Do you tell your Associate / VP when you're getting dinner? And are you allowed to take breaks late at night?

I work at a consulting firm where it's the culture of the group to work synchronously, even late at night. Our Consultant / Manager (equivalent to Associate / VP) will continually give us tasks, whether that be 11pm or 12am until they give us permission to log off through a message like "I think we can call it a night. Feel free to log off" 


Because we have no independence, it's the expectation to write in the Microsoft Teams chat whenever we step away (e.g., "grabbing dinner. BRB in 30 minutes", "i need to run some errands at 10pm. will be back online at 10:15pm")


Recently, it's been brought to my attention that this culture may not be normal and might be toxic. In IB, do you have more independence over your evenings? 

 

That is completely normal. You can't just disappear for 30 mins during any workday.

 

The only difference in banking is that you don't step out for 30 mins. You order food to the office and eat at your desk

 
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This is not normal, this is a failed manager. The only exception to this is if the whole team is new and all need handholding / consistent discussion.

In a well managed team, managers (director) set deadlines and expectations, mid level (VP) helps delegate work and operates as a thought provoker (shelling things out, reviewing, brainstorming) and lower level manager (associate) helps in the weeds / training on the job and puts hands on the work.

If I had a new VP or even Director who required I tell them when I step away for 10mn, I'd be fine with it if there's no trust yet and there's a fire drill. No fire drill / we've been working together for a while, then we're all adults here. I'm not raising my hand to use the restroom like it's grade school.

Do you ask permission to fuck your wife / GF at night too?

 

Yeah... I'm realizing it may not be normal. It's ingrained into me at this point sending and receiving messages like "rebooting laptop", "transitioning home from the office. BRB in 20," or "stepping away 15 minutes to pick up a package. BRB at 11:30pm."

We're also not allowed to log off until our direct supervisor gives us permission, but that's another story

I sort of assumed it must be the same everywhere—and even more hardcore in investment banking—but maybe not in this instance... 

Thanks for the response. Any suggestions on how to cope, given it's the culture here? (i.e., setting boundaries, requesting more freedom late at night)? Looking to leave this firm ASAP and just looking to do passable work for the next ~6 months

 

Am in a sweatier group and and would say it is normal for us during periods of intensity. If just working through less urgent pitch work there is good autonomy but in a live deal/firedrill situation where emails are flying every few minutes and your team rings with questions frequently it is just common sense to give your working group a heads up that you'll be offline to grab food or run an errand. Not asking permission but just saying "don't call me or expect a response for 30 minutes".

 

It's each and every day that we do this, not just firedrill situation. I came into consulting thinking that although the pay is worse than IB, the hours and culture are significantly better.

At least at my firm, that's not been the case. We routinely work until 1am, and unlike what I hear in IB, we have close to 0 downtime. It's not like we work from 9am - 3pm, wait for MD comments, work 6pm - 1am. No, it's continuous work, with the group's culture that we need to ping the Teams chat if we are ever away for more than ~20 minutes. Something like "grabbing dinner. i'll be back in X"

It's really wearing on me. 

 

grilledcucumbers:

It's each and every day that we do this, not just firedrill situation. I came into consulting thinking that although the pay is worse than IB, the hours and culture are significantly better.



At least at my firm, that's not been the case. We routinely work until 1am, and unlike what I hear in IB, we have close to 0 downtime. It's not like we work from 9am - 3pm, wait for MD comments, work 6pm - 1am. No, it's continuous work, with the group's culture that we need to ping the Teams chat if we are ever away for more than ~20 minutes. Something like "grabbing dinner. i'll be back in X"



It's really wearing on me. 


The downtime in IB myth I have never experienced. Might be my group but there is never "waiting on MD comments". Once you send a deck you turn to another project or another workstream on the same project. Cant speak to your comp but consistent 9-1 isn't great. We will do that 70% of the time but if it isn't busy we can do 9-6 10% of the time with the rest being far beyond 1am.

 

Is this the firm's general culture, your specific group, or your manager? Talk to your your peers to get a feel for that. If it's your group/your manager, try to get restaffed. I have no insight into how the staffing process works at LEK, but in general it's a perk in consulting that you may be able to avoid bad managers.

If it's the firm's general culture, leave. This is not normal at all from my perspective for consulting. Yes, junior consultants execute tasks, but the goal is to give them ownership and hence autonomy over their own work as fast as possible so that they can lead their own workstream.

 

Sounds messed up to me. We don't work past 6-7pm often on my team and if we do, everyone steps away to eat, put kids to bed if WFH, etc. Only time I message is if it's a WFH day and I'm taking a break for something "discretionary" - like going on a bike ride, walk, etc. for an hour.

 

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