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How to Come in Late to the Office

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It’s 10:30 AM on a Thursday. Having workshifted from home to attend an early online meeting with my teammates in Germany, I drive in to the office mid-morning. How should I make my entrance?

  1. Loudly call out “Good morning, everybody!” and wave broadly as I walk to my desk.
  2. Tiptoe in and hope that nobody notices me coming in late.
  3. Act as if I’ve been at work all morning and am just returning to my desk from a meeting.

I prefer option C. I don’t want to disturb people who have settled into productive work, but I also don’t want to appear ashamed of workshifting. Besides, I truly had already started my workday like they had, just not from the same location.

So I walk in calmly, smile and nod at people who catch my eye and quickly sit down to work.

Notice anything different from the usual work arrival routine?

  • I don’t say hello to everyone I pass by.While that’s the friendly thing to do first thing in the morning when everyone else is arriving, it could be disruptive at a later time, when people are immersed in their work. Instead, I greet people later, when we meet to collaborate or run into each other in the kitchen or hall. Some days I don’t talk to my cubicle neighbors until they are leaving for the day. They don’t mind a bit. (And yes, we’re still friends.)
  • I don’t dump my stuff at my desk and then go to the kitchen for a beverage. If I didn’t pick one up on my way in (hey, now that would be smart!), I may wait awhile until I’m actually thirsty. This avoids immediate repeat traffic past my officemates. It’s not like I need some juice to wake me up anyway, since I’ve already been up for hours.
  • I don’t stop to check in with my boss.This is a moot point for me, since my boss works in a different city and embraces results-based management. However, if I did have an on-premise boss, I would have sent him an email that morning or the day before to inform him of my late arrival.
  • I don’t stop to check on my direct reports.They’ve already been informed via email that I’d be coming in late, so they know they can stop by and see me after I arrive. I may stop by their desks to see them later, but I see no reason to interrupt their work just to assure them of my presence. Besides, they may not be in the office themselves, since they workshift, too. My one exception might be with a new team member or an intern who might need more direct supervision.
  • I do start working faster than I might in the early AM.Why waste a productive time of day to follow a routine that was created to help me wake up? By 10:30 I’m well awake and running at full power. (Ideally, I should start my early morning work the same way, but that’s just not realistic for most of us – at least not for a late-night reader like me.)
  • Is all this really necessary? What’s the harm in creating a little disruption for the sake of workshifting? Well, the point of workshifting is to increase both flexibility and productivity. My co-workers shouldn’t have to sacrifice their productivity for the sake of my flexibility, or else my workshifting may become the next sacrifice.

Also, showing consideration for my colleagues helps to assuage my workshifter’s guilt. Even though I know I’m doing what’s best for both me and my company by taking an early meeting from home, I still feel secretly guilty that I have this privilege. The least I can do is respect their productivity.

It’s either that or bring doughnuts.

Photo credit: bgolub

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Gayle Turner
Gayle Turner is well accustomed to adapting to new work environments. Since she started working as an editor at Citrix in 2004, her work station has been moved 10 times. She also works at home a few days per week to reduce commuting time and spend more time with her family. A mother of two, she once managed to change a diaper during an online meeting without anyone noticing. Gayle’s editorial career has included preparing medieval and Renaissance texts for publication, writing and editing abstracts from American history periodicals and working on marketing copy and user guides for commercial software. She currently manages the Writing and Editorial Services team at the Online Services division of Citrix.
  • http://www.nterprisesonline.com/ Natalya I. Sabga

    Gayle, I think you accurately and eloquently “exposed” the true life of every workshifter who straddles the workshifting lifestyle  and blends it with a more standard work environment. Great article, LOVED it!

  • Robert Mares

    Hi Gayle, just read your article and love it. In the Netherlands we call it smarter working, smarter travelling (slimmer werken, slimmer reizen, #SWSR on twitter). The experiences here are much the same: coming in late and doubting how to make the entrance. One of the  #SWSR goals is to reduce traffic jam in the morning and at the end of the day. At the moment online meeting is not as common in Holland as in the US. 
    I would like to get in contact with you about sharing experiences.