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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard mPeror's Avatar
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    Question Office hours from a business owner's point of view

    Why do almost all companies still treat all its employees the same regarding work hours? I'll explain my situation to elaborate:

    I work as a web developer in a design firm, and they make a BIG deal of work hours. For example, if I'm late 15-30 minutes, I have to stay 15-30 minutes after office hours. If I have to leave 1 hour early for something important, I have to stay an extra hour the day after. It's basically what the business owner said to me "you owe me 8 hours a day".

    Now isn't that silly?

    I'm a developer. I work based on tasks, schedules and dead-lines. I don't even meet or contact clients. Coming late or leaving early doesn't directly impact the performance of the business I'm working for like phone operators for example. As long as I'm delivering my projects on time, they shouldn't care whether I spend an hour less or more at the office.

    I find myself most of the days just sitting around surfing the net by the end of the day because I've already finished what I'm supposed to do for that day (which is mostly a lot of tasks).

    Now my question is: since there are a plenty of business owners here, how do business owners see this? do they think that they won't get their money's worth (i.e: salaries) unless they force all employees to spend at least 8 hours at the office?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard cranial-bore's Avatar
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    Have you asked for more work? I'm sure more could be found to fill your days to the end. This is how your boss will think. If I'm paying you hundreds of dollars a year, I want as much return as possible for that. They probably don't have an upper-limit on how productive they'd like you to be (i.e just finishing your current tasks).

    Having said that more flexibility and give and take can be more motivating for workers, but not all businesses will be enlightened this way.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard mPeror's Avatar
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    No, and I wouldn't ask for more. I already have enough work. Just because I push my limits, work very hard for 6 hours straight and finish many tasks doesn't mean I can do more in the remaining hours (for example).

    If we put schedules of all of our projects, and developers always deliver in time and keep the business running smoothly, then why arriving at the office no later than 8:00 am and leaving on or after 5:00 pm (for example) matter to my employer?

    That's the point I'm trying to make.

  4. #4
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Where I'm from, most companies have a "three strikes and you're out" policy. If you're late more than three times in one year, your fired. If you miss three days of work, you need to get a doctor's note or you're fired.

    Additionally, if you're on salary, often you're expected to work until the job is done even if it goes beyond regular office hours, with no extra pay.

    Your employer may seem like a villain, but if you were paid hourly instead of on salary, you would simply lose the money for those hours. I also think that instead of surfing the net to fill up your time, you would be more valuable to your employer if you asked if there was anything more you could do when you feel you've run out of work. Often employers give their more valuable people a little more leeway.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I've heard of some companies being more flexible with actual work hours as long as the project/task gets completed - but that's really something you need to look for before going to work for someone who's going to expect 8 hours a day from you regardless. You can certainly try to make a case for yourself here, but something tells me you have your work cut out for you.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Ravedesigns is absolutely right, not all companies are like this but you won't get one that is to change just because you want it to be different.

    As far as why this is the case, for the most part it's a generational thing. The younger generation has a dramatically different approach and belief about the role of work to life balance than those from previous generations. The WWII generation was all about being for the company and much of this rubbed off to their children, the babyboomers, many of whom still feel it's proper for a junior employee to work 60+ hours a week, have a certain ethic and approach that does not seem to have been passed down. This of course butt’s heads almost entirely with the new trend and companies are being forced to adjust to true 40 hour weeks, flexible schedules and work from home employees. Of course as with anything this is not black and white but it's been well documented and is becoming more and more of a challenge as “youth” becomes management.

    Of every large company I’ve ever read about, I think Best Buy has done the best job of nailing this new philosophy (and old and new employees alike love it). As I understand it, in their corporate headquarters employees are charged with getting the job done and then some. When and where they do it isn’t as big a deal provided that they get it done. To this end, people work different amounts, from different places and at different times. They don’t even have mandatory meetings (if you’ve worked in a mid to large size company you know how radical that is). The benefits to Best Buy? Less costs on office space, less employee churn and they think more productivity. I agree.

    That all said, if you're doing your work in 6 hours from the office you need to ask yourself why. A company hires you not to do tasks but to complete the job… are you completing the job? Is there more you could reasonably contribute to? At the end of the day, going the extra mile is how you get ahead (promoted, raise, etc…) so if your company looks at the clock as an indicator of success, you have a serious issue. If they don't look at the clock you should still ask yourself the same question... it isn't about doing the minimum, ever.

    I don’t feel the clock should rule the office but it often does and that’s the simple reality of most companies. For me working is about contributing as best I can – my job (marketing) is to grow a business so if business is growing, things are moving smoothly and we’re making steps forward rather than just keeping pace, I allow myself more freedom. By the same token, I also like to take my work home with me. I may put in an 8 hour day, a 10 hour day or a 5 hour day but that doesn’t mean it’s done... I find work I enjoy and that allows me to focus on it well outside of typical office times when I so desire. No company embraces employees who simply want to work less, smart ones embrace employees who work hard, work above and beyond and do so regardless of the hours put in.

    So what do you do? Well you really only have a few options. Stay, go or create change. If you stay under the status quo you really will have to adopt or put up with the requirements. You can ask for more work or sit there and kill time but it will eat at you… being bored eats at everyone. You can go and try and find something better, and you might. Or you can try to create change. Best Buy’s policy emerged from the “bottom up” and something you could try to bring a part of to your office. You could also keep things much more simple and have a frank discussion about your value, your contribution and creating an environment in which you thrive. Perhaps the best solution for you if you really are task driven is to get more tasks and do them on your own time with a few office trips a week – it takes discipline but it’s the only way some people work.

    Regardless of what you do I would suggest that you do something. Work takes up far too much of your life to be unhappy.

    Article on Best Buy: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine...0/b4013001.htm

    Article from Forbes on the Generation Clash:
    “Manage Us?” By Nadira Hira
    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortu...3934/index.htm (web version)
    - Ted S

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    I've always thought it was really silly as well. I think people should be paid based on the work they do, not based on the number of hours they happen to spend in the office (not really an indicator of work). Luckily, the company I work for is pretty flexible on hours.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Enthusiast WriteNow's Avatar
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    That's one reason (of many) that I'm self employed. I hated having to sit in an office for 8 hours when it only took 5 hours to do the work I was given. Yes I asked for more and it confused them.

  9. #9
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    At the company I work for, it is EXPECTED to work way more than 40 hours a week and not get compensated for it. They're preaching one thing, but really expecting a completely different kind of dedication. Many of us work a lot more than we should and in return all we get is a lower per hour salary. How's that for employee satisfaction?
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  10. #10
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Find a company that values results over the amount of time you're in a seat.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foreigndude View Post
    At the company I work for, it is EXPECTED to work way more than 40 hours a week and not get compensated for it. They're preaching one thing, but really expecting a completely different kind of dedication. Many of us work a lot more than we should and in return all we get is a lower per hour salary. How's that for employee satisfaction?
    I used to work for a large multinational that had this kind of attitude. I was 'expected' to do a few hours over my contracted time every week, and not get compensated / paid for it, but if I wanted to leave an hour early one day or something - they wouldn't budge. Thankfully, I don't work there any more. There are too many companies obsessed with the time you sit in the seat and not with actual results, as vgarcia said.

  12. #12
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    Actually, let me correct myself a bit - It's not the company's expectations. It's the "group's" expectation. We're a department of about 40-50 people and the rest of the company looks at us like we're completely insane for working so much (because they don't have to).

    People sitting next to you give you crap every time you attempt to leave on time (whether you have work or not) and that's what's bugging the living s#&&t out of me. Almost like nagging wives (no offense).
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Addict Corobori's Avatar
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    Not sure if it's silly or not but in my years of my employee it didn't happened so many times that all my work was done in less than the daily amount of hours.
    That said what's happening when you're working an extra hour or more ? Are you coming in an hour late the following day ?
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corobori View Post
    That said what's happening when you're working an extra hour or more ? Are you coming in an hour late the following day ?
    HAHA. I wish. That's another thing. If I work 18 hours working on a deadline that has to be met no matter what, I don't really get to slack off the next day. Also, if I have to work 8 hours on Saturday or Sunday, no one mentions it the next Monday and you will never be offered an extra day off during the week. You basically have to fight for it, and if you do, you're an a*shole.

