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Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour

 
#1 Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
07/07/2015 10:13

Bushy Eyebrow Partner

OK, this one is for all you young 'uns out there.

We know how difficult it can be to leave the office at a sensible hour, when you're working in an open-plan office full of masochists who want to get promoted. Even worse when you're the only guy on the team working in the home office and the others couldn't care less whether they spend all night in the office or all night back in their hotel talking shop with the rest of the team.

So, lets share our collective wisdom by answering the following:

What's the best tactic you have for getting out of the office at 5pm prompt, every evening - and without it putting you in the firing line during the next "up our out" session?

Cheers, people of the 'net.

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#2 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
07/07/2015 11:53

Jack Black to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#1)

Best tactic for me is to have plans. I run/gym/exercise regularly and I'm damned if I am doing it at 10pm when I leave the office. I make plans to train around 6.30pm, which means leaving an hour or so before then and if I really need to login when I get back to the hotel then I will do so.

It also helps that some of the senior team I am working with are keen on keeping fit, often my plans will include them.

Most important however, if you are going to leave 'early', is to ensure the times when you are at work you are productive. People stop caring what time you leave if you produce good work for the client/colleagues on a consistent basis.

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#3 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
07/07/2015 16:44

Phil to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#1)

There is very little you can do, especially as a junior, it is all down to company culture. If you work in an environment where the focus is on the output rather than on other fluff you are more likely to make it.

Having said that, and despite being an advocate of the importance of maintaining a good work/life balance to last long in this industry (at least I like to think I am), I have to say that leaving every day at 5pm is not what I would call 'reasonable'.

Especially at a junior level, essentially what you are selling to a client is a resource which is both smarter (ie. can do things quicker and more effectively than an average person) AND willing to work harder than their average employee. This does not mean staying until 10pm for no reason but frankly shutting the laptop at 5pm is not acceptable, at least in this industry. There are plenty where it is, but this usually comes with a 20/30% pay cut (or, at least, it should. If this is not the case and the pay is c*ap then it's another story).

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#4 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
07/07/2015 19:02

Anon MCs to Phil (#3)

I think Mars can probably add a good update here, nonetheless;

From an MC point of view, I think Phil has in general got it right.

When a Programme Director or Business XXX brings in multiple ~£1k a day MC boys, if they arrive at 0900 and leave at 1700, he or she is quickly going to show you the door.

They will think what we all think "at £250k billing a year per person, I can get a couple of sh!t hot analysts for a whole year and still have plenty of change" for each one of those billings.

Simply put, yes the client is paying for a particular agreed output that is in an agreed contract etc but they expect you to outwork their people. Thats just the way it is. Otherwise, why bother paying ~£1k + a day?

I think it is reasonable that here and there, when you have worked long days and got a particular hard milestones done to very tight timelines yes off course give the guys a break, but in general thats what you are being paid for, to work hard and fast on complex issues and come up with the solutions and quickly and effectively as you can.

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#5 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
07/07/2015 22:49

Frio to Anon MCs (#4)

Most of the time I do 10 hour days, and I believe that 50 hour weeks are the norm.

During my 50 hour week, I have to deliver my day job which is usually 1 or 2 engagements, network, make contact with my counselees and contribute to business development and department objectives.

If was to cut out all the stuff other than delivery, I would be down to a much more sensible 40 hours. However, come performance review time - I would be marked as "meeting our high expectations" and miss out on things like promotion. So, I rarely refuse the "do you want to catch-up over coffee" invitations from colleagues etc etc.

I sometimes slip into much more than the 50 hours, especially if I'm travelling. It's a difficult balance though, after working 70 hour weeks for 5 weeks on the bounce, I didn't notice that I got to a Friday evening, got to bed early then did a mixture of working over the weekend/sleeping. I only noticed when my rather lovely wife pointed out that she had seen me 5 days in 35 days and when she did see me I was too tired to do anything interesting. My coping strategy? Working exactly the same hours for the next 4 weeks but front loading the weeks - so when I got to Thursday evening at home I didn't need to work and pretending not to be absolutely exhausted.

It's only when I've written this post that I realise how ridiculous my approach sounds. Do you know the worst thing? I got interviewed by someone the other day because I'm seen as someone who achieves "work-life balance", so in this interview I said things like:

"I choose two things I have to leave work to do each week - like rugby training or going to a photography course" - this is nonsense, I go home exhausted sit my bum on the sofa and hope to god I can get to sleep.

"I leverage our offshore centres from around the world to maximise the time difference. Working with India is great - I can send them a request at 6pm and by the morning they've completed it", this is nonsense, I have a 50% chance of actually receiving it and a 10% chance of it being of acceptable quality.

Of course, I'm massively part of the problem, perpetuating the issue of ever increasing hours.

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#6 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
07/07/2015 23:22

tommys to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#1)

OK, this one is for all you young 'uns out there.

We know how difficult it can be to leave the office at a sensible hour, when you're working in an open-plan office full of masochists who want to get promoted. Even worse when you're the only guy on the team working in the home office and the others couldn't care less whether they spend all night in the office or all night back in their hotel talking shop with the rest of the team.

