Problems with the balance between the demands of profit-driven corporations and peoples’ need to live a satisfying life won’t be cured by policy statements and procedure manuals. That isn’t where the causes lie. They’re inside peoples’ heads: obsessive achievement drive, ambition gone mad, laughable greed for money and power, and blithe disregard of anything not linked to short-term results. Macho, “grab ‘n go” bosses don’t treat underlings like cattle to be milked of every ounce of effort because they’ve selected incorrect HR policies. They do it because they have dysfunctional values and massively over-inflated egos.
Work/life balance is an issue of civilization. It’s driven by simplistic, financially-derived goals, an unthinking ideology of “winner takes all,” and contempt for those unable to keep up. It’s the result of achievement motivation run wild. Until executives (and wannabe executives) realize they’ve created a monster that’s out of control — one that will eventually devour their lives and health too — no amount of policy-writing will make any difference.
This seems to be a very simple proposition to me, but then I’m a simple man.
There are 168 hours (24 x 7) in a seven-day week.
Allowing ten hours a day for sleep, meals and personal hygiene, this leaves us with 98 potentially productive hours to work (and conduct our lives!) Let’s call it 100, because you’re gonna skip lunch at least a day or two.
(This assumes that you have no religious prohibitions against working on one of the days of the week, an assumption we’ve made to simplify the math.)
I don’t know anyone in New York in any professional job who works a strict 40-hour week, though they must be out there.
But if you are consistently spending much more than half of your available waking hours on the job–if you’re consistently exceeding the 50-hour-a-week mark by a wide enough margin–that should be a gigantic red flag that your work and your life are out of balance.
And you should do something about it.(Also posted at Knowledge Work.)