Break Free from Round the Clock Availability

A recent survey by Mozy, the online backup provider, found that on a global basis, workers are putting in far more time at the office than the traditional nine to five–and that their bosses are underestimating how much time they put in.

Globally, workers spent nine to 10 hours a day in the office, and were available via email 11 to 12 hours. The average employee started work at 8:18 am, leaves the office at 5:48 and stops working completely at 7:19 pm.

Americans stay online the longest–nearly 12 hours a day. On average they’ve put in almost an hour of time online before they even get to work.

The survey also found that 80% of bosses think it’s okay to call staff in the evening. On average, U.S. bosses said the latest they felt comfortable calling was 7:15 p.m. or so. There was even a small portion–1.4%– who think it’s fine to call after midnight.

There’s a tradeoff. For instance, 36% of bosses now think it’s okay for employees to take a break to chat, and 13% are fine with employees tackling personal tasks like online shopping during the work day.

The sample size was small. On behalf of Mozy, Vanson Bourne surveyed 500 employees and 500 employers in France, Germany, Ireland, the U.K. and the U.S.

What struck me from these findings: It’s now a given that workers are expected to put in more time than in the past, yet they’re not getting credit for it. If bosses don’t even know that their employees are logging more work time than the company realizes, you can bet that their teams are getting underpaid.

Even if an employee is “lucky” enough to work for the small percentage of bosses who thinks it’s okay to, say, order the children’s backpacks for school online from work, that’s because the supervisors know full well that workers are spending time at home working instead of keeping up with their lives.

These trends are not going to go away. And I’d venture that this is why so many workers in traditional jobs are extremely stressed out and disgruntled. Working hours like these can put severe strain on our personal relationships, leaves working parents away from their children from most of the daylight hours, and allows little time for other pursuits, whether they are creative or charitable. Some of these companies essentially own their workers lives. (I hope none of you reading this work for a boss who thinks it’s okay to call you after midnight–unless you’re on the night shift!)

If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own business, imagine the results you’d get if you invested the same hours you’re expected to log at a corporate job and were available to your clients 75% of the hours you’re on call at work now.

I’d venture that many top professionals, once established for a few years, would actually make more money than they do in corporate America working fewer hours–far more than they need to earn to cover the hefty cost of health insurance and then some.

And they’d be a lot happier.

(Here’s our review of Mozy’s backup services.)


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