So, lets share our collective wisdom by answering the following:

What's the best tactic you have for getting out of the office at 5pm prompt, every evening - and without it putting you in the firing line during the next "up our out" session?

Cheers, people of the 'net.

5PM?? no way this is possible.... i have only managed to escape at 5pm when the whole team is gone for a dinner and i couldnt be bothered so i went home instead... 6.30 yes...

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#7 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
08/07/2015 10:38

Anon MCs to tommys (#6)

Frio,

You are working a LOT of hours. Hopefully you are near Partner level or on your way there, alongside a good salary.

If neither of the above is true, I would have a hard think of your job options and what you really want out of life. Working that hard and barely seeing your wife-kids is going to get at you in the coming years...

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#8 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
08/07/2015 10:54

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Anon MCs (#7)

Hmm. £1K/day is not a high day rate. Some of us were charging that more than 20 years ago. But, the main point here I think is that what the client pays the employer is to some extent not the employee's concern. The employee's contract is with his/her employer, and if that employer expects 60 hours a week in return for £45K then I just wonder what kind of mug of an employee is prepared to accept such a deal. If you're earning £100K+ then things are arguably different - but even so, 60 hours a week is a route to burn-out in the long term.

Also, I *never* tolerate clients who expect my team to work longer hours than their staff just because they're paying a high day rate. They pay us a high day rate because our staff are better qualified than theirs and because we have the intellectual capital and flexibility to deliver the work effectively. I'd rather tell them to go f*ck themselves and walk out of a £200K engagement than see some 24 year old kid with an Oxbridge degree sitting in the office at 9pm every night trying to look busy and occupy himself even though he's already done all of his work. I've been there myself in the past, and it is SH1T. I vowed to myself when I was 28 never to treat my own staff like that.

Remember, kids - never work for an a55hole. Even if that a55hole is the client. Let them work you to the bone during work hours, but after that you should be free. It's easy to get wrapped up in this "london life" thing and start using phrases like "the firm" in everyday life, hanging on to 60 hour weeks because you're worried about your "career"... but let me tell you one thing - it does you no favours in the long term. Work hard... but unless you're earning £300-400K+, your life really shouldn't be dominated by work (unless that's how you get your kicks, I guess)...

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#9 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
08/07/2015 23:49

MikeTC to Anon MCs (#7)

Frio said he's working 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. That's 8am-6pm, hardly unusual or unreasonable?

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#10 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
09/07/2015 00:00

DCF to MikeTC (#9)

You have to deduct 5x1 hr for lunch. Not that you take an hour, but such is the convention in calculating working hours.

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#11 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
09/07/2015 07:43

MAK. to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#1)

I leave office by 5 PM everyday. But I reach office by 7 AM.

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#12 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
09/07/2015 10:20

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to MikeTC (#9)

Mike, did you also see the bit where he wrote:

"after working 70 hour weeks for 5 weeks on the bounce, I didn't notice that I got to a Friday evening, got to bed early then did a mixture of working over the weekend/sleeping. I only noticed when my rather lovely wife pointed out that she had seen me 5 days in 35 days and when she did see me I was too tired to do anything interesting."

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#13 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
09/07/2015 14:08

Jack Black to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#12)

I was given a piece of advice recently, which went something along the lines of... "the best thing you can do when you're busy is so no to more work". Seems obvious, right? Time and time again you see people pulling 18 days without a specific end target in site. They do it because they think it will help them get on. Maybe they are right, maybe not, but drawing the line should be top of every consultants priority list.

If you don't spend time with your family, enjoy your own home and the fruits of your labour, then what is the point? You may as well get a job as a tube driver (50k they earn, scandless) or similar and enjoy a proper work-life balance for what is still a decent wage.

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#14 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
09/07/2015 16:21

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Jack Black (#13)

Now that's what I call rockin' advice.

+1 from me.

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#15 RE: Escaping from the office at a reasonable hour
10/07/2015 01:32

london_consultant to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#1)

OK, this one is for all you young 'uns out there.

What's the best tactic you have for getting out of the office at 5pm prompt, every evening - and without it putting you in the firing line during the next "up our out" session?

Cheers, people of the 'net.

There really are three types of people I've come across so far:

1. The ones who put in the hours, mostly junior grades, who are rewarded for sheer presenteeism through promotions.

2. Those who rebel, very ostentatiously push back on the demands of outwardly appearing to be busy, who will be punished come year end review.

3. Those who managed to keep everyone thinking they are no less busy than everyone else, whilst managing to maintain a life. How they did that?

- Local, long term engagements and as a result less "overhead" and travel probably

- Owning their part of the practice development contribution they had to make, meaning they dictated the pace at which it had to be finished in line with the time required for client-delivery

- Being known as the guy who does Sport X, which requires them to head off at a certain time

- Carefully managing the appearance of how much work they had

- Establishing clear boundaries and the ability to say no at key moments

- Trivial, but not sitting in direct sight of those who may expect presenteeism

- Getting over the threshold where their only USP was "being more keen than the client's resources" very quickly

A combination of the above worked well so far

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