Here at the institute the work day goes from 6am to 8pm. Within these limits one is allowed to work, and that doesn't include weekends. This is France. So we're all trying our best to get our work done within these 14 hours. That's not always possible as science is notoriously unpredictable and experiments cannot always be planned to the point. Sometimes it is necessary to stay longer or, more rarely, come earlier. This is not forbidden, by no means, but it is strongly discouraged.
Sometime around 8pm, several things happen. First, a security guards does his round, checks that doors are locked and windows closed, turns off lights and gets everything ready for the night. Notably, he takes the names of those still working. What purpose this serves is not clear to me. There is no reward for working long, one is not given extra mandatory vacation, nor are there any penalties. I guess it is mostly symbolic, the first obvious sign that one is not welcome anymore. Go home, come back tomorrow.
The second sign is more direct. A voice so loud and with such authority that one instinctively stops and listens announces over the PA system that the institute will close its doors at 8pm. No reaction is advised, but the message is clear.
The third sign is the most insidious. After 8pm, all the lights in the hallways are controlled by a timer. Five minutes after switching them on they go black again. This strongly dampens any motivation and eagerness to get work done. By the end of the day, when the sun sets outside, everyone remaining in lab is tired and needs every possible source of light to stay performant. The dark hallways say louder than any announcement could that work is not tolerated at night.
I find this already highly irritating and scarcely compatible with my way of working. But imagine my surprise and later my anger when this evening the guard came through and took my name before 7:30pm and I went upstairs minutes later to discover that my office with all my keys inside had been locked. Someone here is clearly overly ambitious. Luck wanted it that the big boss was still around. He had a general key, opened my office and prevented me from having to sleep in the lab. To my complaints that if the guards need to do their work they should at least wait till it's time, he just laughed and said, this is the way it is.
At the end of it, this story is just one more example of how the institute is run by bureaucrats and science-illiterate rule makers who do not care if their decisions and procedures impede us scientists or slow our research. And the big boss does not raise hell to make sure science comes first and everything else has to be in its support. What a contrast to where I did my graduate work.