 hours or at least initial stuff. The person didn’t have it because they had not got any diagnosis from a doctor yet.

        I would much rather someone tell me they have a sleep issue and try to work with them then lie about having a disorder. It is about judgment and if you lie about that what else will you lie about?

        Where I work we have some people come in latest 10, the actual top person comes in around 10:30-11, but they work very late. My team has some morning meetings, but also nights and weekend work so I try to be as flexible with everyone as we can be and people seem to appreciate it and work better because they are being treated like… adults.

        I would be fine with someone coming in at 10 or possibly 10:30, but they would have to get their work done. I probably couldn’t allow after that time period, as I have some people who work from 8-4 so there would need to be core hours. I have someone now who has to leave/go offline if WFH by 3PM a few days a week. Issue is, they aren’t getting their work done and not logging back on later, so that will be taken away shortly. Spoken to them about it, but they are taking advantage and it is a pattern of a few other issues (it is not an accommodation just a family thing).

        Some offices if its really busy in the morning you will have to be on, so it probably depends on what you are doing. Does not hurt to ask! Good luck!

        1. KC*

          I agree, I was a little surprised about this piece of advice. I don’t recommend claiming a sleep disorder unless it’s been diagnosed for exactly the reasons outlined here. Certainly, many people have thought they had a disorder but have been unable to get diagnosed, and this puts the LW in a difficult spot if HR asks for documentation for making an accommodation.

    3. 2001 called and wants its vegan joke back*

      It could also be an indicator that the employee is self aware enough to know what schedule works for them and wants to be fully productive during a flexed schedule. I agree that framing this as “medical” or a “disorder” might not be the way to go, but your take is a pretty big stretch and projects a lot onto all employers.

    4. LippyTappyTooTa*

      I agree about not lying, but I’m sure there are all kinds of issues that would make mornings challenging or difficult for people.

      I’m not sure I follow the “high maintenance” part, either. Presumably, if the company/industry allows flexible working hours, the employee is maintaining their own schedule based on whatever the agreement was when hired. The work product and the schedule are two different components of management for all employees, so it shouldn’t take any more or less maintenance to hold a new employee to whatever the agreement is.

    5. emmelemm*

      Hmmm. Not only did you find a way to be judgemental about the letter writer, you managed to drag vegans into it somehow.

        1. Moonstone*

          Being super judgmental of others has never been admired. Being that way comes across as picky and dramatic to me.

        2. SarahKay*

          Having *good* judgement is usually considered something to be admired. There’s a big difference between that and simply being judgemental.
          There’s also a difference between not having a formal diagnosis for something and lying about having that thing at all. Accusing someone as lying sure comes across as judgemental rather than good judgement.

          1. Verity Kindle*

            There’s also a way of framing this that references the possibility of a medical issue without claiming a diagnosis, like ‘I’m in the process of being investigated for x’ or ‘I meet the criteria for x disorder and am in the process of being diagnosed’. Some of the comments on this thread don’t acknowledge that the diagnostic process for issues like these can take months or even years, but the patient will still benefit from accommodations while the process is ongoing.

    6. Jennifer Strange*

      First, there are potential medical accommodations at play here (referenced above). Even if the LW doesn’t have a medical issue, asking for a later start time is not the same as asking for a medical accommodation, it’s just asking for flexibility. To be clear, if the employer were to deny it I don’t think they would be in the wrong (depending on the reasoning), but the LW isn’t in the wrong to ask either.

      Also, I think you’ve got a pretty skewed idea of the world. Calling someone picky and dramatic because of their personal preference actually make you sound picky and dramatic.

    7. Lucia Pacciola*

      “I have trouble getting up in the morning, can I have a later start time?” is just going to cause epic eyerolls from the hiring manager, and almost certainly knock you out of consideration.

      Just negotiate for a later start time. It’s a desirable thing in itself, you don’t have to come up with a tragic backstory for why you need it. Either it’s something they’re willing to consider, or it isn’t (it probably isn’t, but no harm asking – as long as you don’t make it about not being able to get up in time for a morning start).

      If you want to go the medical issue route, I’d recommend getting a diagnosis first, and then approaching the question in the context of reasonable ADA accommodations. If they don’t think the job can be done on a shifted schedule for ADA reasons, they’re certainly not going to think it can be done for a hardcore late riser who doesn’t have a diagnosis.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            Lucia Pacciola mentioned a tragic backstory in the second paragraph of their comment:

            Just negotiate for a later start time. It’s a desirable thing in itself, you don’t have to come up with a tragic backstory for why you need it.

    8. Bast*

      I don’t know; it’s becoming increasingly common for companies to have “core hours” and allow some sort of flexibility with the start and end time, even if some companies are more flexible than others. Depending on the role, we were able to afford some degree of flexibility to most roles, but it was more difficult for others. In hiring a receptionist for an office that is open 9 to 5, we really preferred someone open to working 9 to 5, but we had bent a little for great candidates due to (usually) childcare issues, as covering the desk for an extra half an hour usually didn’t put anyone out too bad. For paralegals and attorneys, we wanted people to generally be available 9 to 3, but you could flex around that and exceptions could be made.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Your example of “core hours” sort of makes the point about coming in early being seen as preferable to staying late – most people are 9 to 5 but you’ll allow flexibility as long as they’re there from 9 to 3? That’s flexible only in one direction!

        1. Bast*

          True enough, but exceptions could be made and sometimes were, depending on the reason. My point was more to the above poster that people asking to work different hours is not unusual and not a “burden” as they seem to put it. That poster seemed to have a very “butts in seats from 9 to 5” attitude with anything else being a burden.

        2. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

          Yeah, exactly. If the primary office hours are 9-5, I would expect “core” hours to be 11-3. Allow a couple of hours of flex in either direction; otherwise, there’s really nothing flexible about it.

          1. Bast*

            In the offices I have worked in, this would not make sense. 11 for a receptionist when the office officially opens at 9 would be too much of a gap where everyone else has to cover the phones (which are busy in the morning). 11 for an attorney would mean missing court and sometimes you can’t avoid an early morning depo if it’s when opposing counsel is available. You can’t really tell the judge you don’t feel like showing up that early.

            1. Bast*

              And I know this is industry specific, but there really are some industries where you can have some degree of flexibility, but not a crazy amount — and it seems like the company LW may be in such in industry based on the “busy mornings” comment.

          2. LWH*

            In the US this is also going to heavily depend on if your company works across the country (or even internationally) and what time zone you are in. I live on the east coast and support people on the west coast, there’s no way I could start work super early because nobody on the west coast would start early enough for me to ever help them, but I could get away with working later because they can wait until I get started to reach out. I’d assume the opposite for west coast. In my job it only makes sense for hours to be flexible in one direction.

      2. Lucia Pacciola*

        LW says, “the role would start work, in-office, at 8 am every day.”

        To me, that doesn’t really sound like a core hours with flexible start and end times. To me, that sounds like this job, on this team, starts at 8 am every day. Now, if LW took the job, they might realize right away that there’s more flexibility than it sounds like, and that a more flexible work schedule can be easily acquired as an unofficial privilege once the LW has made a good first impression on the team. But trying to negotiate for a more relaxed start time is probably not going to make that good first impression.

    9. Observer*

      and asking for a medical accommodation (which is what claiming a disorder is) when you don’t have a medical issue is lying and unethical on the face of it. ‘not a morning person” is not a disease or disability.

      You are actually factually wrong about this. What the LW describes is in fact a disorder. It’s not that they are not chipper in the morning -they literally don’t get the rest they need.

      But, LW, this is a perfect example of one of the reasons why I said that you will be better off with documentation from a doctor.

    10. Salty Caramel*

      I find myself wondering if you’d consider any request for a medical accommodation a hassle to deal with.

      And why bring vegans into it? While you said they weren’t bad people, you also sound pretty judgmental.

    11. AMH*

      As an employee, having a manager who would “view this kind of question as an indicator that the applicant is high maintenance.” would be an indicator that the manager is not someone I’d want to work for.

      1. Lucia Pacciola*

        I mean, “I have trouble getting up in the morning, can I just come in later instead?” does come across as kind of extra. A candidate who has a medical diagnosis, and is asking for a reasonable ADA accommodation, would be fine with me. A candidate who is asking for a late start privilege because they suffer from night-owlitis or are wakeup disabled would risk knocking themselves out of the running.

