I live in North America, and I work a 9 to 5, 5 days a week interacting with the same people over and over again. Straddling lines between professional, witty, sharp, friendly, hardworking, easygoing and whatever other characteristic a moment at the office calls for. These people claim to be part of a culture – your work family. “You’re all in this together”. A team that works hard together becomes successful together, right?
Congratulations you are now full-time! But maybe it’s really ‘Congratulations! You just sold your life away! You will give us the best parts of your week, Monday through Friday and if we want maybe your Saturday and Sunday too.’ – This is what I believe your employers are really saying when they hand you your well deserved full-time contracts. We are welcome into full-time roles with celebration and cheer when in actuality, its just your employer trying to cut down the costs and continually breach your agreed upon contracts by using your services for free outside your business ours.
Now, you get benefits and are part of company socials and office perks. Free note books, stationary, standing desks and if you are so lucky aerodynamic office chairs and a company credit card. What?! Wow! So lucky!
But before you start celebrating picture this:
- A week consists of 168 hours
- To remain healthy and functional, the average person needs to spend 56 of those hours sleeping. (Math: 168hrs – 56hrs = 112hrs)
- Leaving 112 hours of usable time per week. Usable time is time that we are awake.
- Of the 112 hours we sell our employers the most productive/valuable portions, i.e 9am to 5pm 5 days a week (for many) this adds up to 40hours per week.
But hang on! It’s really more than 40hrs per week. Lets brake that down:
- The 1hr it takes (approximately) for us to prepare for work every morning (Math: 1hr x 5 days = 5hrs/week) on average.
- The 30 mins to 1hr (on avg) it takes to travel to work = 2.5 to 5hrs/week
- The 30 mins to 1hr (on avg) it takes to travel back from work = 2.5 to 5hrs/week
- The sum of that adds up to approximately 15hrs (on avg) which means we are actually giving up about 55hrs per week to our employers and only being compensated for 40hrs of it
- (Math: 5hrs + 5hrs + 5hrs = 15hrs) extra per week dedicated to work). Lets call this “Prep and Travel time”
- Therefore, on average we are actually dedicating 11hrs per day towards our employers. 8hrs at work + an extra 3hrs of prep and travel time that we are not compensated for.
- Now we are left with 57 hrs : (Math: 112hrs minus 55hrs)
So how much personal time (on average) are we getting per day? Lets brake this down:
- (Math: 24hrs (a full day) – 11hrs (dedicated to your work) – 8hrs (to sleep/rest) = 5hrs per day for personal time.
- That translates to only 25hrs per week of self-care. Keeping in mind these are the less usable hours of the day (i.e later in the day, rush hour, limited access to resources past business hours, less energy/productive from having worked a full day)
- Therefore, its likely that many of us don’t actually get the benefit of the full 25 hours left to us.
- Of the 112 usable hours only 32 are completely dedicated to us on the weekends. (Math: 48hrs (2 days) – 16hrs (sleep time) = 32hrs)
Therefore in a week we only have access to 32hrs of 168hrs.
The sad part is, those numbers only exist in a perfect world since many of us don’t actually stop working after the 40hr marker. This means even less than 32 hours of personal time.
Its 7:15 pm on a Sunday night. Minutes ago I switched off my work email notifications because somehow even though I dedicate the best 55hrs of my 80hrs from Monday through Friday, I still get sucked into giving up more of the little time I have left to myself on the weekend. And so do many of you.
As my ‘career’ advances and I work towards fulfilling ‘my dreams’ I’m beginning to realize that I am in fact fulfilling the dreams of someone else. This company, this objective, this vision, this philosophy, isn’t mine. I’m merely a cog in this elaborate contraption. Every town-hall meeting to discuss company success and boost employee moral exposes the gimmick more and more to me.
This is the gimmick:
– We are a team working hard towards a common goal
– The company success is directly tied to our personal success
– The company has a vested interest in us succeeding and reaching our personal goals
– Recognition from our peers for a job well done validates and makes up for all the long nights, and lost personal/family time.
Here’s the reality:
– Unless your goals are to help your employer fulfill his/her dreams, this is false.
– This is also false as most of us don’t get a dime of company profits – unless you’re rich enough to by shares
– No company i’m aware of has helped an employee succeed enough to outgrow the need to work for them.
– Unless you were paid overtime or given lost family time back, this is also untrue.
So what should we do?