Tuesday, April 04, 2006

35 hrs per week

How can you be productive if you only work 35 hrs per week ? How can you actually do any work if you work only about 7 hours a day ?

I came up with this number, which is the hours a week an average person works in France, Germany and some part of the EU. This is not a new phenomenon and was not introduced to spite the Americans, Asians and other harder working people of the world. The concept behind this work week is that people work to lead a better life. And so they also need time to spend with their family so that they can lead a better life.

I was born in India, grew up in India, and worked my first job in India. The life and work week before i started, was a regular 40+5 hours week, where the extra 5 hrs came from Saturday. But yet life was a lot sane and tame. When i started work in NIIT, 40hrs a week was the starting point, it then ranged between 60-90 hrs during a typical work week. Then again, when you actually analysed the time you spent doing real work, you quickly observe that over 30% of the time was wasted in non work related stuff. And when you took out all this wasted time and factor in all the rework you had to do, because you didn't do it right the first time, the good old 40 hr week would have easily achieved the same quality of output.

When i came to America, it appeared as if i bought this problem with me. It really had to do with the increasing role and profile of the Information and Technology departments within large companies. This was further exasperated by the evolution of internet in the late 90s and the fight to solve the Y2K problem. Suddenly it was fashionable to spend every waking and sleeping hour at work, under and over the desk and cube, slopping around in home clothes at work. All of these were strangely but intrinsically connected with my career and line of work. I am thankful, in some way, because my success in life came with this same technology revolution. A lot of good came out of this, but so did a lot of bad.

Few symptoms of this work and life stye:
- your current best friends are people who meet at work everyday
- movies and outings are spent with co-workers and family
- eat junk food (food served by the company)
- no time to exercise, because you need to be at work
- the sun is down and out, and its really dark, when you reach home.
- all work is due COB today.
- there are no non-critical tasks

I can go on. But, I do make a lot of money. I do have a lot of fun. I love what i do at work. And, I do have a lot of friends. But i do also realize and see the pressure this building on me and my family. I only hope that i will find time eventually when i can sit back and relax for all the hard work accumulated all these years.

Till then, three cheers to the French and German worker. Hope they are able to spread their success to the rest of the world.

No comments: