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how ought to I deal with my downtime once I’m working from house? — Ask a Supervisor


A reader writes:

Within the Earlier than Instances (when a overwhelming majority of us went to a different location for work), while you arrived was the beginning of your day. Now with many individuals being hybrid, begin instances appear a bit of extra fluid and I’m questioning what the “proper/moral” technique to function is. For reference, I’m a salaried worker for my firm, however I’m a contractor for the federal government. This implies my hours labored have to be tracked way more aggressively than a traditional salaried particular person (and why I’m having questions on this to start with). My job revolves round modifying, so it’s an ebb and stream of being SO BUSY after which not.

For instance, I make money working from home 4 days and go into an workplace 1 day per week. My begin time on WFH is 7:30 am once I lean over to my nightstand and test my work cellphone for emails, after which (relying on if I’ve emails or not) I’ll stand up or keep in mattress a bit of longer. On the times I’ve work ready for me, I’ll shortly begin my work day however on the times I don’t … I’ll keep in mattress till one thing is available in (which might be a couple of minutes as much as an hour).

My boss and coworkers have by no means stated something about my begin instances or something so that is purely me questioning if what I’m doing is moral. You’ve written earlier than about being accessible to do duties and technically talking I’m accessible at 7:30 am. Simply generally … there’s nothing ready for me and I can sleep longer (or watch TV, or make elaborate breakfast, and many others). And on the times I’m going into the workplace, I’m checking my work telephone, then preparing, then checking my work telephone and leaping within the automobile, then checking work telephone and ready for the bus, and many others. So once more, I’m “ready” for work. (Though on days I’m going into the workplace, if I used to be given one thing to do RIGHT THIS SECOND I won’t be capable of do it however I can reply and say I’ll get on it as soon as I arrive at work.)

I imagine different persons are doing the identical factor I’m at my job, however I can’t precisely ask, “Hey, are you additionally sleeping in longer when there’s nothing to do?” I end my duties and I’ve been advised I do good work so I’m not frightened that I’m doing one thing improper, however having a piece cellphone has made my clock-in/clock-out a lot tougher to pinpoint. I’m “accessible” 40 hrs per week however some days if I didn’t roll off the bed till midday (not work from mattress — like really laying in mattress not working), nobody would know since there wasn’t work for me to do. I don’t assume I’m working in dangerous religion however perhaps I want a actuality test?

Personally, I believe that in case you’re getting all of your work achieved, can be found when wanted, and your employer is glad along with your work, what you’re doing is okay. Once you’re within the workplace, it’s most unlikely that you simply’re being productive each single minute — a lot of individuals have jobs the place the work ebbs and flows all through the day (or all through the week, month, quarter, or yr) and through their slower instances spend that downtime chatting with coworkers, studying the information, and so forth. Once you make money working from home, that very same downtime can really feel such as you’re by some means dishonest the system, nevertheless it’s not likely that totally different from downtime on the workplace — the distinction is simply that you simply’re spending it in mattress somewhat than lingering within the workplace kitchen chatting to a colleague or related. It feels extra decadent (you’re at house! you’re in mattress! it’s extra stress-free!) however the sensible impact in your work is just about the identical.

That’s not the case in each scenario, in fact. There are individuals who have extra downtime after they make money working from home as a result of they’re intentionally slacking and avoiding work, which isn’t okay. (I imply, it is perhaps okay inside a broader anti-capitalist ethical framework, nevertheless it’s not okay within the sense that you simply’re violating an settlement you’ve made in trade for cash, probably inflicting your coworkers to have to choose up your slack, and many others.) However that doesn’t sound such as you.

I do assume it’s price asking your self if there’s a possibility value to what you’re doing — like perhaps you’re getting all of the must-do’s accomplished however you could possibly be spending that further time on extra optionally available stuff that may produce stronger leads to your work or place you higher in your profession. If it finally ends up which means that you simply’re merely okay at your job when you could possibly have been nice at it, do you care? Striving for nice somewhat than okay can have important long-term advantages like getting you extra money, higher initiatives, higher jobs, and extra political clout, which all have a direct influence in your high quality of life (and can be utilized to make different individuals’s lives higher too, for that matter). Alternatively, some individuals go above and past and by no means get rewarded for it — or just aren’t within the trade-offs that may be required — so I’m extra hesitant than I was to push individuals in that path. Both approach, I’d say to get clear in your head on (a) whether or not there’s a possibility value and (b) how a lot you care if there may be. (How a lot your supervisor could care sooner or later can also be helpful to issue into your pondering.)

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