When half an hour is greater than 14.5 hours

Heard a wonderful story last week from a developer friend of mine and thought I’d share (with commentary of course!).

He had taken a full-time job at an organization as a Senior .NET developer and was working an average of 55 hours a week for them. He liked the work he was doing but wasn’t too keen on the ‘punch-in/punch-out’ timeclock that they used to track all employees. Nonetheless, he was happy…it was interesting work and good pay.

At the end of his third week there, he decided to head out early one Friday afternoon and get an early start on the weekend. He ‘clocked out’ 1/2 hour early and enjoyed his weekend.

Monday morning comes along and what does he find in his email? A message from his boss stating that he would need to stay an extra 1/2 hour to make up for the previous week. He went to see his boss figuring it might be an automated message from HR but was told that he was expected to work a minimum eight hour day and would need to make up the time.

His response to his boss? A respectful question about the additional 14.5 hours he had worked the previous week and why those hours didn’t make up for early departure the previous week. ‘

The response from his boss is classic ignorance: “we pay you for 8 hours a day…we expect a full 8 hour day from you“. It also shows his ignorance in math…..since when did 0.5 become greater than 14.5 (the number of hours he worked in addition to the 40 hours)?

Needless to say, my friend resigned and is now working as a contractor being paid hourly for the work that he does.

His boss, and the company that he had worked for, were a classic example of the ‘old school’ business management mindset: You must be in your chair for 8 hours a day to do your job. This is so wrong…especially with the research studies that are coming out left and right (see this post and this one).

2 responses to “When half an hour is greater than 14.5 hours”

  1. Michael Schaffner Avatar


    I’ve had a similar experience. Early in my career I was working at a company the was going through some rough times. Most people understood the situation and were on their own initiative routinely working 10 hour days. That is until the CEO had a great idea that all salaried people needed to contribute to the turn around and everyone was required to put in an extra 1/2 hour per day or an 8-1/2 hour work day. As everyone was already doing this and more they were offended by the tone of the edict and as a result they happily cut back to only 8-1/2 hours! So much for giving people some leeway in getting their work done.


  2. Eric D. Brown Avatar
    Eric D. Brown

    Mike – Great story…I ran across a similar situation back during the telecom ‘bust’. Our EVP declared that everyone must work 9 hours a day to ‘get the ship going again’….everyone was already busting their hump working 10 to 12 hours a day and the EVP’s edict was met with disdain.

    Needless to say most people stopped putting in the extra hours and only worked the ‘required’ hours.