No one goes home before the boss, huh?
In The Intern, Robert De Niro’s Ben never left the office until his boss, Anne Hathaway’s Jules, was ready to go home. When asked why, especially since his own deliverables were finished, he simply said, “Can’t leave before the boss leaves.”
Now as adorable as Robert De Niro was in the film, Ben’s reasoning was a little odd. Why would someone sit around the office when they had nothing to do? Research suggests that common reasons for rendering OT are as follows:
- Striver syndrome AKA “I want to impress my boss”
- OT pay AKA “I have expenses that my base salary doesn’t cover” and
- Actual work that needs to be finished
“I want to impress my boss”
The truth is that staying as long as your boss does in the office is no longer a sign of dedication. Studies have shown that there are only two reasons as to why employees stay longer than the standard 9 hours; that is, they’re either inefficient or there really is a problem with manpower.
So ask yourself: Are you staying late just because you think it will look impressive to the bosses? If so, consider this: Your bosses know your workload and are probably aware of any under-manning issues. So if they still see you after-hours and can determine it shouldn’t keep you in the office until after 6PM, what else could they possibly think? Tbh, it’s probably that you can’t handle your workload.
“I have expenses my base salary doesn’t cover”
Ever heard of living within your means? Just kidding; we all know it gets difficult to stretch out a finite sum of money in what seems to be a world of infinite expenses. But if you’re stuck clocking in another hour at work just so you can afford your dinner and a ride home, maybe you should set your eyes on a different problem.
Talk to your boss about a raise or look for a job that’s a little closer to home. Stop buying two cups of coffee a day and acquire a taste for beer instead of cocktails. Maybe stop drinking altogether? Shudders.
There’s actual work to be done
This cannot be helped. Sometimes there really are just too many meetings in a day and too many Excel sheets to review. But there is a difference between sometimes and all the time. It makes total sense for you to stay later if you have a big presentation or if it’s the dreaded self-evaluation season. But if you see yourself always working overtime, there’s definitely something wrong.
Maybe your team needs to hire someone else to help with the workload. Maybe the split of work just isn’t fair anymore. Or maybe you’re spending too much time talking to your seatmate and checking social media—we’re not pointing fingers here, but it’s definitely possible.
A Stanford study has found that those who render more than 50 hours of work per week tend to produce less output per succeeding hour. Likewise, it was found that in some cases, less required hours actually increased levels of productivity.
Still not convinced? Still thinking of staying the extra two or three hours in the office? Still think it will win you some brownie points? Well, you’re stubborn aren’t you.
There is one more thing to consider: We all deserve work-life balance. So—if anything—you should remember that an extra thousand pesos doesn't beat having dinner at home with family or friends.
Art Alexandra Lara