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Working late is less optional than you think

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “Management keeps pushing me to work longer hours, but I don’t believe this is necessary. I think they just want to get more out of me. The technology company where I work has recently begun outsourcing jobs to other countries, so they apparently don’t plan to hire more people here.

“A few months ago, I finally refused to stay late anymore, citing the need to spend time with my family. Since then, I have been deliberately sidelined from important projects. My last performance review included negative comments about my unwillingness to work extra hours.

“Under normal circumstances, I would look for another position, but right now the job market for people in my field is very tight. I can’t afford to lose my paycheck, so what should I do?”  Resentful

Answer: You appear to have a serious case of tunnel vision, so let me try to expand your view. Positions in your field are scarce, your company is sending work out of the country, and you can’t afford to be unemployed. Does this seem like a good time to battle with management about working hours?

In the business world, professional people are typically expected to work more than their scheduled 40 hours per week. This is especially true in technology companies, which have always had a “do whatever it takes” culture.

If you routinely head for home while everyone else is still plugging away, you will look like a slacker, even if you’re not. And your personal “no overtime” rule will be viewed as a lack of team spirit. If employees in your field were in short supply, you might have more leverage, but that's apparently not the case right now.

Your exclusion from projects and negative performance review represent serious warning signs. These factors could easily put you at the top of a layoff list, so you might want to reevaluate your position on working late. And you might want to do it quickly.

Want to increase your job security? Here's the way to do it: How to Avoid Losing Your Job.   

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