80 hour work weeks
My friend Natasha pointed me to an article in De Pers about people working 80 hour work weeks in the Netherlands, rare creatures indeed. Fortunately, she also pointed out that it is apparently a slow news day. The author had interviewed five or so people and the article consists mainly of their words, which is a nice job if you can get it. It almost made me feel sorry I once quit journalism.
I have a problem with people in intellectual jobs claiming to work 80 hour work weeks, and it is this:
The actual amount of work done seems to be overshadowed by large swaths of posturing. I’d say:
- Actual work, 37.5 %
- Harassing co-workers with mindless meetings and micro-managing, 10 %
- Being at the office, going through the motions, 27.5 %
- Being at home, being available and reading documentation, 25 %
I know these 80 hour work weekers. It’s not that they don’t work hard. I am an entrepreneur, so I put in a fair share of hours myself. I have customers who call me at 10 at night on a Saturday evening, expecting me to drop everything to listen to problems that would easily survive the weekend even if nobody did anything—and some of whom would be irked if I billed them for that time. The thing is, being available all the time, not really having your own time, that sort of gets to you. There is rest and there is rest. I can well imagine that people in similar roles want some appreciation for what they do. But it’s not work.
The Polish guy who came to the Netherlands to put in your second bath room that you are paying for with your 80 billable hours per week, now he is actually working 80 hours a week.
One of my biggest fears is getting in an accident, because I don’t want to be operated on by the sort of goofball who thinks putting in 80 hours in the operating room makes him a hero. Give me a fresh and relaxed surgeon any day.
Here’s how you could reply if somebody pontificates about their long hours:
Does it take you eighty hours to get a week’s work done? I’d work a little harder if I were you :-)