NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The weather is warming and the flowers are blooming, but that doesn't mean you can leave work early. Believe it or not, your managers really do notice when you vanish for a long lunch or an unannounced half-day. We checked in with experts who weigh in on how disappearing acts could cost you your job -- and how to enjoy some hours of downtime without worrying about getting caught.
"Most people will admit that when the weather is nice, it can be tempting to slip out of work a few minutes early to enjoy the pleasant season, especially after a winter that was so harsh for so much of the country," says Steve Moore, director of human resource operations for Insperity.
While many bosses understand it's necessary to leave a few minutes early or take a long lunch on occasion, companies have regular work schedules for a reason and intend for those hours to be acknowledged, Moore says. Leaving early, much like coming in late, can be seen as a disregard for company policy.
"When others work late or even normal hours, those who leave early may not appear to be team players, which can frustrate those who stick around," Moore says.
This is not the job market to take liberties in, says Paul Sorbera, president of Alliance Consulting. Anyone who slips out without permission is putting themselves at risk -- even once could be enough to get you fired in this economy.
"What happens when you are gone and needed for something important?" Sorbera asks. "This is the kind of environment where if you leave in the middle of a stressful situation or important project and no one knows where you are, you could get fired."
Even if it seems like a slow day when you leave the office, if an unforeseen problem arises with an important client, you'll be seen as having "abandoned ship" when your bosses come looking for you.
Of course, this doesn't mean you have to work until 8 every night, says Tom Gimbel, president and CEO of LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based staffing firm. Most bosses understand it's OK to stay late to finish a project one night and head out a little early to grab dinner with friends the next -- but you can't make a habit of disappearing as soon as the weather warms up, especially if there is work left to be done.
"If a project is incomplete and you're heading out of the office early, to management that directly translates as a lack of passion and work ethic," Gimbel says.
Even if your supervisor's opinion doesn't concern you, the opinion of your colleagues definitely should, says Robert Hosking, executive director at staffing firm OfficeTeam.
"You may think that occasionally sneaking out of work early is no big deal. In the grand scheme of things, it seems pretty minor. However, you don't want co-workers to think you're slacking off. Making a habit of leaving early could impact others' perception of your professionalism," Hosking says.
Occasionally everyone will need to take a long lunch or leave early, and there's no rule against enjoying the beautiful weather while still accomplishing something. Here are five suggestions for enjoying the spring while keeping your career intact: