« Joie de V. | Main | Reserve »

Aug 10, 2006


Punch_clock_1 How much time do you spend working when you're at work?  How about your colleagues?

Never mind the question of value-add.  I just want to know how much time people spend working.

Back in the old days when I was an engineer, I think I spent an average of 50 hours at the office each workweek (not counting vacations and holidays), and an average of 25-30 hours actually working (as opposed to yakking, doing non-work tasks like reading irrelevant magazine articles, or sending emails to friends).  As you can imagine, this was a doubly bad situation.

These days I suspect that I spend an average of 30 hours "at the office" (i.e., at the desk or at a client's office with the intention of being productive) per week, of which I suspect I spend an average of 15-20 hours actually working.  I'd like to get the actual work hours up to a consistent 24 per week, and wouldn't mind reducing the "at the office" time by 2-4 hours.

For those professionals among you reading this blog (i.e., probably all of you), my work hours might sound either ridiculous or heavenly, depending on your attitude.  But I suspect all of us can count our blessings that we're not working in retail service where you have to work pretty much every moment you're there save for a couple of fifteen minute breaks.  I have never complained about bad service at a fast food restaurant.  And unless someone at Hardee's starts cursing or spitting at me, I doubt I'll change my habits any time soon.


Photo yoinked from Growabrain's jobblog archives, a hilarious "collected hahas of the world of work" blog that I just discovered while looking for a punchcard clock pic.

12:52 AM in Weblogs | Permalink


i used to spend a lot of work hours doing non-work stuff, but my group has gotten smaller with no reduction in workload, so these days i spend almost all of my time at work actually working. in fact, i feel a little resentful if my presence is needed in a non-work e-mail conversation during the day. like "hello, actually working here, people!"

Posted by: lisa | Aug 10, 2006 1:15:15 AM

Apropos to today's blog -- how do hardworking people (like Lisa) find daytime hours to do stuff like banking?

For instance, here are some of my tasks from today: dealing with the fact that I lost my wallet and camera bag last night after a trip to the Harris Teeter. It looks like I left the bag in the shopping cart (dark cart, dark bag, dark night) and that whoever found it didn't turn it in.

So... On the phone with my banks for two debit cards, a credit card, and my checkbook (I never carry my checkbook but I had it yesterday). And losses: $20 in cash, my driver's license, my voice recorder ($70), my Nikon D70 ($750), two extra memory cards (~$80), my Tamrac camera bag ($100), a notebook with a few notes (none critical). Expense! Annoyance!!! Particularly since I have no insurance for things like the camera, and particularly since I'm just now emerging from the fallout of an eBay account theft back in March. Grrrumble. I think I'm going to take a nap now. You know, that other thing that would be hard to do if I worked a real job.

Then again, if I had a real job maybe I wouldn't feel the pinch of last night's $ losses.

Posted by: Phil | Aug 10, 2006 12:54:24 PM

oh god, Phil, how awful!! Do you need help with anything?

Posted by: Sarah | Aug 10, 2006 5:29:36 PM

Oh Philcito, that's terrible.

Posted by: Stew | Aug 10, 2006 10:12:01 PM

egads, phil, that's awful.

in my situation, that would be a special case, and my boss and co-workers would understand. sometimes you need some time to deal with life stuff. when moses was diagnosed with hyperthyroid, my manager made a point of saying that i should take the time i needed for his treatment.

and yes-- being salaried makes it easier to face big expenses and losses. i know i can borrow on my house to pay for, say, a new heating and cooling system, and i'll have steady money coming in every month to pay it off.

for little things like small everyday errands, phone calls, etc-- i just work those things in when i can. on my lunch hour or as the day permits.

Posted by: lisa | Aug 10, 2006 10:18:20 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your wallet and camera. It's a pain in the ass to replace all that stuff. Maybe someone nice will find your bag and hand it in (fingers crossed)

Posted by: Marianne | Aug 10, 2006 10:58:07 PM

Dear friends -- thank you for your notes and email hugs. They make me feel better. And Sarah, I guess what I need help with is remembering to keep track of my stuff. Any chance you could inject something useful into my brain?

Lisa -- what do you think of companies who do things like provide healthy snacks, concierge services, onsite gyms, etc. In the net, how much of that serves to let staff have happy lives without spending too much time driving from place to place to get things done vs. how much of that serves to get people to spend even more time at the office? Some of both, I imagine. But does either dominate?

Posted by: Phil | Aug 10, 2006 11:20:13 PM

well, as you know, my company does all of that stuff :) the biggest two helps are the on-site health care, and the on-site daycare. people spend SO much less time away from the office because of those things.

i sometimes think the on-site gym is a genuine distraction for those who are really into it. but the shower/locker room in the basement of my building probably is a huge help to the many joggers and bicyclists in my building.

the company cafe's are a huge time saver, too, but i think it's so typical for a company our size to have a cafeteria that that's not something that makes us different.

Posted by: lisa | Aug 11, 2006 7:14:48 AM