If you’re just starting out in your career it may seem expected to work after everyone is clocked out for the day. First, you’re already playing catch-up with the rest of your colleagues. Also, it gives a sense of authority and importance to be working the same hours as your superiors. The other thing to consider is that late hours are not as highly trafficked as daylight hours. It’s assumed that it may be better for networking, or getting ahead of your peers. Believe it or not, some CEO’s work a normal 8 hour work day, and clock out when the sun is still up.
Arianna Huffington has talked about long work hours and how it can effect performance and happiness. Her belief is that to succeed, you need to get more sleep. This is a great theory, and a great reason for her success. I believe there is a time and place to work after hours, and it’s all circumstantial.
So, when should you work late?
- Systems that you monitor are crashing, and they need to be online and available to the public, or other colleagues.
- There’s a campaign or system update; most times these have to be done after hours when traffic may be lighter.
- You’re behind on work that should be completed by the next day.
- You’re researching for professional development.
- You genuinely enjoy what you do; this is fine to keep working as long as it’s not a nightly recurrence.
- It’s a required part of your job to be available at specific after hours times during the week.
- It’s the only time a colleague, or business associate can meet with you.
If your boss asks you to work late every now and then, plan for it. Good managers won’t try to strain your relationship with them or the company, and usually only ask when it’s absolutely necessary. Don’t compare yourself to other co-workers. While they’re working late doesn’t go unnoticed by their boss, they could very well be doing it because they slacked off on something early on in the day. Focus on your set of tasks and responsibilities, and if you’re not sure when to work late then ask your boss.
Ready When You Are
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