I’ve worked enough 9-to-5 (and later) jobs in the past to know that the world does not accommodate the 9-to-5er.  Many banks aren’t open late and have limited, if any, weekend hours.  Doctors won’t see you after work.  Packages you need to sign for at home always arrive the minute you leave home. Lots of the things you need are only available while you’re supposed to be at a desk.

It’s like he’s waiting for you to leave home before he delivers.  (Photo by var resa)

I have been fortunate enough that this has rarely been a problem for me.  My managers have been pretty good about letting me run errands as needed, and now I manage myself.   I know everyone is not nearly so lucky, and I feel your pain.  We live in a dual-income culture where many of us (myself included) don’t have relatives that can help us run these errands.  Life outside of work doesn’t stop because we “need to be at work.”

If you are stuck in this situation, talk to your manager.  Explain your life situation.  Getting someone to understand why you ask for extra time out of the office goes a long way in granting it.  You can ask to come in late, leave early or take a long lunch to minimize the time taken to run errands.  You should also insist that you will finish all of your work, even if that means coming in earlier or staying later another day (and follow through with this 100%).

If you’re the manager who won’t let an employee leave to run an errand, have a little empathy.  Work isn’t about butts in seats; it’s about getting things done.  It doesn’t matter if you work for the government either…I’ve worked for both the US and Japanese governments, and even they can be flexible.  If you put rules in place and treat everyone fairly if they need to run an errand, you won’t lose control of your office.  I guarantee it.

-Deborah Fike

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