What Your Manager Really Thinks About Flex Time

Show up for work early, and you’re a go-getter. Make the coffee, and you’re a hero. Bring donuts once in a while, and suddenly everyone loves you.

But what happens if you show up late and work late? Too bad—your manager might hate you, even if you spend your time working hard while your go-getting co-worker just showed up at 6AM to read the sports pages for two hours. Managers suffer from “morning bias”.

These are the unhappy finding of a study due later this year in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Researchers surveyed 229 employee/manager pairs, mostly in the US. They looked at average arrival time at work (it ranged from 5AM to 9:45am, with an average of 8:47am), and then measured that against employee performance reviews. On average, the later an employee arrived, the worse they were reviewed.

In another experiment, students at a US university were given the role of manager at a fictional company and rate employee’s job performance. They were given identical profiles—in the sense that both profiles described the employee’s total hours and job performance the same—but with different start times. Students rated the later-starting employees as worse, despite the fact that their job performance and total hours worked were exactly the same.

So, what’s a guy to do? Start showing up early—because if there’s one constant in the workforce, you’ll never be able to show an irrational manager that they’re irrational. And maybe start brining donuts.

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