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Choosing your work schedule

Choosing your work scheduleImage Credit: Supplied

With many employers offering flexible work hours as an option, there is a definite advantage for workers who may choose to start their day late for one reason or another. Although these workers probably still do the required number of hours by staying later in the office or working remotely, they may not be seen as good as the office early birds, however.

A recent study by the University of Washington found that managers typically have a ''morning bias,'' which means they associate starting work early with conscientiousness, and think of employees who have an early start as the most reliable and conscientious. The study that covered 229 employee/manager pairs found that those who started work later were rated worse regardless of their performance.

These finding could be alarming for both workers and managers. As a worker, it could be an unfortunate that you unconsciously place yourself in a negative light for working a schedule that is agreed and generally acceptable. Managers also should be aware of this prejudice, and try to not let it cloud their assessment of those who start their work days later.

For both groups, here are a few points to keep in mind:

Make the right choice

Many choose to work a late schedule to avoid traffic, fit child care or any other reason that makes a late start a more convenient choice. Others could just not be ''morning people.'' They would rather start the work days later and work into the early hours of the evening. Regardless of why you decide a late schedule is a better choice, try to work out an agreement with your supervisors to avoid any misunderstanding. In addition, try to avoid extremes. If starting an hour later than others fulfils your needs, don't push for two. The smaller the gap, the less likely it will be noted by your supervisor.

Focus on performance

Although it is your manager's duty to remain focused on your performance, don't overlook your ability to help with bringing your achievements into the light. Don't be shy to highlight your completed goals, explain what your next steps will be and your long-term objectives. Working in silence is typically appreciated, but could be easily missed. If your efforts are at risk of going unnoticed because of your schedule, make sure that they are known and recognised.

Keep track of schedules

Nothing brings to attention the absence of someone as much as pending and completed tasks. If you decide to work on a late schedule, be conscious of what you owe the office's early birds. Don't let them wait several hours for your arrival later for something that could have been done on the previous day. Although that may not help much with your supervisor's prejudices, it will negate any claims that your schedule is an actual hurdle in getting work done smoothly. In addition, if your start of the day is significantly later than others, try to keep an eye out for any morning crisis. Although you may not be on duty, glancing at your email or answering an urgent phone call before work hours could be appreciated if it helps others get their work without delays.

Talk it over

If you have concerns that whether your schedule is contributing to a negative perception of your performance, bring the topic to the table and discuss it with your supervisor. Your goal should be to lay out the schedule, reaffirm that you still work at least the minimum number of mandatory work hours, and set plans for how to avoid any inconvenience or impact on the work. By doing so, you have documented your concerns and, hopefully, you will be able to reach an agreement with your managers that helps you avoid any future backlash.

Stick to your schedule

Predictability is a key factor in instilling confidence. Regardless of which schedule you work, try not to switch back and forth too often. Co-workers and supervisors alike will have an easier time adapting to your schedule if it's predictable and consistent. Your late start probably won't relieve you from some meetings, so make sure you always keep these and generally be an example of punctuality in your chosen work hours.

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to

Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor