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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ask the Boss

Q: Do you positively or negatively regard people working overtime?

Richard van Wageningen, CEO, British Telecom Russia & CIS:

British Telecom values a healthy work-life balance and our Russian operation is not an exception. If people work overtime on a regular basis, then either they work inefficiently or the company has a shortage of staff. In either case that is the employer's problem and if it concerns BT, it is me who is primarily worried.

"I do not want people to prove they work hard by being in the office; home-working is one of the tools we give people. Can employees abuse that? Of course they can, but we appreciate and trust our employees and that does give positive results.

"To give an example of our commitment to make the work of our employees efficient, I like to mention BT's Workstyle Project, which enables more than 70,000 of our employees to work flexibly, greatly optimizing the efficiency of both human and energy resources. By 2005, this had significantly reduced the company's carbon footprint -- saving 12 million liters of fuel and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 54,000 tons. We strive for efficiency not formalities, at the same time saving the environment for generations to come."

Yury Schwalbe, vice president for marketing, Heineken Russia:

I strongly believe in maintaining a proper balance between work and personal life. Successful people work hard to live well, rather than live to work hard. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to spend a few extra hours at work to complete an urgent task. As long as this does not become a habit, an occasional overtime at work should not present a problem. If, on the other hand, overtime becomes an ongoing necessity, it could lead to employee burnout and significant loss in productivity during normal working hours. Since there will always be a 'good' reason to stay late at work, one should also have an even better reason to complete his or her work assignments on time during regular hours in order to fully enjoy life outside of work. Living in Moscow, one of the most dynamic cities in the world, it is not the overtime that troubles me. It is the lost time in endless traffic jams that leads to physical and emotional burnout. Overtime can be managed, which is not necessarily true of "probky."

Luc Jones, partner, Antal International Russia/CIS:

In the corporate world, overtime is almost always voluntary and unpaid, as far as the fixed salary is concerned. There is often pressure on people to work overtime either when a tight deadline is approaching or on a large project when resources are limited. Although an employee rarely receives additional payment for working additional hours/days, the firm's appreciation for the additional work is most likely to be reflected in a future pay rise, promotion or bonus -- or perhaps all three. It is legally difficult to force anyone to work beyond what is stated in their contract, but it's productivity that counts -- if you've managed your time well, then the boss is unlikely to have an issue with you leaving on time, especially if you have a young family or other important activities, such as evening study.

"From a personal point of view, I see little sense in employees burning the midnight oil to simply appear busy in front of the boss. In any case this is quickly reflected in a person's lack of results and is unlikely to impact their future career in a positive way. However, on the whole I have found that those who work longer hours achieve more.

"Burn out? Get with the real world! Make money while you can -- the good times won't last forever and you can take some time off during the next bust. Or get a job in the civil service or with an NGO."