Disclaimer: I am writing this at 1am which wouldn’t be so bad if Ethan’s internal alarm was a little later than 5am.  Work, two kids and a social media course seems to be keeping me busy.  And for some reason instead of sleep I’ve decided a blog is the best option.  Possibly on a high from actually being ahead somehow on my course.

Why do I feel guilty when I leave on time?

On the way home on the 5:10pm train I noticed this post in my LinkedIn feed.  It was from a fellow Digital Mum Deborah Talbot:

How to make work and motherhood, work…   How can I leave work on time and still seem committed?

It really struck me because being back at work the past couple of weeks I have been feeling guilty leaving at 4:30pm.  It doesn’t matter that I come in early.  Do my contracted hours, there’s still something that makes me wait till 4:35-4:40pm to leave.  And explain myself to whoever will listen, “I do the pick up of the kids you see”.

Is it a gender thing?

I’m not sure if it’s a mum thing or something engrained in our minds that there is something wrong with doing your work in the contained working hours.  Although I had no issues, in fact the opposite, with a guy I worked with that came in at the same time and left bang on 5pm every day (unless there was a major issue).  He left before most (6:30pm was the norm) but to me he was efficient.  I do wonder if I’d think differently if he were a she.

I know I have been guilty for thinking differently between a mum or dad working long hours too.  Having a search around I came across this research The 24/7 Work Culture’s Toll on Families and Gender Equality.  Even though it’s focused around the long hours culture (which I am glad is not that extreme for me – phew!) it highlights the inequality:

When a man left at 5 p.m., people at the office assumed he was meeting a client, Ms. Reid said. When a woman left, they assumed she was going home to her children.

Nope looks like it’s not great for anybody 

It’s not all rosy for the men because they are the ones expected to be committed to work. Although some have managed to get around this How Some Men Fake an 80-Hour Workweek, and Why It Matters.

So is what’s wrong actually our cultural beliefs around working hours?

Now if we focus on the hours some suggest you’ll actually get better output by doing shorter hours (who can’t be a fan of that) Why successful people leave work early.

So many professionals believe the more hours they put in and the later they stay at work, the more successful they’ll be. But a study published in thePsychological Review conducted by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson proves that when it comes to your time spent in the office, quality trumps quantity.

Yep, so back to the original article.  Let’s ditch what we think and be culture-shaper

I am taking the advice from How can I leave work on time and still seem committed?

Think ‘I’m a role model, a culture-shaper’

So based on my research (used loosely), I am going to embrace the title of ‘culture-shaper’ and leave at 4:30pm on the dot.  That efficient person is leaving on time.  Go on leave on time today I dare you and be happy for whoever else achieves it.

P.S. I am pretty sure that no one in my office gives a hoot about me leaving at 4:30pm and probably wonder why I hang about those 5-10 extra minutes for.  Actually they probably don’t wonder at all.