Sunday, November 25, 2007

would an hour by any other number be as useful?

"The first and great necessity of the present to free labour of this country from capitalist slavery, is the passing of a law by which eight hours shall be the normal working day in all States of the American Union. We are resolved to put forth all our strength until this glorious result is achieved."
Okay. So first off I would like to say- thank you Labor Movement and political pioneers for ensuring that industrial workers had rights that not only included the right to benefits and unionization, but also the eight-hour work day. This was an excellent idea, and a most advantageous step forward for the regular people's cause. All that being said, I feel that an eight hour day in corporate settings is now all but complete bullshit.
While you might think that I am only just recently realizing/learning or feeling this because I know have a regular ole' 9 to 5 but no no no, I realized this back when I was just a lowly intern and S.A. I mean, how do people in a corporate environment usually spend their time? Let me break it down for you in the standard 9-5 work day.
9-9:30 Settle In. This includes turning on one's computer, checking e-mails (and by checking I mean only looking to see that they are of course there, not actually reading them), putting away jackets, coats, etc. and deciding whether or not you are hungry enough to go get something to eat.

9:30-9:40 Still just figuring it out. Are you really hungry? Well damn, it's almost ten, you really ought to get it together.

9:40-10:00 Settle down.. again. So this is the time where our hungry and/or thirsty workers would go grab a cup of coffee or bagel or yogurt or order something. If you are not eating? This time is probably spent saying hello to someone in the office, either someone passing by or someone that you sit within close proximity off. High-wall cubicles are at risk of a 30 minute "settle down again" as their work spaces contribute to people walking by and standing within the otherwise isolated cubicle for a more intimate, and thus longer talk.

10:00-11:45 Get Down On It. Good job, you are really being productive. Answering e-mails, setting up or attending meetings, calling internal and external partners. This is great, this is what working is all about!!!

11:45-12:00 So, is it time to eat again or what? These fifteen minutes are crucial to your stomach, because this is the time that you will decide whether or not you will eat soon. You will also probably use this time to call an office friend or gchat some potential lunch partners. Then you will need to also figure out where you are going. We really should have dedicated 20 minutes to this.

12:00-12:45 Work it Out. So you've decided to push lunch back to one. Good! Now you can productively use this extra hour! You continue to e-mail and call and do other corporate-like work things.

12:45-1:00 Let's Get Ready to Rumble. During this time you call or chat your lunch parter to make sure that they will be ready to go. You establish a meeting place and destination. You check your personal e-mail and then make sure you have your wallet/purse and get your coat if you need it. Getting together these items is essential, you are lucky you can fit this into fifteen minutes.

1:00-2:10 Lunch! The most glorious part of the day. You eat something delicious and have a conversation. Excellent.

2:10-2:20 Settling Some More. Now that you're back at your workspace you have to un-get-ready. That means put away your personal items, say some more hellos to people in your office and look to see if you have voicemails.

2:20-2:40 Voicemail tiiime. Listen and respond to these. This is a very necessary but very boring part of your day.

2:40-3:10 The Internet is Your Friend. Let's not lie to ourselves. You will probably use this time to check your favorite blogs, see who has new pictures on facebook, answer a couple g-mails and/or do something for one of your out-of-the-office ventures.

3:10-3:30 Time for a Snack! This time is used procuring a snack or beverage of some sort. You will run into someone you like along the way and have a conversation either at their desk or in front of the water cooler- proverbial or real.

3:30-4:30 Work work work. Good job, you are back at your desk ready to contribute. You are a rock star at this point and get a bunch of crap done.

4:30-4:40 Lullaby Baby. Okay I'm not going to lie, you don't really do anything during this time. At least you don't really complete anything.

4:40-4:50 Oh Crap! It's almost time to leave, you better do something!

4:50-5:00 Ahhhh. You get something done. Check! Look at your checklist- don't you feel acomplished?

5:00-5:05 Peace Up, A Town Down. Somehow you manage to get ready, say goodbye and get your things in 5 minutes. You peace out until tomorrow.
Okay, so after reading all this, and if my entry-level brethren are completely honest with me and themselves, you can see that during the work day you spend a good 25-30% doing absolutely nothing that contributes to your company's bottom-line. I bet some of you even spend more time than I put on that schedule doing things like checking facebook. Let's see what the actual breakdown was:
240 min. Working
115 min. "Getting Ready"
90 min. Eating
50 min. Personal Internet
Like really, word? The most crazy part? YOU WILL DO THIS AND GET EVERYTHING DONE THAT YOU NEED TO DO ON-TIME OR EVEN EARLY. And be really honest with yourselves and break down your day's work-to-not-work-but-really-crap ratio and see what you come up with. Clearly I cannot speak for my finance and banking people- but if you are honest I am sure that none of you spend 100% of your work day doing things other than working and eating. All this has led me to believe that the eight-hour work day in these sorts of environments has become both null and void and that we need to institute something new. Something daring. Something different. Something like...
Oh come on, like you didn't see that coming.
I mean really, I feel like 6 hours would be such a more useful structuring of our time. More time to rest at home so that you are productive at work, less time to dilly-dally around. When you have less time most people have a fire under their ass to do things. I feel like this set-up could potentially really increase productivity ALONG with workforce contentment.

How do you feel?


kidbonita said...

6 hours are definitely preferable to the 12-15 that many people put in on a daily basis. a lot of salaried positions (not just lawyers, folks) expect that you are going to work long, long days and be available via cell phone, internet or one of those combos deals like the blackberry or iphone...some people may get away with dilly-dallying at the office all day but there are many unfortunates who actually work themselves into a stress / panic attack, heart attack, etc.

also, with a 6 hour day you can hire more people so the unemployment rate can drop!

Brittany said...

See, exactly- I am not even counting the time that people spend working on work OUTSIDE of work- checking e-mails and doing research and coming up with ideas.

Ingrid said...

I wish I had seen this earlier - I about to send it to all of my coworkers - this is too true and is the cause of my hatred for 9-5. (And yes, I am aware that hatred is a strong word)