Today I read an interesting article on how the 40-hour work week came about and its demise in recent years.
The first thing that I thought, reading this article was, what demise?
Then I thought about my parents and what their work weeks were like before retiring, how I always used to skip most of my lunch hour working in the UK and so on.
I’m lucky in many ways, I’ve not spent very long working a full time job, as after a few years of that I started studying again and have been working part time (and from a different country to my employer) ever since.
Yes, I work long hours, but I’m trying to study (at least) full time and work part time, so it goes with the territory.
This article spoke of all the poor sods who get into jobs where 50 or 60 hour weeks are asked of them, and this is not just the elite few getting paid huge amounts of money, but a lot of “normal” people as well.
Of course, this is based in the USA, where there’s no minimum leave allocation per year and according to some sort of research people find life fulfilment in their jobs more than people here in Europe, who find it in their, you know, life outside of work.
The end of the story is this, there is an enormous amount of research that has been done into the ineffectiveness of long work weeks, equally for manual labourers or “knowledge” workers – but that all gets thrown out the window when someone’s boss figures they can bump up the bottom line by demanding that their staff work more than they’re paid for.
Of course this probably just gets worse when jobs are scarce and it’s easy to replace an “unmotivated” worker for someone who’s willing to give the required 150%.