There’s an old saying – no one went to their grave wishing they’d spent more time in the office. But work, or getting to work is somewhere we spend the majority of our waking lives – for many of us, much more time than we spend sleeping.
The average worker in OECD countries spends 1,776 hours a year working – ranging from 2,250 hours in Mexico to 1,379 in the Netherlands.
Although official figures would suggest that the number of hours worked is in decline, the reality for most people in white-collar roles – especially in the private sector, would appear different.
In America, for example, according to the Department of Labor’s American Time Use Survey, while the average full-time employee’s workday has stayed consistent in recent years (at 8.4 hours), the proportion of people who work on the weekends has slowly increased to 35 per cent. Few office workers are on overtime to reward them financially for this additional effort.
As technology makes more and more people available 24/7, the boundaries between work and personal life will become increasingly blurred and it will be hard to see where one starts and the other begins.
“Presenteeism”, resulting from specific company cultures or simply from fear of being seen not to be important or needed, results in countless office workers putting inunpaid overtime in the office, while still ostensibly working to defined hours. Others (or often the same people) see office work leaking into their home life, simply to keep up, or to compensate from economies and cuts.
Different people react to this in different ways. Younger workers, whose lives are increasingly defined by being “always on,” by virtue of their evolving media usage, appear to adapt more easily.
What challenges do you think we face in the future due to changes brought by the digital age? Is technology having a positive or negative impact on your workplace? Share your comments below.
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