This is Misha Yurchenko’s answer to the question ‘What would be the most polite and professional way to say that you are going to be late for work?’ as seen on Quora.
I remember during my first year of work I got really hammered at a company party during the weekday. Everyone was clearly wasted, especially me. I think at some point I ordered 4 pints of beer and poured them all over one of my colleagues. She wasn’t happy. I probably offended a lot of people that night.
The next morning I rolled out of bed feeling rightfully puky. My liver was screaming at me — why, why did you this to me? I didn’t have a good answer and wallowed in disgust.
I reached over for my phone and texted my boss.
Hey I feel like shit, drank too much. Will come in to work later. -M
Within about 20 seconds I received a message back.
Get your ass to work. Now.
And just like that, a fire was lit under my ass and I hopped up with a renewed sense of energy. The rest of the day was dreadful and I took a nap during lunch. Pretty sure I got nothing done the whole day.
So, that’s exactly how you don’t do it.
After learning from that lesson, and many, many more, here are some tips both from the employee side and as a former manager.
Do it as soon as you can
Don’t wait five minutes before you’re supposed to be somewhere to tell them you are going to be late. This comes down to planning and common courtesy. If I have a scheduled meeting in two hours but am currently in a meeting that seems to be going on a bit long, or has the potential to run late, I will at minimum text or email the person saying “hey tied up in a meeting, possible that I will be running five–10 minutes late.”
Call, don’t text
By calling in to your manager it adds an extra sense of importance. You’re acknowledging that it’s important enough to warrant a call and that you take it seriously. Even though the content of what you say will be the same, I find a call more powerful. When I used to manage a team of four I always felt like they cared more if they bothered to call. Maybe it’s just me.