I work in an industry that’s renowned for working horrific hours. My contract states that the working hours for people in my office are 9:30am-5:30pm, Monday-Friday, with one hour per day for lunch. That makes 35 hours per week. But only the other day someone said that they had announced to the rest of their team that they were ‘no longer going to work weekends’ and they were astonished that they’d managed to ‘get away with it 75% of the time.’
Now is it just me or does there seem to be a bit of a gap there? It’s not like my job is saving lives so what possible reason could there be to have to work until midnight every night just to keep up with the work culture?
The Bible says ‘Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men’ (Colossians 3:23). God wants us to work hard, end of story. Slacking off because you don’t want to miss The Apprentice isn’t a Christian attitude.
But I’ve got some news for you. The reason the West has fallen into an established 40-hour work week (9-5, Monday-Friday) is that people with the knowledge performed some detailed analysis that showed that this produces the ultimate amount of net productivity. Note: that doesn’t mean people are more productive per hour at 40 hours per week, that means that people are more productive full stop – someone working a 40-hour week will create more output than someone working 30 hours or someone working 50 hours.
So a silly example – three people are paid to draw massive circles on paper. One works 30 hours in a week and draws 1,500 circles. The second works 50 hours and draws 1,750 circles. But the third works 40 hours and draws 2,000 circles. Net output is highest at 40 hours per week.
And just to clarify, this is over a period of at least three weeks or so – sticking an extra couple of hours in on the odd occasion to meet a deadline or whatever is a different story.
By the way, the most common response to this is a version of ‘That might be alright for you, but in my job I need to work that long to be productive enough.’ Listen carefully to yourself, and realise that your long hours have restricted your ability to think straight. You’re welcome.