Be a fit in the team #3 – Being late at work

Hey, welcome back!

Today’s topic is a bit stranger because it is one of the things that fall under “We want change but we don’t want to change”. The only pre-requisite for this topic to happen is having a schedule. Please note that this topic is not only for the employee, but for the whole team and especially the team lead.

Case presentation:

It happens very often that people arrive late at work. You find it easy to point out why you consider that you are not wrong with this behaviour.

Before digging into the good, the bad and the conclusion of this topic let’s analyse a bit the possible causes. In case you find another that has not been covered please post it down in the comments and it will be included.

1) Not enough relevant workload
2) Irrelevant core hours (too much overtime required, most of the team not available in the morning, team efficiency peak between other hours)
3) Motivation factors too low
4) Schedule too long or too different for the amount of personal social tasks
5) Environment factors (distance from home, traffic, temperature etc)

As we can see the “personal problems” reason has been excluded because those are random, necessary, can occur at any time and might not always be triggered by you.

1) Not enough relevant workload

Short description:

In the IT ecosystem many organisations function on a estimation / deliverable system of one sort or another. This concludes in some work that needs to be done for the project and some other work, let’s call it “filler”. The “filler” is relative to everyone’s job and personality but we all have it. None of us will come to work eager to do the filler but we are expected to.


Have a discussion to yourself and find the “filler” work.
Write down the “filler” work.
Ask your colleagues about their “filler” work, maybe someone has a similar problem and might be on to finding a solution already.
See if there is any tool or process on the market that can remove that work from you.
Talk to your direct manager/lead, present him your problem, your solution and try to find a common ground that pleases both parties.

2) Irrelevant core hours

Short description:

The causes of this topic are multiple and it should include something like: too much overtime required, most of the team not available in the morning, team efficiency peak between other hours etc. Basically everything that makes you believe that working between other hours would improve the amount of work done.

On this topic the main actor into improving the situation is the team leader and the team member must bring it up.


Team lead:

1) Analyse the thought of significantly changing the working hours to the desired ones.
Use the numbers and be realistic about the available work force in the local community.
Drop a relevant percent due to the specific skills.
Drop another percent the exotic hours.
Post an employment announce in the relevant place and see how many would apply and how many you need based on who applies.
Based on this analysis see if changing the core hours makes sense or not.

2) Discuss with the relevant company members about switching to an a-sync work mode in such a way that the teams are no dependent. When doing so, having the “executors” in 1 side and the “dreamers” in another is not the best solution. The executors will need feedback from the dreamers about various aspects of the implementation. Just be realistic about it until a good reliable process is in place.

3) Look around at each individual and see for how long they actually work. Try to do that in a non conspicuous way. Explain the team members that the goal is to adapt the working hours and not to judge them. Be fair about the explanation and do not cross the promise. You must not judge the team members nor influence them, just observe and note in an anonymous way. The team has delivered before you running the experiment and you thought they were working 8 hours a day. If everyone works 4 hours and 4 hours stalking on Facebook negotiate with them privately and come up with a better solution for each individual. Test different solutions, ask for feedback from the team. You are the lead, you have the power to transform the 4 efficient hours into 8 efficient hours.

Team member:

When you observe that the core hours do not fit your schedule find the reason why.
Consult yourself with your colleagues that come in late and find their reasons. While doing this do not tell them your reason first. Don’t influence them.
See if you could come up with a better proposal.
Present the proposal to the direct team lead/manager.

3) Motivation factors too low

Short description:

This usually happens when it is not bad enough for the team members to leave but there are very few challenges. In this situation nobody will leave but nobody will be eager to come work either. The action point here is more towards the team lead. The action picked should mostly based on root cause.


– The technology used on the project presents little or no challenge to the team members

Have a discussion with the team and sort the workload in such way that everyone gets to work on a personal project that will enchant the big project.
Make sure that a thin set of rules that will measure the success and progress is picked.
Everyone relevant should agree with the new technologies.

Be aware of the fact that there are 3 metrics: speed, cost and quality. Understand the direction of the project and challenge your team to find technical solutions that  push into that direction. Make sure you reward this research work because it will generate revenue. Be very open to every solution presented. Even if the desired metric remains constant but the other 2 are increasing the idea is very valuable. The final product will be much better.

– One individual is not motivated due to very specific reasons

Dear team leader, please do discuss with your colleague and help him be as efficient he can be.

4) Schedule too long or too different for the amount of personal social tasks

Short description:

We all have “things” that have to be handled. Paying bills, obtaining loans, our live evolves together with us and the jobs don’t seem to leave any spare time. As the writer I totally understand you and probably everyone does, however this is still a bad reason to be late at work.


If possible book the time in advance in the general calendar so that the leader can plan for an amount of work that fits your needs and your colleagues do not have to work extra because of you. Some things can totally be planed ahead of time and they are recursive monthly.

5) Environment factors:

Short description:

We should split those factors in two by occurrence. The constant ones have among them the distance from home, traffic and temperature. The sudden factors are in the lines of thunderstorms, transport system riots, yellow or red code for hot or cold weather, snow storms etc.


Constant factors:

The team lead could reason with you a bit but only a bit. Maybe you can start the day at home until the traffic thins down a bit and then come to the office. Sadly, since you have agreed to sign the work contract you should have taken them into consideration.

Sudden factors:

Many hours will be spent commuting. If the job allows for remote work the team lead should be pro-active in finding a middle ground for each individual. At the end of the day the business cares about the deliverable end result.

The good:

Being able to start working at your own pace feels quite rewarding.

The bad:

Even if you are doing your work very well, unless this is the agreed form of work, this will constantly be a valid blame topic which doesn’t do you any good.

If a colleague is blocked by your work he will remain block for at last 30 minutes more since you arrive at work.


It is good to deal with the problem that causes you being late because having a good work ethic allows you to deliver the expected amount of predictability which in return helps the planers to organise the workload better. By being unpredictable you do cancel any chance of delivering more in the given amount of time.


Have good day further on!


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