As people keep talking about the “Christmas break” it made me think how lucky I have been not to have been in occupations defined by work time and non-work time.
Or maybe lucky is not the right word, but it does explain some of the attitudes I have I suppose.
In retirement obviously every day is the same. I used to think it a little odd that my late parents hardly ever knew what day of the week it was.
But now I understand. My dad retired aged 58 and died when he was 90, so he was retired for as long as he had worked. He had a 6 days a week 7am-7pm job.
I don’t recall him working on Bank Holidays or Sundays, because although he spent 40 years working in a shop, in those days they were open on neither. So his retirement years were a release from his 6×7-7 daily routine for 40 years.
Other than my first job, which was strictly 5 days a week, 8am-5pm, all of my jobs since have had no set hours as such. Well they did in my contracts of employment but not in reality.
Working in politics meant always being at work. I can’t think of a single day in 13 years when I wasn’t working at least for part of the day.
My working day never finished before chucking out time in the bars and weekends were the busiest time of the week.
In corporate communications working only for global multinational companies I learned to have no respect for time zones or local holidays. Even when I started work for one in a UK only capacity I used to work on Bank Holidays and weekends.
I remember my CEO at McDonald’s telling me one day that if the restaurants were open for business, then so was I expected to be. Throughout my time at McDonald’s in the UK and then internationally I was always “on call.”
I used to think that journalists intentionally waited until 3am on a Sunday or for a Bank Holiday to call me!
I used to like being in the office on Bank Holidays. It was a great time to get things done, and my daughters who I used to almost always take in with me, now tell me they used to think that those days were big adventures.
Although I’m not sure the members of my team who “volunteered” for child minding duty in the office would have agreed.
This kind of working can lead to misunderstandings. One woman in my McDonald’s UK team on child-minding duty at a weekend was asked by my then 6 year old daughter why she was always in the office when she visited.
She joked that “your dad keeps me locked up in a cupboard and I pop out when you come.”
That night, my daughter told my then wife that “Daddy has a girl locked up in his cupboard!” To which my wife replied that she would not be in the least bit surprised. Thanks Sarah, no wonder you went to live in Australia!
In roles since I haven’t been “on call” other than during crisis management times which obviously are 24/7, but I have always worked internationally.
The significance of this came home to me most when working at Microsoft when I realised that the time difference between HO and me meant that they were starting work when I was supposed to be finishing, so my “day” started all over again to suit theirs!
When working internationally I used to treat pretty much every Sunday as a travelling day because I had to fly somewhere to be there for Monday morning. So even when not working I was travelling.
Of course since the coming of the internet and digital comms the world for corporate communicators has changed even more. Everybody is “always on.” I can’t think of a day of the year or a tiime of the day when I would not expect somebody to read and reply to my email or IM.
I suppose that a way of working that has no respect for hours worked or days spent in the office (or somebody else’s office) or on call, breeds a different attitude to weekends and holidays, now continued by retirement. Every day is always the same.
I think that word lucky was right. I feel lucky never to have worked “hours.”