Everyone once in a while is late to work, it’s understandable, you can get stuck in traffic, rains, lift, car broke down, etc. etc. Lots and lots of possibilities are there because the entire world seems to be conspiring against you from reaching to your holy workplace on time where for the next 10 hours you would be bullied and shouted by your boss.
I for one have never been late for work or any appointment. I have what you call time mania, I just cannot be late, it freaks me out. But I have had few colleagues who are always late, one of them being my husband. It doesn’t matter what time he gets up, he can get up at 6 and still be late for office at 9. We always have an argument if we have to be somewhere together, me being so timely and he always making us late, but he just doesn’t change. He in fact tell me I’m a control freak and it’s ok to be late (no one is dying really if you are not on time).
In my office also, I have at times heard the funniest stories made up by employees for being late. One claimed a leopard was running down the highway and held up traffic (this one actually turned out to be true). Some more excuses, “I got locked inside toilet”, “Fell asleep on subway” – (seriously you just got up and came to work, how can you still be sleepy), “it was raining whole night and alarm that was lying near the window got wet and didn’t ring in morning”.
Do you really need to go to office on time?
I don’t blame these people for being late to work, but do you really need to be there on time? If I’m feeling tired, I have to rush through breakfast and don’t eat properly, if I have to drive like mad, then is it worth it.
Even if I manage to reach on time, I will take another hour to just calm down and sort everything. Maybe go to the loo as there was no time at home, eat breakfast, have coffee, gossip with colleague how his morning struggle was and then sit for work.
Now if I was just 1 hour late, I could have done all this at home and come to office fresh, ready to start work.
But hang on now, I’m not advocating that you deliberately go late, because someone who cannot reach on time, 1 hour will not make a difference, he/she will surely exhaust that 1 hour doing nothing and still reach late.
Are late-comers lazy or they just hate being early?
For a good percentage of human population, three little words habitually accompany them when they enter
“Sorry, I’m late.”
There are many reasons why people cannot be on time which I wrote above, but there is one common factor driving all the late comers, they just hate being early. They will not simply leave home/work to be on time worrying what if they reach early and they have to wait for others.
People are late because they don’t want to be early.
For the punctually challenged, this is the motivation to make us hate being late. I fall into this category; I’m paranoid of being late. Due to my paranoia, I actually end up reaching to appointments embarrassingly early and I have to apologize for being early.
What’s the solution?
I don’t think being early or late is acceptable, but yes being on time is important. I feel the solution to this would be to make being early valuable. For e.g. if you are going to meet a board of directors (say 4 people) whose hourly rate is $500 and you are late by 30 minutes, then you have made a loss of $1000 for them right then and there. However, if you were to go there early and one of them happens to be free, you can have an informal conversation with him and gauge the mood of the board beforehand.
If we are able to reframe early time as being valuable time, then you will try and be before time and use that buffer constructively for your benefit.
And lastly, don’t forget the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.