        And yes, that’s what it sounds like, without the diagnosis. And yes, if you don’t want to work with me because that’s how I read the request, that’s fine with me. I wish you the best of luck finding your employer soulmate.

        1. AMH*

          So just because someone asks a question — to be clear, I’m not saying argue or plead or demand, simply ask, you’d consider them extra and possibly not consider them as a candidate? I mean, again, props for showing your hand and I’ll happily look elsewhere, as you said.

          1. Lucia Pacciola*

            For me, it’s about how the question is asked.

            “I’d prefer to have a later start and end time, is that negotiable?” is fine with me.

            “I have a medical condition X, here’s the doctor’s recommendation, can we talk about accommodation?” is fine with me.

            “I struggle to get up in the mornings, can I just come in later instead?” makes me think, yeah, we all struggle with that, and we all get to work on time anyway; are you sure you’re ready for full-time work?

    12. Massive Dynamic*

      “it just makes them a hassle to deal with and high maintenance”

      Bodies are human and we all get what we get, including yours, and all of our bodies are wired differently and change over time whether we like it or not. ADA accommodations exist to attempt to stamp out discrimination where a disability doesn’t stop a job from getting done (with the right accommodations in place.)

    13. Cqrit*

      You might find it helpful to read some of the other “night owl” commenters on this thread, and potentially inform yourself about delayed sleep disorder/delayed sleep phase syndrome before acting on that take and leaving your company open to a very justifiable compliance inquiry and potential legal implications.

      A quick google of those terms would provide you a bevy of reputable sources and a google scholar search would give you peer-reviewed research studies for more in depth information.

    14. Cat Tree*

      I disagree. It benefits my employer to focus on the business needs more than any trivial aspect of being “high maintenance”. And absolutely, there are jobs at my company that require strict early start times. But for the jobs that don’t have a true business need for that, we would be needlessly reducing our candidate pool by caring about that. A larger candidate pool increases our chances of finding top performers.

      If you care less about hiring top talent and more about having a workplace that is passively uniform, then I guess that would matter more.

    15. Verity Kindle*

      There has been a time when every invisible disability has been dismissed as laziness or a ‘tragic backstory’. Then after scientific research and a public awareness campaign, we’ve realised these ‘picky and dramatic’ people were actually suffering something out of the ordinary. At the moment it’s socially acceptable to judge the experience OP describes as a moral failing, but that will likely change as we understand these conditions better. So I think it’s only fair to give OP the benefit of the doubt that their condition is serious, medical, and not a personal flaw. The fact that you don’t recognise a condition as a disability does not mean it is not disabling.

  17. Problem!*

    You can ask but depending on the job they may say no.

    One of the things I find interesting/infuriating about modern working culture is it’s generally seen as acceptable and even praised if someone gets to the office and starts working at 6 AM when they don’t actually need to be there until 8, and it’s fine when they leave at 2 PM and are unavailable for the last few hours of the working day. But heaven forbid should someone reverse that and decide to start work at 10 AM and leave two hours later in the evening. Both people are unavailable for the same amount of time during the day, but if someone complains about the early starter being unavailable in the afternoon it’s met with an “oh well better get here early to catch them!” but the late starter gets admonished for throwing off the team for not being available first thing. It’s the same thing!!

    1. Bast*

      I got a lot of flack about “must be nice” to leave early when I would leave at 3:30, despite the fact that I had been there usually since 7 (and frequently would still be going home and replying to emails). We had core hours of 9 to 3, so others were also free to work my same schedule is they wanted, but they did not want to.

      I can see why in some industries this may be a problem and it seems like in LW’s case it may be. If they are busy in the mornings, and OP is missing 2-2.5 hours of the busiest part of the day, I can see where it could be problematic. If it really didn’t matter and mornings and afternoons were both the same amount of busy, I’d agree with you.

    2. Shiara*

      I totally understand that you’re speaking from your own experience, but I really don’t think that’s especially general.

      I’ve encountered much more praise for the people who stay late, no matter how inefficient their work or long a lunch they took, while the person who negotiated an early work schedule for commute and childcare purposes was judged severely for leaving at 3, even though she was there two hours before everyone else.

    3. Kyrielle*

      A few years back, coworker, about noon (this was not a job that needed any overlap at all except for specific tasks/working groups, and in fact we all now can work remotely if we wish): “Where is X? He’s so late.”

      Me, blinking: “Well, when I got here at 6:30 he was just leaving. He pulled an all-nighter to get the build fixed, I think.”

      And, thus, X didn’t have to face any questions when he rolled it about 2 pm. Which was ridiculously early, in context.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      I always find these discussions so interesting, because I have never worked in an office culture like that. It has always been seen as “working harder” if you are there later into the evening, and no one notices if you are there early or have logged on early.

      Like Bast says, I’ve seen a lot of “must be nice!” aimed at people leaving even at 5pm, in a presumably 9-5 office.

      This is in large cities in the northeast, including NYC.

    5. JustaTech*

      I saw this first hand in the weirdest way on my team a few years ago. We had two people who started around the same time, Christina and Bob.

      Christina worked 36 hours as a medical accommodation, and got in absurdly early -partly as a consequence of her medical condition. She was a very strict clock watcher in that she made absolutely sure she worked at least her 36 hours every week and was never under.

      Bob lives farther away and clearly has a very different sleep/work schedule. I don’t know that he had it formally approved by his boss, but we all realized very quickly that you shouldn’t expect to see Bob before noon. With one exception this wasn’t an issue, because he worked on different projects from the rest of us. (The one thing he missed was minor and I was able to do it in like 10 minutes, but oh Christina was mad about it!)

      So Christina would get in at like 6am, and leave at noon or 2pm, and have very little overlap with Bob, who would come in at noon and stay until at least 7, plus whatever email checking he did before he came in or after he went home (he sent at lot of 3am emails).

      At the time I stayed late about one day a week to have dinner in town and miss traffic, so I would have a lot more overlap with Bob.

      One day Christina was ranting about how Bob never worked and it must be nice, bla bla bla.
      “You know he’s here until like at least 7, right?”
      “Bob doesn’t leave at 5, he’s here later than me on my late nights.”
      It had literally never occurred to Christina that just like she worked an early schedule, Bob worked a late schedule. To her credit, it never came up again.
      (I work even less directly with Bob now than I did then, but I know he still works that super late schedule, and only comes on site maybe one day a week, which is fine – he’s a challenging person to have in an open office.)

      All of which is to say, yes, people are weird about visible working hours, and if the OP gets the later start time they should figure out some way to make it very clear to their whole team that they’re working late to head off bad feelings.

  18. Coverage Associate*

    Several years ago, a relatively Big Law associate won her case in California for harassment and failure to accommodate her sleep disorder, which put her in hours a little earlier than OP’s preferred hours.

    I think the case illustrates both of Alison’s points: that sleep disorders are something that employers have to accommodate under the ADA etc., but that there can still be discrimination that makes jobs that are unhappy about accommodations not worth it.

    FWIW, there’s studies showing that more productive mornings are common across industries, especially regarding meetings and phone calls. But as a former Big Law attorney in California, you can succeed without being a morning person, even if your clients are in earlier time zones. You might hit a ceiling though if you can’t regularly accommodate earlier client meetings.

  19. GladImNotThereAnymore*

    I’m currently on a project where all but one of us are in the US Central time zone, but the one outlier is in the UK with roughly 4-5 hours of overlapping work time between us. We’ve adapted in terms of scheduling meetings and such so, as others have said it really depends on your industry, but has worked for us. Maybe your change of hours could be framed like a very remote employee that they may already have experience accommodating.

  20. Echo*

    I think this is a fine thing to ask about in the interviewing process! I think what you have on your side is that 8am sounds like it’s unusual in your industry compared to the more common 9-5. I’d phrase it as something like: “I’m really thrilled about what I’m hearing so far. The only thing that’s giving me pause is the 8am start – that’s the earliest I’ve ever seen for a job in this industry. Can you tell me more about the decision to have 8am as the start time and how flexible that is in practice?”

    That would then give you information about how flexible they are on start time in general, and what’s behind the unusually early start. They might even say something like “oh, those are our published hours but we have a team member who does 10-6, all we really care about is the core hours of 10-2” or they might say something REALLY annoying like “I personally chose that time because I think that no one wants to work anymore and coming in at 8am demonstrates a commitment to work ethic”.

    1. Echo*

      I will also say, as a success story – my partner is exactly like you, OP, and negotiated an 11am start time a few years into a job that was going very well. (He probably would qualify for delayed sleep phase disorder, except that both of us strongly feel that this is not a “disorder”, just a difference. There’s nothing wrong with him!) He was even able to make a business case for it because he works with people in other time zones quite a bit.

      1. Claire*

        Yes, thank you! I’m not sure why this is considered a “disorder” when it is estimated that possibly up to 40% of people have a night owl chronotype.

        1. JustaTech*

          I have a friend who’s a serious night owl who just left a well paying industry to take a job that’s 2nd shift and I know it’s the healthiest she’s been in years – she’s finally getting enough sleep and it’s done wonders for her.
          So I would say the “disorder” part is how unwell people are from being forced to conform to hours that do not work for their sleep cycle.

    2. Lucia Pacciola*

      I think it depends how you ask. If you frame it as a negotiable perk, that’s fine. If you frame it as a documented condition looking for a reasonable ADA accommodation, that’s fine. If you frame it as needing some slack to come in later because you find it difficult to get up in the mornings, that’s not fine.

  21. NothappyinNY*

    Even if 10:30 is as busy as 9, I see this as most people working 4-5 busy hours a workday but OP wants to work say 2-3 busy hours. Co-workers might fell they are treated unfairly.

    1. SarahKay*

      The thing is, OP won’t know until they ask. It’s entirely possible that the office would actually find it useful to have one late person and that currently no-one in the team wants to be that person. So everyone is grudgingly taking their turn at the ‘late night’ and would welcome with open arms someone who wants to do it all the time.

    2. Roland*

      Agreed, that argument doesn’t hold water. OP should definitely bring up their concerns but they should not bring up this one point as it sounds naive.

  22. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

    There’s also the frustratingly puritanical thing about how people judge later-than-average schedules differently than they judge earlier-than-average ones…

    This became a Whole Thing at an ex-job. Job was advertised as flexible, but no particular start time was advertised. Late Starter came to job and typically started some time between 10:00-10:30 am. He also worked until 7:00-7:30 pm. Management became very, very frustrated about this for reasons that were never really clear. An email went out to all staff that start time was no later than 9:00 am.

    We needed to be responsive to clients, but not like IMMEDIATELY. A 1 to 1.5-hour difference just wasn’t something that would particularly matter in our line of work. It didn’t create more work for colleagues. Most work was done solo. Many of us Didn’t Get It. What was the actual problem? I remember a manager saying to me, “9:00 am doesn’t seem unreasonable.” And I said, “It’s not unreasonable. It’s just not what was advertised. Change how the job is advertised if this matters.”

    Late Starter left. A bunch of us thought all the Drama over start time was annoying and pointless.

    Meanwhile, I would roll in 7:00-7:30 am and leave 3:30-4:00. NO PROBLEM.

    1. Bast*

      If Late Starter was staying late and getting work done, it shouldn’t have been a problem. If starting late was going to be an issue, I 100% agree that it should be brought up beforehand — “While our start time is flexible, we do want you here at or before 9.” It seems like they didn’t get annoyed until Late Starter had been doing it for some time, and that just isn’t fair. As long as Late Starter wasn’t using the time alone to goof off and get paid for it, they should have just left well enough alone. Flexibility in start time is important to me in the other direction; if a place doesn’t allow early mornings, it would impact my decision to take the job. I am sure for people looking to do late starts it is the same way, so this absolutely should be made clear in the ad AND the interviewing process.

  23. Can’t think of a name*

    I work in IT and had a coworker who started at 10ish while the rest of us were there before 8. It was a little inconvenient having to schedule around him, but that was offset by having someone available later in the day for tickets that came in later. Perhaps this job has something similar you could do – pick up tasks that come in later in the day so others don’t have to stay late to do them?

  24. Chicago Anon*

    I wonder if there are any tasks that have to be done later in the day, or in the evening, that are harder for the morning people to get to. If so, and you volunteered to take them off other people’s plates, that might be a good way to spin the scheduling request.

  25. Anne Elliot*

    Agree with others that have said this is very industry-dependent. I work a traditional office job that provides back-end support to others who work traditional office hours, who in turn work with clients who ALSO work traditional office hours. So for us a request to work off hours would be met with a hard “no.” I think crucial to the analysis is whether the job under consideration requires that your hours align with your coworkers’ hours, or with your clients’ hours. If the answer to either is “yes,” I honestly wouldn’t even ask.

  26. Support Project Nettie*

    I think it would have been better to ask the question before starting the application process or at least some way in rather than just before being accepted. I hope they are able to accommodate your request, but if they aren’t, I can’t imagine the organisation would be happy to find this is a deal breaker (if it is) that they could have addressed before putting effort into your application.

    I’m also not sure claiming a sleep disorder is wise without a confirmed diagnosis and I’m surprised Alison has suggested this. What if they say they can make accommodations but require proof (i.e, a diagnosis)?

    Hope it works out for you.

    1. New Mom (of 1 7/9)*

      It makes the most sense for the applicant to ask for accommodations when they have the most leverage i.e. at the offer stage. If I’m interviewing while e.g. pregnant, best believe that you’re going to find that out at the eleventh hour.

    2. David*

      I gotta call this out: Alison did not suggest “claiming a sleep disorder…without a confirmed diagnosis”. In fact she was extremely explicit about not suggesting it. What she did suggest was that the letter writer should look into whether they have a genuine sleep disorder which could be officially diagnosed.

    3. Starbuck*

      I like to be friendly if I can to potential candidates, but if someone asked me this question before they even applied I might not bother to respond. I am not even considering you yet! And our application system is not onerous, I just need your resume in my email. I think after the interview or around the offer stage is the most reasonable time to ask this, when it makes more sense for us to be talking about these details.

  27. Willow Pillow*

    I would be very cautious around saying something like “I have a sleep disorder” without a medical diagnosis – I’ve been in that scenario (with a different, also-stigmatized condition) and my self-disclosure wasn’t accepted without a medical diagnosis. HR was not understanding at all and basically expected me to be able to go to a walk-in clinic – I only managed to get assessed a year later.

    I say all this as someone who 1) lives in Canada (with healthcare) and 2) had been at the same company for over a decade. I can’t speak on the ADA (or any other country’s disability laws), or how easy/expensive a sleep study would be where you are, LW, but think out the potential ramifications based on your circumstances. You could use the word “condition” instead of disorder

    To be clear, I am fully team sleep when you need to, as much as you need to, and you shouldn’t need a doctor to write out what you already know about yourself. What should be doesn’t pay any bills, though!

    1. Garblesnark*

      Seconded. Sometimes if you appeal to having a disability HR will give you a very sweet “no worries just get a letter from your doctor that says that exact thing” and if your doctor doesn’t agree with that exact thing you’re stuck in a very awkward place.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I had to pay over $1000 to get my sleep study done, despite having health insurance at the time. And it took weeks to get an appointment because there aren’t a lot of sleep labs in my area even though I am located in an East Coast US city with many renowned hospitals. It ended up being worth it in the end, but it’s still frustrating to think about how expensive it was.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Oh, but what I meant to also say was that if OP can swing it they should seek medical advice WRT their sleep schedule. I did say this in another thread, but just want to reiterate here as well. I agree with you, Willow Pillow and Garblesnark, that if OP wants to get a disability accommodation for their sleep issues, they should probably get a diagnosis. Maybe not before they try to negotiate later starting hours, but at some point down the line.

  28. Dawn*

    As someone who has also never been formally diagnosed with a sleep phase disorder but who almost certainly has one, I can only sympathize as to how much more difficult this makes existing in our world.

  29. alex*

    In my experience, the folks who tend to insist on being at a computer and ready to work right at 8 a.m. are either really young and have had this mindset ingrained in them from old-school professors who aren’t as in touch with modern workplace flexibility, or ones who have worked at companies where “that’s just how it’s always been done” without providing a thought-out reason for it. There are definitely businesses and industries where an early start time is necessary, but I think more places could make flex time work if they thought it through a little more.

