Tech & Work

When flextime leads to resentment among techs, try these tips

Although flexible schedules are a perk for many IT professionals, they can lead employees to resent coworkers who seem to leave early or arrive late. This article offers members' advice for keeping flextime from becoming a problem in the office.


In his article “Getting your share of comp time,“ Jeff Davis examined how overworked IT professionals are rarely receiving comp time for working long hours. Many organizations are trying to offset the stress of long schedules by offering flexible daily hours in lieu of comp time. This practice, however, is creating problems of its own. According to a TechRepublic discussion, incongruities between employees’ schedules can give the impression that some employees are working less than others. This article outlines some suggestions for keeping the peace between early risers and night owls.

Leaving “early”
Thanks to flextime, the beginning and end of workdays have become ambiguous. In many organizations, employees are given a lot of flexibility with their working hours, but coworkers often conform to a “standard” that they define for themselves. Going against the grain can be problematic for individual employees. TechRepublic member grussell writes:
“I am a morning person, so I come in around 6:30 A.M. each morning to get work done when I'm most effective. Of course, this is long before any of my coworkers start arriving at 9:30 or 10:00 A.M. I put in an 11- to 12-hour day just as they do, but my coworkers seem to resent my leaving ‘early’ around 5:30 or 6:00 P.M.”

Several TechRepublic members agree on an easy solution to grussell’s dilemma. Fasthands suggests sending out nonchalant messages marking your arrival:
“Around 6:30 or 7 A.M., try sending a business-related e-mail to one or some of the people who resent your early departures. Maybe they'll notice the time stamp and realize that you're already working while they're still asleep!”

Robinsoe agrees with the e-mail time stamp but offers this condition:
“It shouldn't be a contrived message, but stuff that's integral to your job and your working relationship with each of them.”

Robinsoe also suggests that some coworkers may not catch the hint and will continue to complain about your “early” departure. “If they're really dense, you can find some way to emphasize the time of day by indirect references from time to time. An innocent, ‘Oh, didn't you see that I took care of that at 6:45 this morning? Didn't you see my e-mail?’ might be in order for the truly impervious.”

Be direct
Dropping hints might convince some resentful late risers, but you can also use the direct approach to win over your less observant coworkers. TechRepublic member nickpetry offers this advice:
“Tell them personally that you come in at 6:30 A.M. because it is so quiet and you get a lot done. Heck, maybe you’ll start seeing more coworkers early in the morning.”

In team-based environments where communication is paramount, a direct discussion about the issue might be the most effective approach. Mlmccutcheon writes:
“I think it might help if you advertise what results you are accomplishing. Possibly other people do not think you are working effectively in the early hours when there is no one watching.

“You could meet with a few of the coworkers and discuss the hours that everyone is working, the schedules, the deadlines, and the barriers, and frame the discussion around the impacts on current and future projects.”

Gicu Artistu thinks that, by design, team members need to know one another’s schedules. By exchanging schedules, the team knows when and where to contact one another. With this practice in place, there should be no questions about whether or not colleagues are putting in enough time.

Quality, not quantity
Extensive hours are just part of the job description for many IT professionals. But if the time isn’t productive or doesn’t benefit the organization, there’s an obvious problem at hand. Steven Risner works with an individual who comes in early in the morning and leaves late in the evening, but the coworker spends the early hours surfing the Internet for personal reasons.
“Yes, the managers have taken notice of how much time is being spent on site. However, they are slowly realizing that quality is more important than quantity.”

Member grussell agrees that quality time should count most, but quantity often wins.
“Sometimes the people who [Risner] describes seem to have a knack for getting noticed for the hours, not the work….another reason, I guess, for making sure you get credit for the work you do and when you do it.”
While most people would consider flexible schedules to be cherished perks, this article shows that they can create problems. Join the discussion or drop us an e-mail and share your thoughts and advice on grappling with the issues surrounding workday schedules.

Editor's Picks