We have one of the worst levels of work-life balance in the developed world in Australia, putting in an average of 5.1 hours of unpaid work each week in the form of skipped lunches, late finishes early starts and the like.
For individuals who are wanting success in their career and pursuing career advancement it is common to question “how late should I work?” and “should I work as late as my boss in order to appear to have a good work ethic?”
You should never just copy your bosses work schedule or work habit, he or she may have vastly different responsibilities to you, and you should not feel pressured to do so.
The most import thing to note is the outcome you are delivering when it comes to the work that you do and the work that you are delivering in the professional field that you are in. It is crucial to your job that you deliver a positive outcome consistently and over time build trust with your manager.
It may be necessary in certain times to put in extra hours when there is an important and urgent deadline to meet, however overall, you do not need to work late just because your boss is working late.
If you are new to a job, you see that your manager is working late, and you begin to put in after-hours work, it can be a very bad sign in your managers. This is especially true if you have not really built that trust yet with your manager.
It can be a sign that your manager has hired you for this job, but you really are not coping with the workload that they are giving you. It is not uncommon for managers to even look at this and to get worried that they have made a bad hiring decision.
In some cases, the manager may request that you keep a log of the tasks that you do so that they can see what you are doing throughout the day. If your manager really is not trusting you, if your manager really isn’t seeing that you are able to deliver on your tasks, then consistently working late is a bad sign in your manager’s perspective. It is a sign that you are struggling to meet the requirements of the job.
It is okay to be working additional hours in your job in certain situation. These situations may include work on an important project or if there are urgent and important problems to solve which require you to put in more time. You want to make sure that you are not leaving colleagues to pick up your slack when you do clock off.
One thing to note is that time management is very important to performing your job successful and avoiding working late. A strategy that can be implemented is that you can prioritize the most urgent tasks and the most important tasks and really try to do well in those things and try to get them completed earlier in the day.
You should follow this strategy to make sure that you are delivering these urgent / important projects on time and to a high quality to the business.
There are some things that aren’t so important and aren’t so urgent to the business. These things can be held off and it really isn’t necessary to be working late or working after hours when it’s really not going to be adding anything to the business.
With this in mind, the most important solution is to work to your normal hours and manage your time well. If there is a strict and urgent deadline, your manager should also know about it, but if they aren’t please make it clear to them that you will be doing some overtime and some additional work for this deadline.
It is certainly good practice to be punctual and on time with your work and meet all your commitments, however when a manager is expecting you to work late and work to their schedule it is important to have that conversation with your manager. You need to be firm that it is the value that you are bringing to the company that is the most important thing.
In most cases, if you build up that trust with your manager and you consistently deliver a high value, the issue of when you are finishing work becomes irrelevant. To have a productive and harmonious employee/employer relationship you should focus on the quality of the work you are producing, as opposed to counting the clock.
In 2020, the emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to require their staff to work from home and work remotely for an extended period of time. Because workers had moved out of physical proximity and away from view from managers, it became more difficult to monitor what times people were clocking-in and out.
More employers began to rethink their focus on monitoring employee clock-in and clock-out times and would look more closely at the actual results their employees were producing. Companies are realizing more often that the end outcome and what the employees are delivering is the most important thing.
At the end of the day, it isn’t about the amount of time that you are in the office that matters, it is more about what you can deliver in terms of the value of your work.
For example, if you are a Territory Sale Manager, your boss does not care how late you are working. He or she cares more about your sales numbers. Do you have a good sales record, are you helping to achieve a high level of market penetration, and are you helping to beat your competitors? Are you delivering on your key performance indicators?
Those things will help you towards career advancement and promotion more than any show of working late.