1. Tell the Truth
"I came down with something really terrible and I was sick as a dog all morning, but I miraculously feel so much better."
2. Admit it in Advance
"Hey, sorry I am so late coming in today."
3. Drop the Excuses
"My dog ate my spreadsheets and then I hit every red light ever and couldn't find parking."
4. Give Helpful Details
"I'm late because it was a crazy morning. No, I don't have anyone to cover me this morning."
5. Accept Responsibility
"I apologize for being late, but..."
6. Stop Disturbing Others Upon Your Arrival
"Good morning. How was your weekend? You'll never believe my morning..."
7. Don't Kiss Up
"I'm sorry I'm late. I brought you a coffee."
8. Do Something About It
"I'm late because my alarm clock must be broken. I'm sorry for the late notice."
"I'm late but it's not my fault..."
"I have a few clients and employees that have done this to me," says Melvin Marsh, certified hypnotherapist with After Hours Hypnotherapy. "I'm happy with a quick apology and the truth. If your toddler had a potty accident which threw your day off because you had to change clothing before you dropped him/her off to preschool, that's fine. If something happened with your alarm, that's also fine. I don't even care if you are late because you had a hangover. It's only if you are chronically late that it becomes an issue."
10. Help to Plan Accordingly
"Sorry, I'm not sure what to tell you."
11. Be Honest, Even if You're Just Hungover
"I'm just really sick with a headache, and I can't stop vomiting. It might be contagious."
12. Send Over Important Documents
"I'm going to be late but I left all my stuff at the office, or I'd get it over to you."
13. Share What You Learned
"I'm late because the dog got out of his leash."
14. Make up for Lost Time
"I'm running super late, so I might just take the day off if that's cool."
15. Give Your Boss FOMO
"I definitely didn't go out last night."
16. Stop Wasting More Time
"Let me tell you the story of what happened to me this morning..."
17. Give an Accurate ETA
"I'm going to be there in a few minutes, I promise."
18. Communicate for Coverage
"Sorry, I forgot to get someone to cover."
19. Prove That it Won't Be an Ongoing Issue
"It's just that my kids have to get to school and their schedules conflict with my hours..."
20. Don't Lie Because You Feel Ashamed
"I'm late because of *some crazy lie.*"
"Sorry I am so late, what time is it anyway?"
22. Take Initiative
"It all depends on context — if, for instance, the weather made the roads extremely dangerous, then we're just happy you made it in safely and in one piece," explains Brian Gow, president of Scheel Window & Door. "But if they're late from being disorganized or oversleeping, then there's little one can say. We don't want to hear excuses or apologies. Instead, we want to see you make up for it. Work through lunch or stay late, and take the initiative to do it yourself; don't wait for me to tell you to do it. That shows that it was just a fluke and won't be a regular thing."
22. Quit Justifying and Just Get to Work
"I'm so sorry, let me explain..."
23. Tell a Good Story
"I'm just late."
24. Ask for Help
"It's fine, it totally won't happen again."
25. Make a Plan for the Future
"No need to worry about a next time."
26. Send a Quick Ping
"Oh wow, I didn't even realize how late I am, sorry!"
"Honesty is the best policy when an employee is running late — ping your employer with an email that says why you're running late and when you can be expected to arrive to work," says Dana Case, director of operations at MyCorporation.com.
27. Try Harder
"Sorry, things hit the fan."
"In the last 30 years of being a manager, I have heard [all the excuses] and even used some myself — like, 'Oh, sorry, my car won’t start. (Why? Because I’m not in it.),'" says Kirk Herzog, office manager of Expert Plumbing & Rooter, Inc. "The best thing I wish is to get a truthful, 'I’m sorry and I will try to be better.' That would mean the world to me."
28. Don't Waste Your Energy by Getting Worked up over It
"I'm soooo sorry. Everything that could ever go bad went bad this morning. I'm so stressed out."
"Running late puts massive stress on your shoulders," says Olga Mykhoparkina, CMO at Chanty. "Luckily, our team’s schedule at work is quite flexible. If you are 20 minutes late, there’s no reason to get upset and waste your energy trying to come up with an excuse. All you do is stay 20 minutes after work. It’s that simple. After all, we are not into air traffic control. It’s much more productive to channel the energy into work rather than making up stories."
29. Don't Exploit Your Employer's Trust
"I didn't mean to be late again."
"All I ask of my employees when they are late is that they be honest," adds Steve Pritchard, founder of Cuuver. "You’ve got to have a certain amount of trust in your employees in these situations. Of course, if it’s something preventable such as sleeping in, then action may need to be taken, particularly if it happens on an important day or if they begin exploiting your trust and it starts happening on a regular basis. However, sometimes your employees are going to get stuck in traffic or have a delay at home and, as long as they’re honest about that, then they should be given a certain amount of flexibility. It also helps if they try and inform me that they are likely to be late in advance, so then I can make allowances for them being late and adjust plans for the day."
