Productivity and Office Overtime

Fridays are tip days at SimpleProductivityBlog. But I’m taking a detour today.

Photo by Dave-F

A co-worker was recently complaining to me about how he was staying late every night. He explained to me he was doing it because another coworker was staying late, and he felt he had to stay to support her. He confided he didn’t come in every weekend as she was wont to do, though.

Another co-worker is continually overhear complaining (bragging?) about how late he works every night. Yet every time I see or hear him at work, he is talking about non-work issues (for 45 minutes at a stretch) or smoking outside or arranging lunches.

To me, if you have to stay late consistently, it points to one of two things:

  1. You are not efficient, and you are not getting your work done in the time allotted.
  2. The workload is too heavy for one person.

In both cases, management needs to be aware of these things and correct the root causes. One is just wasting company resources, and the other is going to lead to burnout. (I’ll let you guess which is which)

One of the reasons I am hourly is because I want to get paid for the hours I work. I will work more if there is a need, but my supervisors, past and present, think twice before asking me to work more than my scheduled time, because there is a known cost to my hours. When I was a consultant, we called this a burn rate, as in the money the company was burning if they were not utilizing me while I was on site. Salaried employees do not have that luxury of a visible burn rate.

I don’t have any suggestions for how to approach this situation, because I have always been in a position where I was paid for the hours I worked. Do any of you have any suggestions on how to curb unreasonable overtime?

Photo by Dave-F


  1. LJ Earnest says

    Just so everyone knows, I held off on publishing this article until after the two co-workers mentioned left the company. One left because of the crazy hours he was working, and the other was quietly “downsized”.