When I moved down to Frederick, MD a few years ago, I learned pretty quick that I needed to adjust my work hours. The commute to Rockville some days and Bethesda on others was tough. The 30 mile commute was always close to an hour, and that was on good days. In order to keep my sanity, I would leave home at 6:30AM and leave work no later than 4PM every day (if I could help it).

I was working at a utility company that only had plants and offices based in the US. Operating power plants and gas transmission lines required 24/7 support, but IT was staffed during the typical 9-5 hours. At each plant, there was a smart hands person (one of these was my own mother), who would typically arrive very early in the morning. This person wore several hats at the plant and were excellent points of contacts for IT.

After coming in early for a few months, the plant contacts realized I was online early. If there were any issues overnight, they would usually call me up first thing and we would work through the issue together. There were benefits on both sides. I was learning plant systems and troubleshooting issues that other IT owners might have taken on if they waited until 9AM. For the plant contacts, they would get their issue resolved quicker, resulting in higher satisfaction and a growing trust with myself and, by extension, IT.

I was hired as a desktop support person. Within 5 years, I was the technical lead for the Platform Services team. A lot of this was due to coming in early.

No one seemed to mind that I left early in the day either. My managers were well aware of my commute and they saw the advantages from me coming in early.

Since then, I’ve had other jobs and I always try to show up early and leave early. After all, I check my email all night anyway and as remote access became ubiquitous, this became even easier and more frequent. Some managers and teams didn’t care, others did care though. Regardless of opinions though, I was still consistently a top performer who would find issues early in the morning and resolving them before everyone came in.

Moving into management, I’ve come to understand the delicate balance of this shift in start and leave times. Sometimes I would get complaints from others when they see someone leaving early. They would make comments under their breath like “banker’s hours” and the like. Before you try something like this, make sure your manager and team is on board and understand your work times. Your manager in particular needs to account for your time. Be sure they are comfortable with it and see the benefits. If they do, they (and your team), will have your back.

The IT early bird is someone that can be trusted. They’ve seen it all and have done most troubleshooting by the time the others roll in. This gives them a great general knowledge of systems that might be out of their direct line of responsibility. Keep an eye on these folks – you might just see them do some amazing things!