Pandemic Hours

One thing I have noticed since the pandemic began nearly a year ago is the death of the 8 hour workday. Sure, I shouldn’t complain too much, after all, I am still employed even if I am working from home now instead of commuting into an office every day, I am continuing to draw a paycheck, which is more than a lot of people can say.

My company has set up work from home rules around not scheduling meetings before 9 am or after 5 pm, but it seems that hasn’t kept people from sending email, Slack message, or other things at all hours about whatever they’re working on at 8pm on a Saturday.

It used to be, before the smartphone era, that your work stayed at work. Now, however, through our phones, we can still see work related stuff at all hours. Get an email at 10pm on a Friday about a dashboard you built a month ago, you can still see that. Although there is no obligation to respond at 10pm on a Friday, being a good coworker seems to imply that you should at least attempt to.

Back when we were in the office, this would be unheard of. Pretty much everyone was in at 9am and out at or shortly after 5. This was a big thing that drew me to my current company. Now, it’s like people are doing work things at all hours.

In my 20’s, at my prior job, working long hours was kind of a normal thing. I was usually working late hours at the office. Back then, when they first rolled out laptops to all employees, it was labeled as a benefit. Nobody really talked about, ‘oh yeah, you can now work for us at all hours of the day and night’. Once this happened my coworkers began doing a lot of their additional working hours from home, but I always felt that I could get more accomplished in the office building. Even now, in the work from home era, I feel I was still more productive when I was in the office than I am now. Perhaps that is the reason I now feel the need to work additional hours.

Working late hours at my prior job eventually drove me to quit that job. Now, I am certainly not getting any younger, and I feel I am getting too old for this 60 hour a week routine. Is this the future of work, and if so, do I want to be a part of that?

At some point, we will hopefully be returning to the normal routine of working from an office. Hopefully at that point, people will go back to doing work during work hours, and not doing work outside of those hours. Then, this whole work life balance thing will hopefully come back. That day can’t come soon enough.

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