The Office

Do I Have to Keep Up with My Boss’s Work Hours?

Dear DW,

The head of sales promotion at my firm is a self-proclaimed early bird, churning out emails at 7 a.m. Do I need to keep up to be seen as a team player?

Signed,
Late Bird Losing the Worm

Dear Late Bird,

It’s not unusual for employees to feel pressured to be available outside “normal” working hours in order to succeed in their current role. “When you have a boss who works late or starts early, the temptation to match your work hours to your manager’s makes sense,” says Chantal Pierrat, an executive coach based in Boulder, Colorado. “You want your manager to know you are engaged, passionate, and ‘in it’ with them.”

But you can show that you are engaged through the work you do rather than the hours during which you respond to email. “If women keep saying ‘yes’ to being available at all hours, we will continue to create the culture of workaholism and burnout that is not sustainable for anybody,” Pierrat says. Instead, “be brave enough to set boundaries so that you can bring the very best of yourself—resourced, energized, passionate—to the work that you do.”

Of course, it makes sense to check in regularly with your boss to be sure she is happy with your work and that you are meeting expectations. Also, be willing to go the extra mile and stay late if, for example, there is a work crisis that must be handled. However, if 7 a.m. doesn’t work for you on a regular basis, Pierrat recommends you share with your team and manager that it’s a time when you are unavailable for communication. “When women are in touch with what is most important to them at this phase of their work life,” she says, “they can use that as a North Star to decide what work habits best support them.”



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