    FWIW, my industry mostly sticks to normal business hours, but we have a few folks who prefer to start around 6 a.m., leave around 3 p.m. to pick up kids, etc., then log back in for another couple of hours in the evening. We also have others in non-customer facing roles who make themselves available during business hours but do most of their work late at night. Most everyone else is doing 9-5 or something close to it. And, guess what? Everything works out fine.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      6-3 is already a 9 hour day. Starting at 6 am and still having to do a couple more evening hours if you end at 3 is absurd. I work 7-3:30 and that’s a 42.5 hour week.

      1. Starbuck*

        Yeah, that’s wild! That’s not a great example to follow. My sibling also starts work at 6am, but that means she’s off and heading home and done with work for the day at 2:30pm.

    2. Hrodvitnir*

      I find the idea you have to be young or an old fashioned stickler to think of 8 am as a normal start time is more a demonstration of the white collar tilt of this site than anything.

      My background is medical and my partner’s manufacturing. I think of starting before 8 am as standard – and I’m not a morning person. There are of course later shifts in those industries too, but often minimal flexibility.

      I feel like people who have always done office jobs underestimate how much of the population work jobs where 9-5 is absolutely luxurious (also if you have a paid lunch break, not 8 hours).

      Not that I don’t think all industries should be as flexible as possible! It just gets a bit annoying sometimes because yeah, 8 am is not particularly early for a huge number of people. (And judgement from shitty management goes both ways!)

      1. Claire*

        Yeah I worked construction for a year, and we started at 8am, which was late for that industry. I’m a night owl, so it was one of the worst parts of that job for me.

  30. CzechMate*

    My father is like this. After the military, he was basically self-employed his whole career.

    The best I can say is that I sympathize (and now have a new diagnosis to fret over) and think sometimes the best option is to pivot to a sector that allows flexibility or has later hours.

  31. Observer*

    can you plausibly describe your sleep situation as a “sleep disorder”?

    They can and should. And if they have good coverage, they should try to find a good sleep specialist who can give the a formal diagnosis. What you are dealing with is know as a Circadian Rhythm disorder.

    It’s useful to talk to a doctor about it, because “common wisdom”, which is incorrect, is that it’s just a matter of getting into the correct lifestyle – health choices, sleep hygiene, etc. and that’s not true. On the other hand, occasionally there may be an underlying medical issue. In your case I would be surprised, but in any case being able to document this with a doctor can be useful.

    https {://} www {.} nhlbi {.} nih {.} gov /health/circadian-rhythm-disorders

    Get rid of the curly brackets and spaces for a brief overview.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Man, if I had a nickel for every time I heard something about how better sleep hygiene or getting into the habit of getting up earlier would turn me into a morning person….I’d never need to work again.

    2. RagingADHD*

      They should try to find a well-regarded sleep specialist, period. Whether or not a doctor agrees with your online diagnosis of the LW is not the litmus test of whether or not the specialist is a good one.

      They should not doctor-shop based on something a random internet stranger with no medical degree diagnosed them with.

  32. Bast*

    Is everyone in the role you are starting supposed to be in at 8? If so, I’d say it may be less likely that they will approve that drastic of a difference than everyone else because they won’t want to be seen as giving someone different/special treatment, particularly if they have been hard asses about time in the past or with longer standing employees. I am not saying some places are not absolutely flexible, but even jobs with some flexibility usually have limits to it — as in, sure, maybe you can start at 8:30 or even 9:00, but not 10:30 because that would be bending too far.

    It does not hurt to ask, but I’d look for what appears to be the norm in this office. It may not be a great fit as flexibility may not work with their business model.

  33. Brain the Brian*

    I would recommend you talk privately with the hiring manager before HR on this one. I negotiated a later start time with my manager after I had already been hired (I got offered the job at the end of an internship, so there wasn’t really an interview process), and she said that HR probably wouldn’t like it if they found out. If your hiring manager wants to formally loop in HR as part of the negotiation, that’s fine, but don’t start with just HR, since they won’t be the ones managing you day-to-day once you start working. My industry is similarly one that’s far busier in the mornings than the afternoons, and I just have an agreement to be available for early meetings if they’re scheduled the day before and make sure I stay ahead of my work so that I’m never being asked for things on short notice in the mornings. It works for us, and I’ve been here over a decade now.

  34. morethantired*

    Chiming in to say it is worthwhile to investigate a sleep disorder if you can. When I found out I had a sleep disorder I was able to get my unofficial later start time at the office to an official disability accommodation. This was extremely helpful because, while I had an agreement with my boss over the later start time, it was STILL brought up at every review until I got my diagnosis and was able to get a letter from my doctor requesting an accommodation.

    If you do talk about a later start time with your boss, get it in writing. Otherwise they might still decide to criticize you for it.

  35. Eagle*

    Have you seen a sleep neurologist? You may have a medical condition that is affecting your sleep, which in turn affects your ability to get up earlier. I always thought I was a night person too. I used to sleep until 10:00 as well. Sorted my medical stuff out and I am shocked that I wake up in the 7:00 hour now. Just a thought to consider.

  36. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

    Justice for night people!!!!!

    I’m not one of you but you deserve better than you get.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I agree! And as I’ve mentioned here in other comment threads, I used to be a night owl and with medical treatment for a couple of conditions I have, have turned into a morning person. I feel I am in a better position to advocate for the night owls now that I’m not really one anymore….but it’s too bad that I couldn’t do it when I was a night owl.

      1. Claire*

        Though it sounds like you weren’t really a night owl. People with a night owl chronotype were born that way.

        1. Claire*

          (I made this comment just to clarify for people reading that chronotypes are biological, they are not a choice. We are often labeled lazy for “choosing” to stay up late and sleep in, when that’s just how we are wired.

        2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          I mean, I was born that way, and probably will revert to it some day, but my son gets me up at 5:30 every morning so by the time I get to work at 8 I’m generally alert and on the go. Of course, I crash at night at 9-10pm now because I’ve been up since 5. I still consider myself a night owl because if I push through that crash I can easily still stay up till 1-2, but guess what – 5:30 still comes.

  37. StarTrek Nutcase*

    I too would prefer/function better on a late schedule, but no where I’ve worked would consider that. But what really frosts me is they permitted early birds to adjust. So effectively leaving me to cover for a coworker from 3:30-5:00 and meaning I could never leave early for an appointment, etc. Strange how asking a coworker to cover for me 8:00-9:30 was seen as very different. (These jobs weren’t heavier in am than pm, and not remote compatible.)

  38. Email (Optional)*

    It definitely depends on the job and leadership but it’s doable! I’ve been able to negotiate this as a journalist (because so much of the job is reliant on other people’s availability and, for municipal reporters, evening meetings), as well as a proofreader (my team had enough people to work in shifts but was fully 9-5 until I explained that letting me start later meant there’d be someone available to quickly field clients’ after-hours questions/edits). Neither time I’ve done this has been with a particularly progressive or modern company, but outlining the all-over benefits to the team and org helped me get some leverage and sway the higher-ups to see things my way.

  39. LisaD*

    Another vote of encouragement for OP to see a sleep specialist if they haven’t already, and I also want to mention CBT(i), cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia. This can be helpful even for people who don’t feel they are experiencing insomnia but who do get groggy during the day, as often they are falling asleep but not staying asleep or not getting good-quality, restful sleep.

    I am also someone who naturally wakes later, around 10 AM, and I get my best work done after midnight some days. I resent that modern workplaces are generally not set up to accommodate the diversity of natural biorhythms that we have ample reason to believe exist in humans.

    However, most people, regardless of their natural circadian rhythms, should be able to adjust to a different schedule with consistency and time. Having been groggy every single day even after a long period of consistently waking at an earlier time is worth at least investigating with a specialist.

    For myself, my afternoon grogginess evaporated after my ADHD was diagnosed and I replaced my constant coffee drinking with prescription medication. Between the actual effects of my meds and getting away from the caffeine/sugar peaks and crashes, staying wakeful for a full workday became much easier to manage. I still have the same natural wakefulness schedule I always have, but it’s not torturous to adjust it when necessary anymore.

