How Early Should You Show Up for Work? There's a Balance to Strike...

Few people welcome the sound of the alarm clock on a dark weekday morning. But whether you're an energetic early riser or a confirmed night owl, there's no escaping the need to be at work on time, despite the temptations of the snooze button.

However, simply being on time isn't the end of the story - there are many benefits to showing up for work a little earlier than you strictly need to. This is especially important if you're working in a smaller business, such as an independent store, where you're a key part of the operation rather than just another worker in a large chain. In smaller businesses like these, every employee has an investment in the company's success, and getting into work early is an important way of working toward this. But how exactly does it help?

Putting Customers at Ease

No matter which side of the bed you get out of, if your job involves dealing with the public then you need to be helpful, friendly, and polite at all times to put customers at ease. Arriving for work early gives you a chance to banish the stresses and distractions of the commute, getting you into the right frame of mind from the moment the store opens its doors.

Getting Things Done

Arriving early also gives you a chance to tackle routine tasks, such as dealing with overnight emails, before the first customers command your whole attention. Even a few minutes at the start of the day can help you plan your schedule and get you off on the right foot.

Team Dynamics

In a small business, staff relies on each other to make the working environment productive and enjoyable. Getting in a little early each day shows you're prepared to carry your fair share of the load.

This improves the working atmosphere, benefiting both you and your colleagues. Just as importantly, this happier mood is transmitted to customers. Relaxed customers take more time as they shop, and are likely to spend more as a result.

Career Prospects

Lastly, consistently showing up a little early will definitely be noticed and appreciated by your employer. This can only help your future career prospects, but it also means your manager will be more sympathetic if you need emergency time off or some other flexibility during the working day.

Clearly, even if working a few extra minutes a day isn't reflected in your earnings, your efforts will pay off in many other ways. The question is, how early is early enough?

Just In Time

As a bare minimum, you should arrive early enough to begin working immediately at your official start time. Your first paid minutes shouldn't be spent getting a coffee or chatting to colleagues. Even if you're on a strict hourly wage, giving yourself enough pre-work time to hit the ground running is only fair to both your employer and your co-workers.

Up to Half an Hour

Allowing yourself 15-30 minutes gives you a little leeway on your morning commute, relieving the stress of delays or rushing for connections. And if your commute goes smoothly, you'll have plenty of time to catch up on necessities such as counting the cash register contents before customers arrive.

More Than Half an Hour

However, earlier isn't always better. In smaller companies, showing up more than half an hour or so early each day can be counterproductive. Firstly, you can antagonize your colleagues, who may feel compelled to match your early starts. While arriving a few minutes early is great for building a productive team spirit, making others feel pressured into working significantly longer hours will have the opposite effect.

Secondly, if you're consistently more than 15-30 minutes early, you risk being taken for granted by your manager or employer. You could easily find your boss assigning you extra tasks to carry out as if they were part of your regular duties, rather than treating your keen timekeeping as a bonus to appreciate.

Making Your Choice

There's no doubt that getting in early will provide powerful benefits for the business - and therefore for you and your colleagues. It'll build a happier atmosphere, making your working day more enjoyable while at the same time encouraging more sales from relaxed, happy customers.

It will also do your career prospects no harm, and will make your employer more willing to be flexible in your working conditions.

However, it's a benefit that can easily be overdone, so strike the right balance for your particular workplace - and maybe settle on setting your alarm for twenty minutes earlier, to give yourself some breathing space at the start of the working day.