30. Recognize the Impact of Your Tardiness
"Whoops, my bad. The team should be fine though, right?"
"Late to a party, fashionable; late to work, and welcome to your manager’s doghouse," warns Patrick Colvin, strategic HR business partner at USA Today Network. "While it may not be intentional, tardiness can have a domino effect leading to communication breakdowns, missed deadlines or lost clients. As a manager, I would like to see my employees recognize and understand the impact of their lateness. Inquiring about things possibly missed and apologizing verbally or in an email goes a long way. It never hurts to just say sorry. Being late is something that happens to all of us at one point or another so simply owning up to it is a professional move.
"Finally, a manager always hopes that employees would just be honest and make it clear that it isn’t going to become a habit. Honesty and integrity is what every manager wants in an employee. When you lie, you end up breaking that trust and there no putting the toothpaste back in the tube after that."
30. Apologize to Your Coworkers
"You guys are good, right?"
Instead of assuming that your coworkers have it all under control, apologize for your tardiness. Let them know that you recognize how you being late may have affected them. It's respectful and the least you can do.
31. Set an Earlier Alarm
"I didn't have enough time in the morning."
If you're running late because you didn't wake up in time, take action. Set an earlier alarm. Give yourself more time in the mornings so it doesn't happen again.
32. Prepare Your Lunch the Night Before
"My morning was hectic and I was busy preparing lunches."
If you need more time to prep your lunch or your kids' lunches, do it the night before. There's no excuse for something that you could have done well in advance.
33. Have an Easier Breakfast
"My breakfast took forever."
If you're running late, don't make a big breakfast. Grab a to-go meal or pop something in the microwave that won't take as long to cook and eat. Or just give yourself more time in the morning so that you can eat a big breakfast.
34. Check Your Gas Tank Before You Have to Hit the Road
"I ran out of gas."
Always check your gas tank the night before, perhaps when you're coming home from work. This way you won't wake up to be surprised with an empty tank when you have no time to fill it up.
35. Check the Weather in the Morning
"I didn't realize it was going to storm and had to go back for my umbrella and coat."
Check the weather the night before. Check it again in the morning. You might even want to keep an umbrella handy at your desk or in your car just in case.
36. Check for Traffic
"I had no idea traffic would be so bad."
Always look out for traffic if you drive to work. Listen for it on the radio. Check you GPS app. Look for the best route possible so that you can do your best to avoid traffic.
37. Get to Bed Earlier
"I was up all night."
If you're going to be late every night and it's making you too tired to get up on time in the morning, get to bed earlier. You have to change up your sleep cycle.
38. Live a Healthier Lifestyle
"I'm so sick, so I'm running a little slow this morning."
Are you getting sick all the time because you're going to bed late, eating unhealthy foods, not getting your exercise or something else you might be doing to yourself? As an adult, take control of your health and live a healthier lifestyle. Of course, it's inevitable that you'll still get sick, or be affected by allergies, but you can still do your best.
39. Don't Wait to Tell Your Boss You're Late Until After You're Late
"So sorry I'm here so late today."
Don't walk into the office to tell your boss you're late only after you're late. Always tell them in advance if you can.
40. Don't Wait to Tell Your Team You're Late Until After You're Late
"So sorry I'm running behind today. I got to the office really late."
Likewise, don't wait until you get to your team meeting to tell your team why you're totally unprepared for it. Do what you can to let them know in advance.
41. Don't Expect Your Boss to Inform Your Team for You
"You'll tell the team for me?"
Don't expect your boss to relay to your team that you're not going to make the morning meeting. It's your obligation to tell everyone who is counting on you.
42. Don't Expect Your Team to Inform Your Boss for You
"You'll tell the boss for me?"
Likewise, don't expect your team to tell your boss that you're running late for you. It's your obligation as a professional to own up to it yourself.
43. Don't Ask Someone to Lie for You
"Can you just tell them that I was there but ran out for coffee quick or I'm in the bathroom? I'll be there in a few minutes!"
Never drag another coworker into your mess. If you're running late, don't lie. And especially don't ask someone else to lie for you.
44. Don't Give up Altogether
"I guess it's not worth it to come in at this point."
If you're running behind, do your best with the time you have once you make it into the office. Try to make up for the lost time. Whatever you do, don't give up on the day entirely. Show that you're putting in the effort.
45. Don't Come Running in all Frazzled
"I'm a mess. You'll never believe this story..."
When you get to the office, get straight to work. Don't make a fuss. Don't bug other coworkers who are working about what happened to you. Don't start complaining. Use your time wisely, take a breath and get to work.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.