Last week there was a feature on 60 minutes entitled 24/7 detailing the fact American’s work longer hours than literally anyone else in the world. In it, they featured what appeared to be a very successful husband and wife multi-tasking their way to success in their main jobs and side jobs. Further, they featured a successful entrepreneur who point blank said “sure we miss those special moments with the family” like it was as routine as picking up the morning paper.
Each time I watch one of these segments decreeing our ability to go the long haul, I think about a few ironic facts.
#1. Of all the “developed” countries, we are the least productive per hour. [Actually stated on the 60 minute show].
#2. Of all the “developed” countries, we have the highest incidence of stress leave, and litigation around working conditions.
#3. In most regions of the country our economy is in the toilet.
So, my natural inclination is to think, perhaps it’s time to par down how ‘hard’ we work and starting thinking or way’s we can work ‘smart’. And the Nobel Prize goes to……
Let’s rip a page from the Europeans, who for all intensive purposes have a much higher quality of life than we do. Unlike North American’s, they shut down businesses mid day for family and self time – and ironically are more productive / hour than we are.
I think one of the main reasons this phenomena exists is because the simpler way of life doesn’t yield way to the amount of distractions we have here. Organizations scrambling to shut down things like MSN, Facebook etc, may prove that all that long work – is interspersed with all that long play – yet not delineated as such. That’s right, it seems to be wrapped up amongst the work banner. If we were to truly study hours on task vs hour off task, we may get our 64 million dollar answer, but until then, stop telling us we are 24/7 when the undisputed facts support we are not.