    The reason I'm staying here is because the benefits and the compensation are great, which most people in Michigan can't say that today. You lose your job in Michigan, and you're screwed.
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  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by foreigndude View Post
    The reason I'm staying here is because the benefits and the compensation are great, which most people in Michigan can't say that today. You lose your job in Michigan, and you're screwed.
    It sounds like they've got you right where they want you. In more competitive markets it's amazing to me that companies still try the approach you described. It's not impossible to get people to work long days, heck, I do it all the time, but keep employees satisfied (and therefore staying with the company) when you refuse to make them whole for going the extra mile doesn't cut it. Good pay and benefits are often a worthwhile trade-off for working more but it amazes me that some companies will do neither and then throw their arms up when people walk.

    I once remember having an interview with a fairly small etailer. I was new to being an "FTE" and wanted to work for him so bad I went in with a lowball salary requirement. It turns out my lowball was the highest salary any one in the office would have had. He expected long days from his employees and didn't have the cash to pay for it. To add injury to insult, he talked about being the next "ebay" (we've all heard that one from a small business) but refused to hand out equity or options on the basis that he didn't know where the company was going. Said another way, he wanted to be huge and have employees get him there but wasn't willing to pay for it now or later.
    - Ted S

  16. #16
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foreigndude View Post
    Actually, let me correct myself a bit - It's not the company's expectations. It's the "group's" expectation. We're a department of about 40-50 people and the rest of the company looks at us like we're completely insane for working so much (because they don't have to).

    People sitting next to you give you crap every time you attempt to leave on time (whether you have work or not) and that's what's bugging the living s#&&t out of me. Almost like nagging wives (no offense).
    Stop taking that then. If you hate it so much get another job, nobody forces you to work 60+ hours and you're letting your bosses and the rest of your department walk all over you.

    Think about this: when you're 50 are you going to want to remember working these insane hours? Or would you rather have a memory of telling your boss to shove it and living lean but being happy until the next job?

    Or even better, how about telling your boss to shove it, NOT losing your job, changing your department's culture, and maybe even getting a promotion because you're the only one out of 50 people with the cojones to stand up to a tyrant?

    You have a few options here, don't fail to exercise them because you want a paycheck, you stand to gain a lot more.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by vgarcia View Post
    Stop taking that then. If you hate it so much get another job, nobody forces you to work 60+ hours and you're letting your bosses and the rest of your department walk all over you.

    Think about this: when you're 50 are you going to want to remember working these insane hours? Or would you rather have a memory of telling your boss to shove it and living lean but being happy until the next job?
    Although there are still days when I pull loooong hours, sometimes week at a time, I did and still am improving. I started walking out at a decent time every day and what you gotta understand is that my boss is ok with that. He's a workaholic but he won't keep you there for no reason, unless crap breaks and hits the fan. It's some of the co-workers (in my case female) who are *****ing non-stop about how many hours they work vs. how many hours they work. It's not worth telling those people to shove it when I can just ignore it and carry on with my own business.

    In a nutshell, the management will not come into your office and say "Hey, time to go home." But they will not (at least in my case) stop you from doing it as long as the work is done.

    I actually quit my previous job because the management was micro managing us and the person in charge really had no clue about what we were there to do. She was a marketing manager put in charge of a web development group. It was the most miserable 3-4 months of my career and there was no way out but leave - which is exactly what I did. After I left, four other people quit the same way and for the same reason. If I saw her on the street today after three years, I'd still tell her to shove it up her ignorant ***.

