New job, new office, new culture
July 15, 2014 6:30 AM Subscribe
I need help figuring out what is okay to do at my new job. I just started a new job and I'm confused on what I'm supposed to be doing regarding my lunch breaks.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my entire work history, I generally leave the office for 50-60% of my lunch breaks. I work in the city and I enjoy being able to run a lot of my errands at lunch. If I don't have errands, I often like to grab lunch with friends or business contacts. A lot of the time, I don't really feel like going out, so I'll just eat at my desk. It's never been a problem.
I started a new job at a small company a month ago and it's pretty much my dream job. I'm doing what I love and I'm good at it. However, this is a (very) small company (no HR) and pretty much no one ever takes a lunch. I'm not sure that everyone even takes their vacation time. And it's small enough that when anyone goes anywhere, everyone knows you're gone. I've had a lot of stuff I've been needing to do this summer and I've been using my lunch hour to run these errands. I haven't taken lunch every day, but I have probably most of the days so far. It's even more important for me to do it at this job because I have to be there until 5 and a lot of things I could previously do after work at my last place (where I left around 4:15), isn't possible when I'm leaving later. It's also important for me to take lunch because I get hyperfocused and will work on something for hours at a time so it's good for me to have a break. Additionally (and more philosophically), I always think it's important to take lunches and vacations and things because it's a person's right to take them and if they don't, they can set the expectation that they'll work all the time and make it harder on themselves if they ever do want to take it (not to mention making it harder for those who need to take the time off).
Anyway, I suspect I may be going against company culture here and causing raised eyebrows. Is it okay to take my lunch?? I would have thought it was but I am genuinely confused. I should also mention that I've been having a lot of work done on my house this year and one day a couple of weeks ago, someone had to come and look at something and the only time they could do it was the morning of one day the following week (I think my third week), and if they didn't come then they couldn't come again until the end of August at the earliest. So I asked if I could come a few hours late one day. I KNEW this was not ideal, but they had also told me that my vacation time was effective immediately when I interviewed for the position, so I thought it might be okay as a one-off (I have no other time off planned). I've been coming in early almost every day and my first two weeks and I've also stayed late about half the time (a few times I was the last to leave).
Given that I am literally the only one who takes their lunch most days, I feel like I stand out like a sore thumb. Should I not take lunches for the time being? I don't feel the need to take them religiously forever, but if I have other errands I need to run (which I do right now), they're valuable to me. I had a quick check-in with the manager a week ago and she didn't indicate that anything was wrong (I didn't bring any of this up and I don't really expect she'd tell me if they had a problem with me taking my lunch).
Please tell me if I'm doing anything wrong here or going against the company culture in a damaging way here. Most of the people are out the door at 5 sharp, so I don't feel guilty about leaving then, though I kind of wish that there were a little more flexibility rather than a strict adherence to hours. I have no problem putting extra hours in when I feel I need to, but I also then want to not feel guilty about not taking my lunch hour. I've always had jobs that were flexible about hours as long as basic core hours were met. My hours are 8-5 and I was hoping when I took the job that after awhile I could discuss possibly leaving around 4:30 (barring anything that needs to be done, obviously), seeing as I come in earlier and am more productive earlier than I am later. I'm kind of worried this won't be the case now. I may be approaching this the wrong way - any advice would be helpful.