  40. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

    I’ve had a few people attempt to negotiate this in my hiring processes. I’ve been able to say yes to about 70% of them, mainly in situations where it’s better to have someone online at 9 am ET but we can work around it with a little extra effort, their proposed alternative is not radically later (like +1 hour, not +3 hours), and the candidate is super strong. But I have a handful of roles that being online at 9 am ET is so crucial to executing the job functions that I really can’t bend on it. I’ve also been in situations where we probably could have made it work, but had another candidate who was just as strong and could work with the ideal schedule, so we went with them. If it’s a dealbreaker for you, I can’t see a downside to asking.

  41. The norms are changing...*

    Is a self-diagnosis being suggested here? It feels questionable.

    I am torn between “lots of people are not morning people” vs. “here is an accommodation for you.”

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I don’t know. I mean, a lot of people aren’t morning people, but as a society we are so damn puritanical about “early to bed, early to rise” that anybody whose body can’t follow that plan is viewed as lazy, when it might just be that they are wired differently.

      I think instead of viewing “wired differently” as lazy, we are viewing “wired differently” as a sleep disorder, since society has deemed anything else abnormal. It’s only a disorder in that it goes against societal norms.

      1. The norms are changing...*

        I agree with you actually.

        I’m just an old “not” morning person watching the perceptions changing.

        Through the years, pointing out that I was not a morning person was a gentle joke by many people. It was not a a complement. It was and can be irritating.

        1. Peanut Hamper*


          I do hope that the perceptions continue to change.

          Laziness is not about when you get out of bed; it’s about what you don’t get done while you are awake! I wish more people realized that.

          1. It's Cora*

            Or what you don’t get done while at work. Yes, you’re butt-in-seat at 7:45 a.m., great, good for you. But you don’t do any actual work; you just sit in your colleague’s office all day gossiping. How exactly does this make you so much better than the colleague who comes in at 9:30 and does, you know, work duties until six?

    2. Dawn*

      Self-diagnosis is not always unreasonable, and especially in cases like this where hiring managers can be unreasonably biased against people who can’t actually point to a medical reason (which is reasonably likely to exist; more than 50 million Americans have a diagnosed sleep disorder and that number is quite certainly heavily underreported.

      The OP isn’t asking for a formal accommodation, and if it would be reasonable to adjust someone else’s schedule based on them medically not being a morning person, it should really be reasonable to consider it for anyone whose experience presents similarly.

    3. Ros*

      I’d just like to point out that all formal diagnoses starts with a self-diagnosis – it’s definitely not final, but let’s not invalidate that.

      Literally: your doctor will not suggest an ADHD screening or a sleep disorder screening as basic care. YOU have to go to the doctor and be like ‘I have this pattern of issues and I’d like to be screened for *whatever*’, and even then I’ve had to argue for that ‘not everyone is a little bit ADHD’ to get the referral the doctor thought was CLEARLY unnecessary. The self-diagnosis was what made me push.

      Note: during the evaluation my doctor thought was unnecessary, the neuropsychologist who did my evaluation literally put down her papers, looked at me, and said ‘and you made it to HOW OLD before being screened? HOW??’ … which was pretty validating.

  42. It's Cora*

    The “morning people are BETTER people” can certainly be both industry-specific and totally unreasonable, e.g. higher education.

    Not every university, of course; and the pandemic really shook things up, but college classes still generally start at eight, staff are expected to follow irrespective of job duties; and woe betide the person who starts at 9:30. The last college where I worked, the student advising unit was so terribly proud of themselves for being early risers that they actually put it front and center on their homepage: “We come in early to serve our students.”

    Because, as EVERYONE knows, if there’s any population that really, really wants to discuss long-term academic scheduling at 7:30 in the morning, it’s college students.

      1. Claire*

        I feel this! I passed up a number of courses I would have loved to take that had an 8am start time, because I knew it wouldn’t work for my chronotype. The number of late afternoon and evening courses seemed to be much fewer.

        1. Avery*

          Yeah, my university offered a first aid course that I would’ve loved to take… but it was only ever offered at 8 in the morning, and that was a no-go for me. Given the subject matter, I always wondered if that timing was intentional on the scheduler’s part–like, “if you can do it at 8 AM, you can do it any time” sort of logic.

    1. Starbuck*

      Which is just a totally out of whack way to do it – when I was in college, competition during registration was SO FIERCE to make sure you didn’t have to sign up for the 8am lectures. Those classes were hated and I knew classmates who ended up in those sections and skipped most of their classes! It’s brutal.

      Once I was a junior/senior and had priority registering, there were a few quarters where I managed not to have any classes starting before 10am. It was glorious.

      1. JustaTech*

        Even in college I was a morning person (or morning person for a college student) and people were always surprised to see a senior in an 8am class. I was also the only person who volunteered for the opening shift at the library (also 8am). I thought it was great, super chill, no one to talk to, and I got to at least glance at the newspapers as I put them on the sticks for the professors to read.

        The one time I got a night class (6:30 or 7pm) I *hated* it because I didn’t want to be learning new stuff at that hour, I wanted to be doing homework on my own schedule.

  43. Jamie*

    I think if the candidate is strong enough, companies will be flexible. I work in a client-facing field and manage people. I have been able to negotiate a 30he work week with one half day at home. it works because I am sometimes flexible (like for meetings that can’t happen at another time) and I spend a lot of time making sure the people I manage always have enough work while I’m not in. my boss was skeptical, but I think they are happy enough with my performance that it’s almost a non-issue.

  44. Just a question*

    I would be curious as to what type of job and industry. That would be the driver. If it is shift work and you applied for the 8am-4pm shift and now ask to start later as a hiring manager I would be put out.

    If it is not, they may welcome a later start time with a later end time to provide coverage in the evening. I have hired for 9-5 jobs and the person asked if they could start anywhere from 10:30 – 11:30, I was was happy because I couldn’t find anyone who would work til 630-7pm

  45. Not The Earliest Bird*

    I am in an office position in a construction industry. Our field workers start at 6 AM in the winter and 5:30 AM in the summer. I do not work those hours. I start “late” at 8 AM, and I’m in the office until 4 or 5 PM. Everyone else is done around 2:30/3:00. My “staying late” means that there’s office coverage and gives me an hour or more in the afternoon when no one can interrupt me – aka the best time of day for me to actually get things done.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      That’s why I sometimes love working on the weekends, even though I am remote. It just feels quieter and more relaxed and I know I won’t get emails or Teams messages, and can just focus and concentrate on whatever I need to get done. It’s wonderful.

    2. Roguestella*

      When my coworkers leave at 4 like they’re supposed to, I relish that final hour to finish up projects I started during the day and do deep work like writing and research. When they stay late and leave with me, I am not a happy panda.

  46. Regina Phalange*

    I have a friend with a circadian rhythm disorder, which is very similar to what you’re describing . Because of that she gets an ADA accommodation to start later. It might be worth pursuing a formal diagnosis so you could take that route.

  47. A Poster Has No Name*

    Best of luck to you, LW, but I think this is going to be a tough sell. For a job where everyone starts at 8 but you’re rolling in at 11? That’s going to be rough, unless it’s the type of place where you have customers in other time zones or something and you can be the one to cover the later hours.

    And even if they agree to it, prepare to get pressure to start working earlier pretty much from the get-go. Nature of the beast.

  48. K8T*

    I would not claim an accommodation until you’re formally diagnosed. If they don’t ask for paperwork right away and it’s discovered you lied later on – they’d have very easy grounds to fire you.

  49. Cyrus*

    OP, talk to a doctor if you haven’t before. I’m not one, but it’s possible you have an actual medical issue. If you do, maybe they can help and in the meantime you’ve got a medically recognized condition you can discuss with Human Resources.

    Until then, I would not expect a job to go well that’s busy at 8 AM, whether you personally negotiate a later start time or not.

  50. Optimus*

    In my last job, we were expected to work core hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. M-F. However, we also had a lot of right-at-the-end-of-the-workday requests that routinely caused us heartburn because these tasks that required at least 15-20 minutes to handle would come in at the tippy tail end of the day and cause havoc in terms of overtime (union shop, so this was a real issue). Sometimes too the requests came from higher-ups to whom we could not and should not say “no” or bring up overtime – it was not their concern – and these particular requests often were open-ended, like, at 4:25 p.m., “Hey, stand by for us to send you a press release to publish on the website. We don’t know what time it will come through. Sometime this evening as soon as all the parties sign off.” Maddening.

