According to a report I read this week, we are working about an hour and 12 minutes longer a day than we were 10 years ago. I would add that in the hours we are working that work is more intense. I recall the old days when you would go into a newsroom and it would be fairly noisy. Nowadays you walk through and you can’t hear a sound. Everyone is plugged into some device or other and you feel it is a disturbance to even speak. This is difficult for those who work mainly from home because we just don’t get to speak to anyone face to face that much. When we enter a workplace we are, well certainly in my case, almost bursting with a desire to communicate.
If someone asks me how I am, for instance, I may well give them a 10-minute update. It will, of course, be mainly focused on work [mainly the amount of it], but I have quickly realised that this is often viewed as tantamount to a disturbance of the peace – at least it sometimes feels that way. So instead I go and sit at my hot desk, invariably with a new-fangled ergonomic keyboard or mouse, spend 20 minutes figuring out how it works and think wouldn’t I get more done if I was at home. At home I cram the hours with work and because I like to go to bed on an empty inbox, even if the minute after I close the computer 10 emails come in, I find myself staying up fairly late. By Fridays, I’m lucky if I can last past Eastenders.
I am a bit worried about the future too – and not just in the general global sense either – because I can see that teenagers are going to need to be picked up of a Friday night, late. I would delegate Friday night driving to my partner, but he falls asleep during the news most nights due to the lack of a siesta mid-afternoon – he’s Spanish and has never got over the lack of siesta time in the UK. However, he always wakes up for the weather. He particularly likes it when they say it’s going to be hotter than Ibiza, mainly because he doesn’t believe it.
With the work day getting longer, maybe we should introduce the siesta to the UK workplace and install hammocks. At the moment, though, my siesta time is spent driving around picking people up from school, hearing detailed dissections of each and every secondary school teacher and singing Abba very loudly, particularly the lines “I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay…” I have to say that I am almost excited about the prospect of parents’ evening and meeting the philosophy teacher who plays the Velvet Underground in his class. Daughter one has, however, already banned me from doing anything more than smiling and nodding.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk. Picture credit: Siesta by Hector Garcia courtesy of Wiki Commons.