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Micromanage My Hours And You’ll Regret It For Months

, , , , , , , | Working | September 12, 2022

This happened just before I quit my last job, some four years ago. I was working with the largest IT company in my country. It is known for being employee-friendly, with very relaxed working hours and good perks and emoluments (pay). However, the delivery head of our project (our boss) had a totally different outlook.

Officially, we were supposed to work from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, but nobody stressed about it because clocking in a total of forty-five hours a week was the only compliance required. (Yes, in India, that is a rather lenient number.) Personally, I liked to work until late, since there was less traffic while returning home, so I’d go to work by 10:00 or 10:30. The client never used to bother us before 11:00. That’s not very disciplinary on my part, I know, but that was the general trend in that company.

This boss guy suddenly decided to become draconian about punctuality with office hours. He declared that everyone was expected to be at their workstations by 9:00.” Nonetheless, all of us complied saying, “If forty-five hours is the only rule, so be it.”

In my team, I was the last person to leave every day, so I had voluntarily taken up a few extra technical responsibilities that needed to be addressed only after everyone signed off and after the client was done for the day (which was never before 8:00). As you can guess, it immediately became chaotic when I began arriving at 9:00 and leaving at 6:00 every day.

Needless to say, the boss was helplessly out of his wits and had to stay back himself most of the nights for a week to wrap up the closing tasks. (He always used to leave by 6:00 before this.) He was neither much acquainted with the standard operating procedures nor could he gather aid from any of his staff, so he really found himself in a mess.

They could’ve simply reinstated our work hours. Instead, this is what they did one fine evening.

Boss: “Why are you leaving now?”

Me: “I’m done for the day. It’s 6:30 already.”

Boss: “Who will do the [technical responsibilities]?”

Me: “But then I’d have to stay for another two hours.”

Boss: “Okay, let’s see. During the last one month, you have come to work after 10:00 every day. That’s twenty to twenty-two hours of deficiency.”

I couldn’t decide if I should laugh or be infuriated at his nonsensical statement.

Me: “But I’ve worked until 8:30 pm every day, so not only is that incorrect, but I’ve actually worked twenty to twenty-two hours more, for which I should claim overtime payment.”

Boss: “Then why didn’t you? Anyway, that’s a separate topic altogether. Starting tomorrow, you’re either coming an hour early or staying an hour late, for a whole month, to compensate for your deficiency.”

This called for some malicious compliance!

At that time, I was preparing for another high-paying job in the government sector that required an immensely tough competitive exam to be cleared, for which I needed to put a lot of effort and time into studying and researching. The exams were due in a month and I was struggling as I used to get home late. So, I saw this as the optimal opportunity — a “kill two birds with a stone” situation. I decided to comply.

I began to clock in at 8:00 every day and study and research vigorously for an hour without any disturbance as nobody came in at 8:00, using the company’s Internet, printer, stationeries, and whatever other utilities were required. I managed to begin my workday by 9:00. For a whole month, I fueled my exam preparation from the company’s resources. And yes, I claimed full overtime payment, too!

To be honest, a lot of times, I used to feel guilty about this, but the pleasure I got from submitting my resignation letter after I got the job I was preparing for was a wholesome, out-of-this-world feeling!

A couple of months after I left, I was catching up with some old coworkers. The state of my team, I came to learn, was sad.

I had been working as the UI Team Lead and also a secondary Database Admin. Following my resignation, the DBA had to immediately hire a replacement. Another coworker had followed suit within three weeks of my quitting because of the boss’s strict time adherence policy. As for my UI team, the last I heard, they had split up the team in two, promoted two employees from each team to take charge of the respective teams, and hired two interns as permanent employees. That did cost the company, but in hindsight, my quitting generated employment, however minuscule it was!