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Navigating Work Hours and Discussing Overtime with Management

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Microsofta month ago

Hi Taro Community,

I'm wrestling with a question about work hours that perhaps many of you have also encountered. Is it generally advisable to stick strictly to an 8-hour workday, or is it acceptable to work more when necessary? Specifically, if the tasks at hand don't get completed within the standard 8-hour window, should I extend my hours into the night to resolve issues?

Here's my dilemma: I've found myself working additional hours at night to tackle pending tasks. While this has helped me keep up with my workload, I'm unsure about the implications of this practice:

  • Should I expect acknowledgment or appreciation from my manager for these extra efforts?
  • Is it beneficial to communicate my extended hours to my manager, and could it potentially influence decisions regarding bonuses or other forms of recognition?
  • How do managers typically view overtime work, and what is the balance between demonstrating dedication and setting healthy work boundaries?

I'd appreciate any guidance or personal experiences you can share on handling overtime work and how to approach discussions about it with management.

Thank you for your insights.



  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    This is a classic question, and my answer is: Focus on impact. This is even more relevant since you're working at Microsoft, one of the best tech companies in the world, which is much more likely to have the correct view of productivity.

    At the end of the day, a good manager/organization doesn't care if you get the work done and the impact landed in 2 hours or 200 hours. What matters is that you get it done. This was very much the case at Meta:

    • If you could get everything done (and extra) working just 5 hour days, all the more power to you.
    • In fact, if you don't get your work done but you're able to come up with a different project instead that is higher impact, even more power to you!

    This is why I don't think bringing up your extra hours to your manager will make you look better. If you need the extra time just to finish your assigned tasks properly, your manager might get worried and wonder why you're inefficient. Regardless, if you are facing burnout, you should 100% bring this up with your manager. Maybe they can give you tips on how to work better, like with prioritization.

    When you run into the classic dilemma of "Too much work, not enough time", you have 2 big options:

    1. Become more efficient - Learn to get more out of your day. Start off with this: [Masterclass] How To Write Better Code Faster As A Software Engineer
    2. Cut scope - This one is much harder, but it simply has to be done a lot of the time. At a top tech company like Microsoft, there's no shortage of overly ambitious people underestimating projects. Here's a good thread about how to push back: "What are good strategies to push back when the deadline is not realistic?"

    Lastly, most tech companies are required to have an overtime policy by law, but 99.99% of the time, you don't get paid for overtime. Most engineers are salaried, and the overtime effectively happens under the table.

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    Staff Eng @ Google, Ex-Meta SWE, Ex-Amazon SDM/SDE
    a month ago

    Should I expect acknowledgment or appreciation from my manager for these extra efforts?

    No. You are working more. They didn’t ask you to, and even if they did it was up to you. If you said you’re going to put in extra hours for a month to solve some huge problem and you do solve it, you will get credit for solving the problem, not the extra hours.

    Is it beneficial to communicate my extended hours to my manager…?

    Probably no. I think you need to figure out if the team is all over-worked, or if everyone else is working sanely and you are not, and figure out why if the latter. Alex mentioned focus and efficiency. If your tasks are mis-scoped communicate that. You’re not getting a bonus for working extra hours.

    How do managers typically view overtime?

    If you’re exempt, it’s not "overtime". But in terms of working many extra hours… I would prefer you didn’t. If you boost productivity in the short term, you’ll set incorrect expectations on what you and your team can deliver, and you’ll get stuck in a cycle. Your work quality will decline, your productivity will drop, and your team will be even more overextended. Work at a sustainable pace, and set expectations accordingly. If your workload can’t be done sustainably, that needs fixing. Again, if it’s just you maybe you need new approaches. If it’s your whole team you need your manager to know and fix it.

Microsoft is an American technology corporation which produces computer software, consumer electronics, and personal computers. It developed the Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers. Microsoft is often credited for ushering in the modern PC era.
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