Balancing work and family responsibilities can be difficult, especially if your colleagues are staying late and working long hours.

QI started a job in May with a company that during the interview process stressed the importance of work/life balance. I have a young child, so this is very important to me. But now I have been dispatched to another department that has a different philosophy. My colleagues and project leader are all workaholics who work late hours and weekends. I don't mind staying late on occasion, but it's getting out of hand. My project leader even scheduled a conference call on a Sunday night. There was nothing discussed that couldn't have waited until Monday morning. How do I push back on this without coming across that I'm not a team player?

AKaren Usher, president of TPO Inc., a Tysons Corner human resources outsourcing firm, said this worker first "should go back to the original hiring person and ask for some advice" and that possibly this person might intervene on her behalf.

But, Usher said, if that approach does not work, she should talk to her new temporary team leader and explain that when she came aboard it was with the idea that the company was sensitive to work and family issues.

She should say that she does not want to change that schedule with her child care provider, and say that if she has to, she might not be able to get them back when she returns to her original assignment.

"At the same time, she should say she does not want to be perceived as not being a team player," but wants to work out a reasonable work schedule, Usher said.

What the worker should not do is simply start leaving on her own timetable without discussing it with management in some way, Usher said. "If she starts leaving earlier than others, there could be a lot of eyebrow-raising."

-- Kenneth Bredemeier

E-mail your workplace questions to Kenneth Bredemeier at Discuss workplace issues with him at 11 a.m. Wednesday at