The default 16 hours on call workday

“Hi I am sorry to bother you, but I have this great idea for our project…”  Nothing wrong with this conversation except that it is happening at 9pm in the evening over a mobile phone call.

One characteristic of the workplace in the middle east region is that you are on call until 10 pm at night if the boss feels like chit chatting.

I can understand on call lifestyle for doctors (and that was one of the reasons I stayed away from this noble profession), but if you are a java developer and getting a call about an idea for the project from the project manager, then this is uncalled for.  You do not have to take it.  I am not saying do not answer (even though you do not have to) but I am saying if it is not a good time, say so.  So, a good scenario for the conversation from your part might be “Hi boss, Actually it is difficult for me to talk right now.  Is this urgent?”  If the answer is yes, then urgent is urgent and you might have to put up with this once in a while.  Hopefully your boss has a sound definition of what is urgent and what is not.  Other wise you might want to talk to him or her about a more reasonable definition.

Most will say “I have to take the call and let the boss ramble on even if it is not urgent.  Otherwise the boss will be angry and that will affect my career. ” I disagree.  If your boss is an empathetic person, I am sure she will understand and will be more observant of your private time in the future.  If your boss is extremely obsessive compulsive, then also stopping his habit of calling you after hours is even more important.  Otherwise his intrusion on your private time will continue and increase and still he will never appreciate your sacrifice of taking his call.  Another bad phone habit is bosses expecting you to pick up their phone calls instantly.  They say “I tried to call you but you did not answer,” in a sulking voice.  As if one is sitting idle waiting for them to call.

I have worked with bosses who pretend to be disappointed that you did not let them talk by telling them the time is not suitable.  However, the good ones end up rethinking their attitude and come to the conclusion that you were right.  The not so good ones will get over it and learn that there are limits to the workday and they do not extend until midnight.

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