How to avoid the stay-late culture

Roxanne Chand

December 21, 2016


Let me start this article off with a few simple questions…

How many hours are you contracted to work each week? And how many hours do you actually work?

Let me guess, you work more than you’re contracted to do and you feel that sometimes there is more to do than there is time allocated to do it. Unfortunately, that’s the reality for some and instead of speaking up; you have instead decided to expand your workday to tackle this issue.

Don’t worry you’re not alone!

Nearly two-thirds of organisations within the UK have reported that their employees have worked more hours than they are expected to.

This is a result of our global connected world. There is no off switch. There are high expectations from customers, clients, partners and colleagues who all want an immediate response. That’s why this stay-late culture is an ever-growing trend.

When working longer hours becomes the norm there can be serious consequences not just in your personal life, but to your health also.

So what can you do to create a healthier work-life balance?

Prioritise your workload

We all want to look great in our boss’s eyes and push the boundaries to be successful. But sometimes you just have to step back and figure out what your overall goal is and whether certain projects can wait. By understanding your priorities you will be able to breakdown your workload and set suitable timeframes to achieve the goals you have set out.

Stop checking you emails after 7pm

This is something I think we are all guilty of. However, set boundaries as to when your workday needs to end. I personally like to read through emails the night before to see what I have coming up the next day. However, I find by doing so I end up working more than I should. So, I have now decided that I will not check any emails after 7pm. This cut off point helps gives me the balance I need. Since starting at Virgin Media, I rarely look at my emails after I leave work and when I do, I don’t reply to any until the next day.

Having a healthy home life is just as important as a healthy work life.

Speak to your boss

Opening up a clear dialogue between you and your boss will enable you to discuss any issues or questions you may have. This transparency is essential to having a great working relationship. There is never going to be a solution to your working late problem unless you speak up.

Stop feeling guilty for going home on time

This is something that used to worry me so much when I first started working. I would see everyone still sitting at their desks 30-40 minutes later than they should be and I never wanted to be the first one to go home. Which resulted in me staying even later than necessary. This is one thing I love about my job here at Virgin Media; I can work my hours and go home without guilt. I get my job done and go home when I should. We have great flexibility when it comes to work hours and you’re not pressured to work late. It’s more about how productive you can be during your core working hours, rather than working late to catch up.

Get help

Asking for help is not a bad thing. Knowing that you’re snowed under and need assistance is a step closer to fixing the problem. It may not be simple to do or you may not like needing the help of others, but sometimes it’s necessary to get the job done. Ask your team if you can share the workload or speak with your boss and figure out an alternative solution.

Discuss with family or those that are affected by you working late

How many plans have you cancelled because you’ve had to work late? Sometimes we are so blind to the truth that a healthy dose of ‘I told you so’ is needed. If you’re working late hours and it’s affecting your personal life, the people you need to speak with are at home waiting for you. It’s not an easy conversation, but understanding the implications of your actions will help you to see that you need to make better decisions to lead a healthier life. Your friends and family are the people who will be open and honest with you.

Don’t make working late a normal part of everyday life. Make it a rare occasion and have a better work life balance.

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