Coworkers. We’ve got them and we are one ourselves. We spend so much of our day with our coworkers, and we’d all agree it’s much more pleasant to have good ones than bad ones. There are lots of ways to be a bad coworker. Here’s one thing you can do to make you one of the good ones.
Be on time.
Sounds simple? Well it is, in a way, and it isn’t in another. It is one, single practice to adopt, but a challenging one to execute consistently. It’s worth the effort though because the results can be powerful.
In our own daily lives, we are annoyed when we are kept waiting by the doctor or the mechanic. It’s equally aggravating to these professionals when people don’t show up on time, throwing their schedule out of whack. And let’s not get started with late arrivals for dinner reservations, theater, or bus trips. We generally recognize that it is disrespectful to be late and we try not to be, but how hard? While we all know that things happen that are unavoidable, too often being late is because we just don’t leave enough time to really get where we are going. We’re busy, we try to do one more thing before we leave, and we are often overly optimistic about how long it will take to get there.
In a work context, when you’re late you’re not being a good coworker – plain and simple. Some of us have flexible schedules or work remotely, and the idea of a “time” that you have to be there by in the morning may seem quaint. But if you work at a company where this isn’t the case, then you need to be on time. Period. If the 7:45 train gets you there on time only some of the time, then the 7:45 train can’t be an option anymore; it’s the 7:15 for you. If leaving the house at 7:30 means you are always on the edge of being late, leave at 7:15, no excuses.
You may think that as long as your boss doesn’t know or doesn’t care, then it doesn’t matter, or that as long as your work is done, it doesn’t matter, but it does matter because being late is disrespectful to your co-workers. Others make the effort to show up on time, you need to too.
Being on time for meetings – online or in person – is even more important. When you take that phone call at 9:55 instead of heading to the conference room, you are going to be late. When you dial in at 1:10 or 1:15 instead of 5 minutes before 1:00, or at least 1:00, the message you’re sending to your co-workers is “I don’t care, about your time or our work together.” If you’re running the meeting, start on time. Your timely, respectful colleagues will appreciate it.
It’s not just meetings either. Be on time in other ways. Return phone calls and emails promptly. Many companies promise clients that their communications will be answered within 24 hours, etc., but what about internally? If your company doesn’t have a particular policy, make one of your own. You said you’d send the report after the meeting? Do it. Be prompt. Be a good coworker. Be on time.
Being on time has benefits beyond just showing respect and courtesy. When you show up on time in the morning, your day starts off on the right note – you won’t be behind 15 minutes all day, scrambling to catch up. You’ll be less stressed and more productive at the meeting if you’re on time, and you won’t miss any of what is covered or need to be brought up to speed. Isn’t it annoying when you have to repeat things for latecomers?
If you’re the boss, being on time is a simple way to show your team that you value them. When you’re late, you send the opposite message. It’s probably always been obvious that it’s a way to distinguish yourself as an employee, but now there is another good reason to be on time; it makes you a better coworker!
A real commitment to being on time will reduce lateness. Better planning will help. Notice the things that make you late and avoid them. Don’t answer that last email and then dial in to the conference call; don’t answer the phone as it rings on your way out of your office to the meeting. Being on time for the things you do as a team, the work that requires everyone to participate is a simple way that you can demonstrate your commitment to your colleagues.
Being on time is a basic human courtesy we should extend to one another at all times, but it’s Behavior 101 if you want to be a great coworker!