    BTW vgarcia, I'm making it my personal goal to surpass your number of posts! :-)
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  18. #18
    I hate Spammers mobyme's Avatar
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    I employ eight people in-house with no formal hours but everybody is expected to deliver even if it means staying up to the early hours to deal with stuff in a different time zone. Personally I think chaining an employee to a desk is just about the most destructive thing an employer can do to an employees sense of worth. I have never had to sack anybody and we go from strength to strength as a company. Everybody is on a basic plus we have a share out of the profits at the end of the year which means everybody works their socks off to make it work. People often ask me how it all works so well and as I always say; it's about trust and respect. You give it and it's reciprocated. Do yourself a favour, get out of that dump and find yourself a position with a decent company whose management aren't still working by rules formulated in the dark ages.
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  19. #19
    I <3 Internet Tekime's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm the minority here, but being expected to work your schedule isn't strange at all. Keep in mind I don't know what your office is like, and the posters above bring up some really great reasons why it works better for some businesses to be more flexible.

    But what if you leave an hour early and the team has a question they need you to answer? What if you show up 30 minutes late and the boss has an important problem he needs your help with? What if you leave early because your particular role is an exception, and it creates resentment among the other employees? I can think of many reasons why this would bother your boss. I can continue if you wish.
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  20. #20
    Kiwi Fr00t jylyn's Avatar
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    I once had a boss who would be standing by the door looking pointedly at his watch if I arrived two minutes late. Yet every day I was still at my desk working for up to an hour after I was supposed to finish. One day I left early. Three hours early. And never went back.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Evangelist ramone_johnny's Avatar
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    I had a manager complain once about me being 4 minutes late for work.

    I quit the next day.

    RJ

  22. #22
    is craving 'the potato' slayerment's Avatar
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    Moby is dead on!

    It depends on the business somewhat, but I find this model extremely limiting and taxing on employees. The reason they do this is because they aren't smart enough to find your value and tie you in appropriately.

    Rather than have you work 3 hard hours on something that you enjoy and excel at they would rather you work 8 long hours where you are pissed the whole time. It comes down to bad business. They think that more hours = more productivity when in reality more productivity = more productivity.

    Again, a lot of this is preference for the business, but for my business I let people work whenever they want and judge solely on value. If somebody can do something in 10 minutes that is equal to what somebody accomplishes in 2 days I will pay them the same. I would rather somebody who finishes their tasks leave early than sit around and fester. Seriously, it saves everyone time.

    But then again, I hire people who enjoy packing in full days of hard work and make sure that they always have things to work on and enjoy each and every day. Most people managing webmasters know less than them about the tasks and don't know realistic timelines or which tasks to assign and therein lies a huge problem.

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard HarryR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tekime View Post
    But what if you leave an hour early and the team has a question they need you to answer? What if you show up 30 minutes late and the boss has an important problem he needs your help with? What if you leave early because your particular role is an exception, and it creates resentment among the other employees? I can think of many reasons why this would bother your boss. I can continue if you wish.
    It really depends on the kind of work you're doing, and to some extent the kind of person.

    I know I've had a lot of problems with this in the past because of various (medical/social) reasons I'm unable to be guarantee that I can come in at the same time every morning.

    Personally I think employers should always be a little flexible - as long as set times are met (e.g. meetings, interviews) and the job gets done.

    I can't see why leaving early some days would leave to others feeling resentful if it's on a flexi-time style agreement, I greatly prefer this kinda thing because it lets me get in to work at 10/11am and work until 8 or 9 in the evening instead of stumbling into work like a zombie at 9am and missing my most effecient work hours by going home at 5/6pm.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Member Greg-J's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vgarcia View Post
    Find a company that values results over the amount of time you're in a seat.
    I agree whole-heartedly.

    I generally have 1 to 3 developers working for me at any given time. I present a project to them and tell them what the deadline is and the pay. If they take it, I expect it to be done ahead of schedule. With the exception of one employee, it always is. I don't care how much or how little they work. I don't care what times they work. Just as long as they are available when I ask them to be and the work is quality and produce on time.

    If you're assigned tasks and you complete these tasks ahead of schedule, you should be paid more or work less. Being efficient should be a reward, not an inconvenience.

  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard HarryR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg-J View Post
    If you're assigned tasks and you complete these tasks ahead of schedule, you should be paid more or work less. Being efficient should be a reward, not an inconvenience.
    Very well said


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