Being in Aveylus, of course, sensitises me to such issues. I am sure I am not the first nor am I the last. It’s not a unique situation, of course, so I’m interested to hear others views. Disclaimer: I haven’t reviewed the halachos, which I will hopefully on the weekend, and am working off memory.
The Mishna B’rura (and others) point out that if someone comes late to Shule (let’s say Shachris), then depending on how late they come, they should skip certain pre-tefillos, and make sure that ultimately, they commence Shmoneh Esreh with the Chazan. Shmoneh Esreh is Tfilla, and all else is a preamble, although we have to say Krias Shma before its appointed time. In such a situation, one who has skipped sections, ideally should return to them and complete them later.
Shachris often presents a dichotomy, especially in older established Shules. Some Mispallelim work for a living. They daven, then may go home to eat breakfast, help out with the kids and then ensure that they are at their workplace on time. Many start work at 9am, some start earlier. There are others, who either don’t work (perhaps they are retired or unemployed or incapacitated) or have less of an issue about being at the workplace at a particular time.
It is not always possible to have a Minyan that davens relatively slowly and starts at the crack of dawn. Many different issues come into play. It is quite common to find minyanim that daven at a brisk rate. When I say brisk rate, I don’t mean a pun on the city of Brisk. Rather, I mean, at a rate where one can say each work, but do so quickly, and without much time to meditate on words/phrases. Shma and Shmone Esreh tend to be different. Shma is meant to be said so that one can audibly hear oneself and ideally said with the Trop. Shmoneh Esreh (the silent one) usually is a bit slower, as I pointed out above, it IS Tefillah, ultimately.
Now, this view of the Mishna Brura and others is not universal. Minhag Chabad based on the Alter Rebbe, the Baal HaTanya and Shulchan Aruch HoRav, is to always daven in order. That is, not to skip. If that means that one isn’t up to the minyan at Shmoneh Esreh, so be it.
I’m not sure, however, that the view of the Alter Rebbe was that if one finds oneself davening in such a minyan, that one should never say Tefillah B’Tzibbur. Perhaps, and I am stretching with no Mekor, he would argue that in such a situation one should begin davening privately and come earlier so that when Shmoneh Esreh came along, one was with the rest of the Minyan. Either that, or he’d say find a Minyan that davens at your pace.
On the flip side of the coin, the Yeshivish/Litvishe types who tend to say each work aloud (not just Shma) and/or extend their own quiet Shmoneh Esreh for a longish time, may cause those who have to go to work, to wait for them to have a minyan answering Amen. Perhaps, they too should come earlier to Minyan so that they can “kill two birds with one stone” so to speak?
I discussed this issue with one Mispallel where I daven, who happens to learn in a Kollel each day, and he said to me that he saw somewhere that the Mishna Brura’s advice of skipping is only when one comes late. But, if someone didn’t come late, then he should daven at his normal pace, even if this means that the rest of the Minyan might be waiting for him so that they can start Shmoneh Esreh (quietly) or for Chazoras HaShatz. He couldn’t recall where he had seen this difference.
Given that I daven for the Amud, as an Avel, I’m acutely aware that those who have come to the minyan include people who need to leave by a certain time, and I try to keep things moving.
The above two categories of Mispallelim can sometimes cause angst in that it makes it harder for the Minyan to be “worker friendly”.