    So, yeah, our mornings were busy with daily products that had to be published at a certain time, as well as standing meetings. But when I asked if I could slip my schedule to the right a little bit, dropping my kids off at school and coming in by 9 and staying until 5:30, they made that exception right away because it would mitigate a lot of the last-minute angst at 4:30.

    A couple years after that we had another team member who could not get their butt to work on time to save their life. They would stay until 6 or 7 p.m. to get their hours in. A lot of us griped about those constantly delayed in times – we learned this person would never be around to help with ANY of the morning duties. But they were sitting there with the catcher’s mitt when leadership started asking for stuff at 5 p.m.

    It just doesn’t hurt to ask. You never know what the internal dynamics are.

  51. Turingtested*

    Changing some details, but had an employee in a similar situation. Standard shift was 6AM-3PM, wanted 9AM-6PM. This was an agreement not a medical accommodation. Position was collaborative and employee understood that they would have limited hours in which to collaborate. Very quickly employee got annoyed that basically every morning was meetings and that there was little room to move them around.

    I could be incorrect but I think they were so happy to work later they didn’t really think about what they were agreeing to, which was in some senses a very constrained schedule.

    None of this may apply to your situation, but if you negotiate a later start time please make sure that all it entails works for you.

  52. Wanda Moosejaw*

    I can relate! I have been lucky in my last two office jobs in that once I was established in the company/role, my start time just started drifing later until I reached my arrive time of 10 – 10:15. In my previous jobs, I was frequently there late as it was the nature of the job. In my current role, I choose to bring my lunch and eat at my desk (or will take a 15-20 min. break to sit and eat with a colleague). But, if there is an in-office meeting/event, I am here early to accommodate. I have other co-workers who choose to come in early, leave for lunch, leave before 5, etc. to fit what works for them. I’m lucky that this is a smaller/more flexible environment. At this stage in my life, I’d have a hard time going back to a ‘must be here at 8am’ gig!

  53. ijustworkhere*

    My poor spouse has struggled with this for 40 years. He might be at work at 8 or 8:30 but if he were my employee, I wouldn’t trust any decisions he made before 10 am. He looks awake but he is not awake.

    Good luck. People should be able to work when they are most productive. My best friend is in advertising and she does her best creative work from 9 pm to 2 am. She gets all kinds of awards and all her employer cares about is making the deadline with a quality product! But before 11 am she is a zombie. She does her client meetings late afternoon and it all works out.

    1. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

      Yep, my spouse works creatively and is best between about midnight and 5 am. My fairly natural sleep pattern is 2 or 3 am until 9 or 10 am. His is more like 5 am to noon or 1 pm, and he’ll often go back to work for a few hours (either from home or in the office, depending on what needs to be done) when I go to bed at 2. Fortunately, his work allows for that kind of flexibility a lot of the time.

    2. Rachel*

      “People should be able to work when they are most productive.”

      This overly simplistic. Some jobs have coverage or collaboration needs. Imagine you need emergency health services and nobody was there because none of the staff are most productive then.

      I am all for flexibility when it is possible. This space sometimes takes that too far, to some sort of fictional, idealistic time and place where every person works in an isolated pod at their own pace.

      Is that possible? Sure. Is it possible for everybody? You are joking, right?

      1. SarahKay*

        Imagine if the staff who were good at mornings worked the early shift and the staff who are good at evenings worked the later ones. It’s almost like you’re letting people work when they are most productive….

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          Yeah but people would still need to choose whether they applied to work early or late shifts.
          So, same as now ….
          night owls shouldn’t apply to jobs that need early hours, or early birds to evening jobs.

          1. Orv*

            Generally you don’t know the hours a job expects when you apply, unless they’re something seen as unusual.

            1. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

              Also, there are plenty of jobs that don’t require “shift work,” per se, but can be done at any hour of the day or night. There’s no particular reason why many jobs can’t be done at any hour or (should) need to have that specified when applying.

              Yes, there are jobs that are locked to a specific time of day. There are jobs with multiple formal shifts that hit different hours. And there are jobs where it just doesn’t, and shouldn’t, matter, and in those cases, it’s really nice when everyone can be trusted to do the work as and when it needs to be done. I don’t mind my day starting early when it really has to, but I also really appreciate the fact that those days are really only by necessity and not as a default.

  54. Daria grace*

    You may need to ask some questions about the structure of days in the job to gauge how far you can negotiate. For example, if there’s a 9am meeting that involves everyone most days 8:45 is probably the latest you can realistically negotiate

  55. Cathy*

    I used to work in a lab, and some people had a later schedule than others. It was awesome- you could ask someone to turn off a machine for you a few hours after you would normally go home, or an early bird could turn on a machine for a later person.
    I’m in an office now, and we have somewhat staggered hours. It’s never a problem.

  56. Melissa*

    The question of how your colleagues will respond is such a big one, and I’m not sure how you’d know ahead of time, but you should go in with a plan.

    I once had a job where everyone worked until 4:30 (it was a medical clinic and that’s when the clinic closed). I negotiated with my manager that I would leave at 3pm– I was part-time anyway and I needed to pick up my son from preschool. It was an issue pretty much every single day for the entire time I worked there. People would ask me for “one quick thing” at 2:45. I’d be sweating to get out the door. Then when I reminded them that I had to leave at 3, they’d go “Oh… You need to go somewhere? You’re leaving early?”

    For one coworker, it was passive-aggressive and she was mad that I got to leave earlier than she did. For most, though, it was just that I was the only one leaving at that time, and they didn’t have my schedule memorized. It was stressful for me and annoying for them.

  57. CityMouse*

    This is just so job and office specific it really is impossible to say. It might be totally fine for some offices, it might be a complete non starter for others. I can work very flexible hours, unless I’m training, in which case I have set hours.

  58. Roguestella*

    Definitely ask! In my current role, mostly everyone works 8-4 which absolutely does not work for my sleep schedule or my kids’ school schedule. So I negotiated a 9-5 which I know was approved in part because my boss also works that schedule. Either way, 8-4 would have been a real struggle for me so I’m glad I asked!

  59. Late, Not Lazy*

    I’ve negotiated hours! At my current job, at the time of negotiating my offer letter I asked if it could be 35hr work week instead of 40hr since they couldn’t gice me more money. I also referenced that since the commute was really long for me, I’d like to work 9:30-4:30. and they said yes! these days I even sometimes push it to 10, but I always work my 7-7.5 hours.

    At a previous job, I had initially been in charge of opening up the building at 8:30am. It was terrible, I was pretty much always late and someone else ended up doing it. We got a new director a couple months in, and we had a chat. she was like “is this going to be a problem?” I was like “actually, it probably will.” I proposed that since we needed coverage 8:30am-9:30pm, and there were one or two other people in the same role and my most important duties did not have to be in the morning, that I do afternoons and evenings. so then I had a 1pm-9:30pm schedule! it was great, the most aligned with my natural sleep rhythm and habits I’ve ever been.

    I also wanted to second the sleep disorder idea. In my case I have ADHD, which is widely known to have sleep issues and a delayed circadian rhythm, and trouble getting up in the morning. I would probably never disclose ADHD to get an hours adjustment, but it feels completely fine to reference having a “condition that causes disordered sleep”.

  60. Your Mate in Oz*

    “people who go to sleep earlier are never viewed as lazy”

    I’ve had a management meeting spend time discussing my habit of walking out of the office at 3pm without a care in the world (or some similar phrasing). I found out via one of the more senior managers present who pointed out to the meeting that I was always at my desk at 7am. I got the impression from the way he talked that it wasn’t an easy discussion, but what he actually said was “you’re allowed to start as early as 6am”. He said that more than once so I took it as a suggestion and did that a few times, leaving after 8 hours because that’s what my contract required (“overtime only with written approval”)

    Socially there’s also a lot of pushback on people who leave events at 8pm in order to get home and sleep. I’ve very occasionally run into that at work, but normally working that late has been a one-off and I’ve just accepted it. When I have worked late shifts on a regular basis I have shifted my sleep schedule (but that has negative consequences if done long term!)

