SURVEY SAYS: When the Boss Is Away

Depending on what type of boss you have, you may be more or less productive when he or she is out of the office. Or perhaps it doesn’t matter.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, how does your boss being away affect your work? If you are a boss to some employees, how do you perceive their work productivity when you are out?

Thirty-five percent of responding readers are “the boss” for a group of employees in their company, while 65% are not.

Forty-two percent of respondents said when their boss is out of the office, their productivity is not affected. More than one-third (33.8%) indicated they get more work done, 21.6% said it could go either way and 2.7% reported they get less work done.

Among the bosses responding, half reported that employee productivity is not affected when they are out, and nearly three in ten (28.6%) said it could go either way. Nearly 18% think their employees get less work done when they are out, and 3.6% said more work gets done.

Most respondents who chose to leave comments explained that they have more meetings and requests when the boss is in, so they get more done when the boss is away, and quite a few said they work just as hard either way. One respondent offered this logic for the survey results: “Falls into two camps – those who believe they have a ‘job’ and those who have a ‘career’. People with a ‘job’ take advantage; people with a ‘career ‘are not impacted.” Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “I wish my work disappeared as often as my boss!”

Thanks to everyone who responded to our survey!


We work just as hard.

My team, myself included all work remotely and so productivity is not affected. My manager is in London while I am in Seattle, and for my team it is a similar arrangement. Unfortunately I have not had a holiday where i have not been online at least some time every day, so monitoring productivity is not difficult.

When the boss is away, I have less meetings to attend and the department seems quieter. I am able to spend more time in my office getting work done.

I get more done because I have fewer interruptions and last minute demands from my boss.

My boss likes lots of meetings so I never have time to get work done when she is here. Also, most of the meetings generate a lot of new work.

I'm much more relaxed when he's out of the building.

There are times when my boss sends many requests either in meetings or analysis that require reprioritizing my day(s). If she is gone, I may have time to work on projects on hold, but timing may be such that I have no capacity to recapture the time in her absence.

Less is more! Less interruptions, less "other duties as assigned."

The only noticeable change is that the stress level goes down, as does my blood pressure...

When my boss is away, there are typically fewer meetings and I have long stretches of the day to either power through a whole list of small items, or really focus on big project work without interruptions. I think bosses should stay away more!

Verbatim (cont.)

We only have 7 employees. When the boss is gone, the office is so much quieter (no client appointments, etc) and we can focus on one this at a time! Imagine that - one thing! 🙂

Most of the employees in my office work for a different manager than I do. When their manager is away she reminds them that she is watching them on the security cameras via the internet.

We call those days "in-house vacation days!"

I always want to surprise and encourage him with how much I accomplished while he was out.

Falls into two camps - those who believe they have a "job" and those who have a "career". People with a "job" take advantage; people with a "career" are not impacted

I get more done without the boss because I'm not interrupted all the time.

The woman to whom I report is very "hands off" in her approach. The allowance for a great deal of independence is one reason I like my job so much.

I checked "It can go either way", not because of the effect of my boss' absence relating to my job. Instead the problem is her boss because he doesn't have her taking care of his business. Suddenly everything is a crisis for us and our fault if he might look bad. We know she needs a vacation but we sure are glad to welcome her back!

My boss is not a "hoverer", so productivity does not depend on him.

Interruptions are fewer when the boss is away.

Verbatim (cont.)

The only thing that changes is that I am more likely to work from home which is hugely motivating to me as I save time/energy/money.

Most of the time, I get more work done when she's not here. However, sometimes she asks me to do a bunch of things for her or she sends me a lot of emails which keep me from doing my work.

When the boss is away, others feel free to contribute ideas and much more is accomplished. I get double the work done when my boss is away and there's no political emails to respond to.

My boss is in another state and she travels to all the other plants - almost continuously. I think she's been to my plant once in the year and a half that she's been my boss.

I prefer when my boss is not here - seems less stressful.

When the boss is gone, I can get more of what I planned done because of less interruptions by the boss. However, since I'm the go-to person when the boss is gone, some of those days have more interruptions!

It depends on how much of his work I have to cover!

My manager wastes a lot of my time asking for things that she then puts aside until she forgets about them. When she's out, I can focus on things that really need to be done.

When my boss is out we can relax and just do our job and not worry about all the Lean Six Sigma crap that just takes us away from our clients.

Feel much more relaxed when he is away and still get the work done. I go home in a much better mood.

Verbatim (cont.)

I try to work from home when my boss is out and put in face time when she is in. Sometimes she will ask me to come into her office via instant message when I'm telecommuting. We're a mobile environment and I work across geographies, but I do not share a client with my boss.

My boss isn't even located in the same building as me. In fact, she's located across the state. So her being in or not doesn't affect me in any way. I pretty much operate on my own all the time.

Often there are fewer meetings so I get more done. A day with no meetings is glorious.

Atmosphere a little less intense, but we work hard whether boss is in or not.

I'm a professional, but I like to relax too - I admit - I may write a letter to a friend or an extended coffee break

My boss is on the floor above me, but we can go days, even weeks without seeing each other. I'm type (triple) A so if my boss is out of the office it has no effect at all on my productivity. In fact, she generates less than 1% of my workload.

I wish my work disappeared as often as my boss!

The meetings "for meeting's sake" disappear, useless reporting tasks plummet and there's a return to sanity from the "I need it yesterday" priority that pervades every deadline he sets.



NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.