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Working hours

The subject of working hours within our industry has always been a hot topic, with long hours and “hustling” common place. There seems to be a perception that working late nights and weekends is normal for working within the web industry and within web agencies. Whilst this is often seen as a badge of honour to put in extra hours, I’ve always thought that it was a sign of things going wrong that extra hours were needed.

Working hours came to my attention again recently after reading an article by a project manager within a web agency, in which he states that:

Working with a rapidly growing web agency means that you are required to put in late nights and weekends.

before going on to say that as a result of these hours he will have to enjoy his hobbies and interests outside of work in moderation as a result of his work.

Whilst that may be his situation, and I don’t personally know the individual or the circumstances within his organisation, my immediate reaction was to think that there was something majorly wrong for that to be the situation that he finds himself in.

Regularly working past the end of the day suggests that either that too much work has been taken on or that there is a lack of organisation that has left the project in such a situation that requires late working. Either situation is not sustainable and must be addressed before major issues appear. Studies have consistently shown that shorter working hours produce better results and that once an individual has worked more than 40 – 50 hours per week the gains are negligible and often have a negative effect on their work.

As well as reduced benefits from longer hours, working so much is not good for the long term health of employees who regularly undertake 50 – 60 hour weeks and prolonged exposure to that environment will lead to good employees leaving.

I’ve personally worked in organisations where you were just expected to work long hours as and when requested, often at short notice. On one occasion I received a phone call in the evening at home asking me to come back to the office as I was working with one of the company bosses on a project and he would have preferred me to be there with him. There was a distinctly frosty reaction when I explained that I had plans and couldn’t come back and would see him the next day. As it turned out that was one of the catalysts that started me searching for another role, but I could see other individuals within the organisation consistently obliging and there quickly became two tiers of employees.

The ones who would regularly stay behind and work,were handsomely rewarded with overtime pay and more flexible hours compared to those of us who preferred to go home and see our friends and families who received no such perks. This created division and resentment within the business, which is not good for any organisation.

If you find yourself in the situation of regularly working late, then it’s time to take responsibility and address the issues. Try to organise yourself and projects better to allow more time to complete them, or reduce the amount of work that is taken on so that you can avoid the situation. If you’re not directly responsible for project management

© 2020 Graeme Pirie