  61. Banana Pyjamas*

    I have successfully negotiated a later start time for a very butts-in-seats type job in the past. I only negotiated for a 30 minute late start, but you’d be amazed how much better just 30 extra minutes feels. Maybe you could negotiate a 9:00 start with a check-in at 30 and 60 days. If the employer feels it’s not working you could at either check in you could ask for 8:30.

    Is that early projected wake up time for getting ready or a long commute? In general I wake like 20 minutes before leaving. I skip make up and do the bare minimum in the morning. I find trying to give myself more time to wake up just makes me more tired and miserable.

  62. anontoday4this*

    I don’t mean this unkindly but if it’s a perfect job except that it’s full-time on site at a time you don’t want to work it’s not a perfect job. I can’t tell you how many jobs lately interviewed for that were perfect except for one factor that was really a dealbreaker. I agree with others. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but if they’re both of the workers in the morning and this with impact working with the people who do start at eight, I think it may be trouble down the line. Just my two cents.

  63. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    ” “the role would start work, in-office, at 8 am every day.”

    If really so, then it’s NOT the dream job for you, more likely to be a nightmare when it clashes with your natural sleep/wake cycle.

    You wrote that mornings are much busier than afternoons in your field, so you are asking to regularly not work for half of their busiest time. Even if you can prove a disability, would this be a reasonable accommodation?

    However, it’s still worth asking, just in case they might like to have someone who would regularly work late coverage. Do ask the HM, who would know if this would be doable, rather than HR who might give an automatic no.

  64. Sal*

    I find it so interesting when people mention working 9-5. I know this must exist, but my friends and I have never encountered a job that was truly 9-5 (with a one hour lunch, meaning work = 7 hours).

    Our offices generally expected 8 work hours, 9 with lunch. Timing might be flexible somewhat. And we salaried people might have additional flexibility about coming in late, leaving early at times. But the work day in our area/industries is generally considered 8 hours of work and then 1 hour of lunch (or – rarely – 30 minute lunch). So if someone negotiates a 9:00 start, it would typically be a 6:00 end. A 7am start has a 4pm end.

    Do many of you truly work 9-5 with a 1 hour lunch or that format such that the workday is only 7 hours?

    1. melissa*

      I’ve also wondered where the phrase “9 to five” comes from. I’m thinking back as far as my childhood in the 1980s— both my parents worked 8 to 5 (or similar, 7:30-4.30). With a 40-hour work week being standard, you’d be getting no lunch break, as far as I can figure.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      At FinalJob, where I stayed 30 years, standard was 7.5 hours plus 30 mins unpaid lunch break. However, after the probation period we could choose to go down to 7 hrs, as I did, with pay scaled down proportionately and without any career effects unless you were senior management.

      Very flexible times, but I usually worked 7:15 am – 2:45 pm, which with a 15 minute bike commute left me most of the afternoon and all evening free.

      This was in Germany though, engineering R&D. Most people I know in UK & EU work 35-37.5 hours plus unpaid lunch break of 30-60 mins.

  65. Whyamihere*

    My last company had a staggered start time and it was great for some reasons and the company could have capitalized on it better. We dealt with all states so the early birds should have had the east coast states and the night owls the west coast but they never did that.
    I am an early bird so no matter how much a position looks amazing, I know a start time of 9 or later would be a deal breaker.

  66. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Jobs vary as to whether it’s the early birds or the night owls who are frowned on. They shouldn’t: neither is more virtuous.

    When choosing jobs (unless you have to accept any offer immediately to pay the bills) it’s important to focus not only on career opportunities & pay, but also on the conditions you need to thrive, such as early/late working, total hours, flexibilty, dress rules, wfh/hybrid/in office, cubicles/open plan/hotdesk/own office. And of course in the US, also PTO and health costs.

  67. BiasAgainstEarly*

    I’m perplexed at the thought that people favor early starters over late. At nearly every job I’ve had it’s way easier to arrive at 10 than it is to leave at 2 even if you started at 5:30 or 6am. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to explain I started at 6 even when leaving at 3:30 or 4. No one ever had to justify starting at 10 or 10:30.

    1. Matt Early*

      Yes, this. I’m glad I’m not the only one at all :)

      (BTW, there seem to be two Matts here – I’m the “early bird” one, not the judgmental one)

    2. Rayray*

      I had one job where I frequently got stopped on my way out to do one last thing. Also when people would see me getting ready to leave and would say “Are you leaving already?”. It was the people who came in at 9:30 saying this to people who came in at 7:00.

  68. musical chairs*

    You don’t mention how early you are in your career or if you’re in a new job with a longer on-ramp or the type of industry you where collaboration time is also on-the-job training. I work in an industry with an apprenticeship-type model where a later start can probably work for established team members but is really tough to make work long term for those with less experience.

    Even if your new company is cool with your late start, it may be worth it to consider if there is useful exposure or training you’d be missing out on if you’re potentially the only one on a very different schedule than the rest of your counterparts. It may be worth it to be out of sync, it may not. If not, a position where your preferred start time is less out of sync would be much better.

  69. Lusara*

    “There’s also the frustratingly puritanical thing about how people judge later-than-average schedules differently than they judge earlier-than-average ones”

    It goes both ways. People who work earlier hours are judged for leaving at 3:30 just as much as people who work later hours are judged for coming in at 10:30.

    1. Audrey Puffins*

      Yeah, the dream employee is one who comes in early *and* stays late (according to our judgmental overlords)

  70. Caramellow*

    My last job had a flex of exactly 1 hour re: start time. 7 or 8 AM. That was it. They didn’t want people in early or staying late because that would require a manager to also work those hours. They also didn’t allow part time or work from home pre-pandemic. Mine was a conservative, slow to change, butts in seats industry.

  71. Times tables are killing me slowly*

    I work in healthcare (mostly behind the scenes) and my role is very autonomous, approximately 40% of my duties are things that must be done when equipment is not in use for patients and only about 5% is time sensitive. I have a boss who is rather butts in seats during treatment hours. Fortunately I was able to negotiate coming in 2 hours late so I have 2 hours to get things done after treatment hours without getting burnt out

  72. Freya*

    I work a later start than my coworkers; part of the reason this works is that our office runs high to primary caregivers who appreciate being able to leave early to do the school pickup. While afternoons usually aren’t as busy as mornings, if you’ve got one person who DOESN’T want to leave early, then they’re covering the phones when everyone else goes to fulfil other responsibilities and everyone is happy (and the kids get picked up on time so the parents don’t need to pay for childcare, which is a win-win for my coworkers)!

    Mass meetings don’t get scheduled for first thing in the morning or after school pickup time; that’s a business-wide rule. You can schedule meetings for yourself, but you can’t request anyone else be there outside their core hours.

    1. Ros*

      THIS, exactly. This kind of situation works when you have a flexible workforce – as a manager: some people don’t want to get up early, and some people CAN’T stay at work late, and if you have some of both you can cover a 12-hour work day or phone lines with little to no resentment and everyone getting their needs met.

      It’s kind of like the benefits of having a diverse team – not EVERYONE wants Christmas or Easter off! Diverse needs, managed well, make a team so much more flexible than everyone having the same ideal schedule and needing to force that into business needs.

  73. Christine*

    This is why I’m a night teacher. I hate mornings with a passion. The earliest I can function and remain healthy is a start time of 10 am, and that’s pushing it. I do best with hours from 1-9 pm.
    I think it’s important to choose a profession that aligns with one’s circadian rhythm. Fighting it can have real, negative health ramifications.

  74. Grumpy early bird*

    If this particular job doesn’t work out, I’m thinking OP would thrive with a remote job where the main office is in a later time zone. So, if OP lives on the east coast, they could find a job that uses west coast hours. My boss and I live in the west coast, so my colleague in NY never has anyone bug him until around 11am his time. Seems like something similar would be ideal for OP.

