Late For Work: Reasons Or Excuses?

By Raymond Wong


Lest we forget, there was a time before the pandemic, before WFH became an everyday acronym, employers expected employees to be at their workplace right on time. It was not long ago that physical distancing was valid only when you were sneezing, and physical presence doesn’t mean zooming here and there. As time goes, work life will get back to being good old ‘normal,’ slowly but surely. For many though, after experiencing a comfortable prolonged period of working remotely, and sometimes in ruffled pyjamas, getting back to the office may require a major rebooting. In short, habits become stubbornly instinctive and hard to shake off.

No escaping confession time  

Whether you are a seasoned employee, an intern, or a newbie at work, you would probably need to be prepared post WFH. Arm yourself with an SOP of good reasons, or well-thought-out excuses, just in case you can’t beat the clock at your workplace. Well, just forget about the ‘terrible traffic jam’, ‘alarm clock battery died’ or ‘alien abduction’ recycled storylines. Those are passe and will only raise your superior’s thick eyebrows and muster a muffled chorus of colleague’s giggles.  

How about ‘caught in a zebra crossing’? Well, FYI that incident actually did happen back in 2019, in north of Berlin in Germany when a pair of circus zebras decided to go for a morning stroll on the high speed A21 autobahn. They held up the morning office rush and did incite many employers’ suspicion. Nevertheless, unless you are staying near a zoo or a circus in town, don’t clone this storyline. 


“Believe it or not, it happened!”       

They always say bad things happen to good people. Hence, whether with reasons or excuses, ridiculous or real, being late once in a very blue moon isn’t criminal nor evoke ‘exit stage left.’  

Here are some professional, and practical, tips to help you solve your predicament. Your reason, or excuse, should be sweet and simple. Not over dramatic, but unique and with minimal need of collaboration. Today’s superiors are not so naïve. They can check the weather, pull out train schedules, monitor your social group chats instantly and everything in between. 

So, whatever you want to put forth it has got to be a bit ‘personal’ to captivate, or bewitch, your superior for a split moment. For example, was up all night following a job-related webinar in another time zone. Ok, cool. You spilled your coffee on the LRT and had to turn back to change your clothes. Sad, but easily acceptable. Or, your hair dryer fused, when you didn’t like the new weekend perm and was desperately trying to rejig it yourself. Could work, but expect some IG shots and frozen stares when you ‘catwalk’ in. To elicit another level of personal sympathy from your superior, just do the sulky ‘my bubble bath didn’t bubble up enough’ drama. Really? Rumour has it that this was an actual reason supposedly recorded in Korea.  

Productivity matters more

After all that has been said, modern day management styles have evolved from clock-in, clock-out production-like SOPs to one that puts time management into the hands of employees. This has been evidently so in today’s WFH, digital-driven, gig economy. LinkedIn, for example, has adopted complete remote work for its entire workforce. The beautiful conference rooms or welcoming reception lounges of yesteryears are virtually without functions. Work-life balance is becoming more enhanced. And so will productivity. 

So, cheer up, one day – sooner than later- you won’t need to churn out a compelling reason or creative excuse, fact or fiction, real or fake, as your alibi for being late for work.  

With this being said, this article is no justification for you to find creative ways – great reasons or silly excuses for being late to work. Just saying….