40-Hour Work Week – The Magic of Sustainable Growth

12 thoughts on “40-Hour Work Week – The Magic of Sustainable Growth”

  1. It’s interesting to see this topic again as I haven’t had to think about it much since 2006 but I was always a huge believer and advocate for work and home separation. That included the time spent with each. Is there another way to measure it?

    Here’s the analogy I often used. Suppose you are the supplier of paper for an office and you sign a contract to supply 40 reams of paper a week for X dollars. Shortly after you start delivering paper you are asked to supply 60 reams a week and the company will still pay you X dollars. Would you do it?

    As an employee all you have to offer is hours. Your compensation is based on an understanding of 40 hours a week. Why would you supply more goods than you are paid for. My personal experience is that if you set your employer’s (read manager) expectation that you work 40 hours there is no problem.

    From the employer side I don’t think you will find an HR (the R is also a clue) department that would admit to expecting 60 hours a week from the supplier of hours. They have to have a number for planning purposes and I’ll bet it’s 40 hours a week. If the job cannot be done in that time then management has a problem. If the job can be done in 40 hours a week and a particular employee can’t do it first look to see if the employee needs training. Then double check to see if other people are doing it in 40 hours. If it turns out the employee can’t do the job re-deploy them or let them go and replace them with someone who can. I’m willing to bet that 99% of the time it is not a problem with the employee.

    You also mentioned promotion. Do your best to find work that you love, or at least enjoy, and do it. That will bring you satisfaction. I’ve seen too many people promoted into jobs they don’t like and are not good at. Promotion is not a real measure of success. If you have a higher rank, more money and you’re miserable what have you done?

  2. Dear Luis – I have not fully read your post yet, but had to share this happy, wonderful coincidence. I was browsing some coworker blogs today and came across someone (whom I haven’t met) writing about time, boundaries, and how our always-on culture is not sustainable.

    I responded that it’s about setting boundaries and being clear and firm about them. And I referenced you, Mr. LAWWE, and that if you can do it, we can. And I came to your blog to just get a reference link…. and what is your blog post on today? ‘Why to not work more than 40-hours per week.’ How perfect is that??? Thank you. 🙂

  3. …. aaaaaand now I have read this wonderful post, and great comment from Tony too. I retweeted Tony’s statement, “I’ve seen too many people promoted into jobs they don’t like and are not good at.” I RT’d it because it makes me feel better about not wanting to be promoted. Let me keep doing work that fulfills me.

    Bravo Luis! The main calls to action that I hear for us are: 1) Take back our time (which is what my coworker blogger was writing about); 2) Help each other; 3) Focus on one thing at a time; 4) Stop assuming and believing that more hours = more results.

    Thank you for these important messages!

  4. Great post, Luis and thanks for the pointers to the other post. Very interesting. Good to read there’s research on the 40-hour work week. I talked to someone not to long ago how told me he leaves home every morning at 6:30, comes home at 19:30, has dinner, talks to the kids and wive and works from 22:00-1:00. Almost every day… I felt sad for him and his family. He told me as if he was proud of this. I think it’s crazy.

  5. Good post Luis – and as always a great thought provoker. There is another “added” dimension to this which might be worth raising in this context.
    Your focus is entirely on the “40 hour week” i.e on those who work “full time”.
    There is however – a great swathe of the population all over the world who – mainly women (though some men too) who are contracted to work “part-time” because they are the principal carers of their children, and choose to be – Arriving and leaving on time every day because of family who are also relying on them.
    They have no choice – they have to leave on time. No late staying.
    These workers often work relentlessly hard to get the job done in the allocated hours – often completing as much as a full-time employee because there is no flexibility in their schedule. Yet these workers are still only measured in their “part-time” role and often marginalised by teams and management because “well, they have to get off for the family” when in fact they are twice as productive. Their visibility is far less than the 40 hour week – by choice of course – but their workload is often bypassed and their chances of promotion (should they want it – and they may not) minimal because after all – they are “part-time”. And when they are expected to do more in those “part-time” hours that makes their job look like a compressed file of impossibility – who speaks out for them? They leave on time after all.

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