  75. MAC*

    I have nothing helpful for OP (I’m not a morning person and my worksite is on 4×10 shifts, 6am-4:30pm, fortunately I can start from home) but I would just like to thank Allison for her take on the superiority so many morning people seem to feel. My grandma was an *extreme* morning person … bed by 8pm, up by 4:30-5am at the latest. She would scold me about “wasting” my time sleeping in. Until the day I (respectfully) pointed out that my sleeping from midnight-9am was the same number of hours she “wasted” sleeping and that I had cleaned out my closet the night before and asked what she had accomplished during that time. I don’t think I really changed her opinion, but she did stop hassling me.

  76. Dog momma*

    If this person is consistently getting up at 10-11am daily, this is not the job for her. Doubt anyone would agree to later start hours and if someone has to cover for them, till they get there at say ..noon, esp if its a phone line, & mornings are much busier, that person isn’t getting their own work done and probably has to skip lunch.. LW needs to find a job that has a second shift.

  77. Amber*

    I just posed a similar question to Alison! Interesting to think that it is at least worth asking about. My situation (if anyone in the comments wants to weigh in) is a new job in the same company that I interviewed for would be overnight, but I have a standing Wednesday DnD game that I can stop participating in, but I’d love to do both the job and the game. The hours hadn’t been sent in stone yet (at time of interview at least) and I know starting at 10:30/11pm would let me do both- assuming the job is okay with that. During the interview, I asked if overnight was like midnight to 8am or 9pm to 5am and that’s when they told me they hadn’t finalized the hours. For anyone paying close attention, I’m the same commenter that commented on Friday’s open thread that I had an interview that week.

  78. Ros*

    If it helps – I manage an office that is notoriously more busy in the mornings than in the afternoons, and I have one employee who starts work around 10am for similar sleep/life reasons, and it works FINE – his specific role isn’t the busy one for mornings, so I don’t care… And anyone who wants to fuss about it can be reminded that THEY don’t stay late to fix problems because HE’s there, and they know they can leave work on time every day because there’s emergency coverage ‘after hours’ while he works. It’d be different if his specific role was busy at that time, but it isn’t, so it works.

    That said: it works fine because, while some of his work requires collaboration with his colleagues (… with who he has a 10am-4pm work overlap, like, y’all, if you can’t work within that…), some of it doesn’t – we’re not in meetings all day, thankfully, so schedule your meetings when you need them and people are available, and schedule your work when it needs to get done within your working hours. That takes colleagues who are willing to be sensible about scheduling, and a manager who is willing to manage ‘be sensible’ as a basic job expectation.

  79. Three Owls in a Trench Coat*

    In addition to many of the other suggestions about willingness to come in at regular hours occasionally for meetings or being available by phone during the usual office hours, I would bring up the following:

    – Your proposed schedule could make you available to business contacts in later time zones (East Coast/West Coast US) or possibly international contacts (your end of day overlapping with their start of day).

    – Working later creates a time at the end of the day for you to work uninterrupted on projects that need your focus and full attention.

    – Are there any duties at the office that are not inherently part of your position that would benefit from someone being available later in the day? Having an on-site person as a liaison for emergencies, security personnel, or maintenance coordination might be a selling point.

  80. Jan*

    On the sleep disorder, I’m sorry but no unless/until there’s an actual diagnosis. Representing yourself as having a medical condition when you plausibly don’t and haven’t been diagnosed (no self diagnosis doesn’t count) is lying and not ok.

    That being said OP should speak to their doctor and probably will need to do a sleep study if there is an issue.

  81. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    I found the puritanical comment rather a surprise because it has been the opposite experience for me my whole life. I am an early bird and have always had the complaint that I was “slacking” for leaving “early”. The worst was one job where my hours started at 6:30 and I usually stayed until 6 but occasionally had to be out by 5:30 and my boss who didn’t roll in until between 10 and 11 would get mad that I wasn’t willing to stay until 9 pm even though he knew I had been there at 6:30 am

    The breaking point for me there was one day I blew off an important after work event because he came by at 6 and said it was an emergency, he needed to have data X before I left. I came out of the factory to give him the data, only to find he had left at 6:30 and the next day the data was sitting on his desk until he rolled in at 10:30. I would have had PLENTY of time to get the data in the morning before he got there.

    1. Claire*

      Aside from some specific workplaces that may skew later (I wish I knew where they were, I have yet to find them!), there are many cultural things that throw shade on night people and vaunt early risers. For example, the sayings “Early to bed, early to rise, makes Jack healthy, wealthy, and wise” and “The early bird gets the worm.” There is lots of self-help and leadership advice that encourages people to get up at 4 or 5 am and start their day, like all these big CEOs do; yet I have never once seen the advice to pay attention to your natural chronotype and try to organize your day/night around that. Us night owls are often given grief for being lazy when we sleep in, but I have never heard someone called lazy for going to bed early. There is definitely a weird cultural bias against night owls, and many parts of our society are set up to favor morning people. It’s exhausting (literally as well as fuguratively).

      1. Offset Work is Challenging**

        I think this comes down to the fact that almost no one actually *likes* to wake up early to get to work – most people just do it because it accommodates their lives better. People are sensitive to things that seem like inequities, and almost nobody notices how much longer you stay after they’ve left, they just notice you didn’t arrive when they did. 9-5 is a “one size fits all” schedule that puts the most people in their seats for the maximum practical amount of time. It’s easy to ascribe something more to this than it is, if you fall on one fringe or the other of it, but we all have our crosses to bear. It isn’t practical to have most teams in most industries work customized schedules.

  82. cottagechick73*

    I would add that in addition to being job specific, it is going to be office specific, as in the office culture. In my office, the attitudes of flexibility in the start time goes down generational lines. I work with several older workers who HATE it that our office now has flexible hours. It has nothing to do with coverage or collaboration. They feel that if you are not in your seat at 8 am, you are a lazy POS. They don’t care if you are productive for a full 8 hours, its just that you are not there at 8 am. For my office, the recent switch up of ownership brought with it a flexible schedule while the previous owner had a very strict idea of start time of 8 am SHARP. Some people lost their minds over it when it was debuted. They never brought it up to the new owners or their managers, so they silently stew and gossip endlessly about who comes in when; it is infuriating. I am a Gen X and I love the flexible start time, even if I come in at the early portion of it. Just be aware of the possible judgement from your fellow coworkers.

  83. Offset Work is Challenging*

    Adjusted work hours, especially significantly offset ones, can cause real problems for teams collaborating. Every hour of offset creates two hours where team members are inaccessible to one another. If you’re not willing to make the effort to accommodate your team’s regular hours (there *are* ways to work towards resetting your internal clock), expect that to impact your future prospects at that company, especially leadership opportunities and the like. It’s not always a matter of “puritanism” so much as it is a practical reality of teamwork. Different companies have different tolerances as it comes to these questions, but it’s a dicey proposition in most places. And for sure, if you’re coming into the office (or logging on) two hours later than everyone else, most people are going to fixate on that and not the two hours you’re there after they’re gone. Unless it’s a true medical condition and not just a (strong) preference, it’s going to be hard to defend and it will color people’s perceptions of you. Best case, you live on the East Coast and you can find a remote job on the West Coast.

  84. On the other side*

    Re: “There’s also the frustratingly puritanical thing about how people judge later-than-average schedules differently than they judge earlier-than-average ones, as if you’re a lazy layabout who lacks work ethic rather than someone whose internal clock is simply set differently. ”
    It’s funny how we all perceive things differently.
    As someone coming in on the earlier side in order to leave a bit earlier and avoid some traffic, I felt the judgment skewed more in the other direction. Granted that was in tech where people as a norm tend to come in later. I felt very self-conscious and potentially perceived as a slacker for leaving maybe 30 or so minutes earlier than others, even though I was actually arriving an hour earlier or more. Who knows if anyone actually cared though; most likely it was all in my head.

  85. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    I never used to be a morning person, (motherhood forced me to change) and I had a job where I could stroll in at 10 or even 11, provided I did my hours. Even at 10, I wasn’t at my best: my creative juices started flowing at about 3 or 4 pm, so then I would work flat out until it petered out.
    Anyone who came to me asking me to deal with some silly little thing that would “only take a mo”, I’d wave them away with a “I’ll do that tomorrow morning”. So then the mornings were just a matter of getting a handful of silly little bits done, interspersed with plenty of strong hot tea, until I could escape to lunch. I mean, I wasn’t going to get anything creative done, I might as well do the stuff I never liked doing rather than spoil a creative moment with it.

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