“Six days shalt thou work …

and do all thou art able (on the seventh the same, and sweep out the stable)”

One doggedly persistent concept that keeps getting knocked about and kicked in the shins is the legendary 40-hour work week.  Legendary, because there are documentable instances of individuals who have achieved and maintained such a lofty goal (it would be mythical if no mortal being could achieve such a condition).  Knocked about and kicked where it hurts because for the vast majority of people I am aware of the work nearly always exceeds the limits of five days at eight hours each.

Usually more like a minimum of nine hours each day for six days out of seven, and something more than that on at least one additional day.

Where’s my proof, you ask?  Consider the modern “knowledge worker”, required by an employer to inhabit an office for purposes of control and security (we’ll come back to the security aspect in a bit…).  Is our paragon of productivity housed on-location?  Almost certainly not, so we add a required commute to the office and back again to the living quarters.  Let’s be generous and only give Paragon thirty minutes for each leg of the commute.  We’ll stick with the 8-to-5 daily schedule, with an assumption of one hour allowance each day for lunch or other personal (non-work) break.  Now, factor in the expectation for accessibility 24x7x363 — we’ll be generous in this exercise and designate Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day as non-working holidays.  Include the probable requirement for mandatory-in-all-but-name company functions at night or on weekends:  holiday “parties”, “retreats”, “volunteer opportunities”, etc.

We’ll allow half-credit for vacation time actually scheduled and taken (full credit only if no expectation exists for the vacationing worker to check email, remain reachable by telephone, or be on conference calls during the time away from the office).  Additional kudos and partial credit for coffee breaks, with double credit if the business provides the coffee / tea / snack service and reduced credit if pay is deducted automatically whether or not Paragon actually drinks coffee.  (We’ll remain neutral on “smoke breaks” for now, OK?)

Wipe out three-quarters of any credits otherwise earned by the workplace if the current workload requires “take-home” work, reduces available training time during the normal workday, or makes overtime hours mandatory outside of traditional “busy season” timeframes.

Calculators at the ready?  Naw, no real need to add to brain-strain.  If you can find a modern, effective, productive knowledge worker who spends less than 50 hours a week in work-related activity, show me where they are working — I wanna apply there!

Bad news, and there is some:  a “creative” worker on average will be logging something closer to 70 or 80 hours in that same week in order to produce anything like an equivalent income.  Maybe more, if they are conducting their own marketing efforts.

There are REASONS that people are reporting more fatigue in their lives now than in my parent’s generation.  You wanna try and legislate a “living wage” and in all likelihood take away good entry-level jobs from the available pool?  Good luck, my friend, and in the most direct Southern manner “Bless your heart”.

Yer gonna need every advantage you can get when the villagers show up with the “bricked” cellphones they can’t pay for and the burning-resume torches for the jobs you just made disappear.

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