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Continued from Previous……
In Part 3, we continue to look at reasons for loss of work life balance.
- Late Sitting at Office: How many work hours should we work in a week? The stats were always variable and are becoming more so due to new experiments in flexi-hours and working-from-home. Yes, these were more initially more applicable in digital space, but now companies are applying these principals to other trades as well. Europeans historically worked less hours; Germany had average of 40 hours per week. Same is true for Japan. US has highest average with some people clocking in even up to 100 hours a week, which is truly excessive. Working for 60-80 hours is pretty common. Pakistan has rules dictating 48 hours work week, like most other countries. There are rules also for overtime hours. Overtime, however, is usually limited to labor. The so-called officers are entitled to over time in fewer companies, and managers are not entitled to overtime at all. Exploitation occurs at all levels, but labor is either spared or paid overtime. The officers and managers suffer silently, and their extra hours are not recognized even.
Late sitting has been around for a long time, but lately it has become a way of life in many organizations. People work late every day, adding 2-3 hours to workday.
There are several reasons for late sitting.
- The amount of work assigned is bigger and it becomes mandatory to put in more hours. If it is not done, the work keeps piling up and catching up becomes difficult.
- There are too many meetings which eat up bulk of the time, leaving not enough time for own work. Office meetings are also a subject worth looking into. Many meetings keep losing track and hence time because the person conducting the meeting is unable to handle it. The agenda is not clear; the participants are not prepared; the participants are powerful and make the meeting go astray; the meeting duration is not defined; the presenters do not adhere to time allocated to them; and the meeting goes into a totally different direction compared to what it was intended to be. I asked my secretary to keep a count of hours I spent in meetings and what percentage of total time it was. I also said if it exceeded 50% of total time, I had to be alerted immediately. Many a weeks it did exceed and had to be brought back forcefully.
- Most offices are non-smoking places now. Smokers keep going out every now and then to smoke and the breaks keep getting longer. These guys will have to sit late to compensate for the lost work though it may appear they are sitting late due to more work.
- Family circumstances are yet another reason for sitting late in office. Those who have strained relations prefer to go home late to avoid conflicts. It is a poor strategy, but it is there anyway. Rather than leaving office and spending time and money elsewhere, it is better to sit in the office. It is convenient; it saves money and it may enhance reputation. On the other hand, some people wish to stay longer to enjoy cooling or heating which may not be there at home. It may sound selfish, but we are so.
- Finally, the biggest of all reasons is to show off; that we love the company and love our work; that we are oh so dedicated; that we prefer work over all other things in life; and that we are ambitious (read Dying) to grow. This reason is the worst as it puts undue pressure on others who may not subscribe to same theories. It pollutes the environment and brings toxicity in the workplace.
- Passion to Grow: This is the most common and valid reason for loss of work life balance. It is understood that if you work 9 to 5, you only justify your current salary and status. If you want to get a higher status and/or higher income, you have to work extra. It is arguable if extra work is only extra hours or extra quality. But generally, extra quality is measured by extra hours clocked in consistently. It is certainly true that one needs to perform extraordinary in order to grow in extraordinary manner. Otherwise, regular increment will keep coming and a status change will come after several years. Passion to Grow is an acceptable cause but needs to be handled better.
These then are various reasons for loss of work life balance. It is still not an exhaustive list, but it serves our purpose of setting the context.
In the next blog, we shall discuss possible tools and remedies to better manage work life balance. InshaAllah.