40 hour WHAT?

Who is to say 40 hours a week is truly the right number of hours someone should work to pull off work life balance?  I am writing this blog in the midst of working though a 65 hour week and a working through another weekend.  I have a bit of an unconventional opinion on time management.  I, like many new and young aspiring professionals, feel limited by the 40 hour work week where going above and beyond makes you look bad.  Not only do individuals struggle, but “…many employers feel work laws are strangling their ability to be flexible.”

Now consider if all new professionals were limited to a 40 hour work week with 2-4 weeks of vacation (lets assume 2), they would only receive 2000 hours of experience in a year.  Now I work for an organization that lets me have my own “time management” and work life balance.  I am able to achieve the same amount of experience in 8 months (well really 6), be recognized quicker and promoted faster.  I continue to be healthy by eating right and working out, volunteering, and spending quality time with my family.  I don’t waste time watching TV or any other unhealthy “time fillers” just because I am done working.

The war on talent that once was (and then wasn’t during the economic crisis) just a symptom on the bottle neck of how business’s are run.  Many small to medium-sized companies are able to pivot and change faster, not only based on size, but the people who are inside who have an undeniable loyalty to making the business a success.  Consider a large company that has the same loyalty and how they have taken a large part of a market away, for example Microsoft’s competitor:  Apple.


Agata Zasada is a junior HR generalist in a fast-paced company no one in Vancouver ever has heard of, lululemon athletica.  She has three years of experience in HR supplemented by a BBA in HR.  Outside of her love for her career, Agata has been learning to run as well as practicing yoga (mainly Savasana), and is known for her witty humour.

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8 Responses

  1. I think you’ve hit on something important Agata. The focus on time management is really not the right one. Real work-life balance is about managing our energy not so much our time. So, when that energy and passion is flowing, more time might go into one area and less into others. The real secret is choice and choice is about knowing what you as the individual needs to feel good about your life. Great post – keep them coming!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Brad Bengtson, Alan Gee. Alan Gee said: WorkLife 40 hour WHAT? « Fireside HR… For the people, for all things HR http://bit.ly/d3L1lO from RSS […]

  3. Hi Agata,

    Thanks for a fresh perspective on this work/home life question. I’m going to add my ideas on the matter.

    I disagree that # of hours working is necessarily related to company loyalty, or productivity for that matter. There have been quite a few reports over the last couple of years (like this blog from HBR: http://blogs.bnet.com/harvard/?p=3850) that indicate that employees who take time off, in terms of vacation and during the regular work week, are just as if not more productive than those on their blackberrys all night.

  4. Thanks for the insight Agata. It’s very interesting that you are in favour of an un-restricted work week, when lululemon is built on work/life balance.

    I agree that autonomy in the workplace, especially with the upcoming generations and availability of technology, is very important to today’s employee.

    Personally I know that if I opt to take a day off because we received 20cms of snow (I live in Banff), you can bet I’ll take my enthusiasm for my day of skiing back to the office with me, and will work even harder as I know my employer respects me as a person.

    But I do have to admit, I don’t think I could live without some ‘filler’ – Monday night is Bachelorette night you know!

    • First off – I LOVE THE BACHELORETTE!

      As for my opinion, unrestrictions in life to me is a form of balance. I think that the hard lines we draw in the sand are what can cause unbalance. I know for example, I like to take a long lunch some days and really do the fun stuff during the work day. I can do that because I get the work done and have my managers support.

      On the flip side, I work closely with people I respect and who mentor me that are 9 to 5 (per say) because they have kids to pick up, make dinner, go do yoga ect, and I don’t feel they don’t have balance. In fact, they have a different balance. I see the time and time again, that when something changes in life, such as having a child, balance changes. Therefore now when I am unmarried, no children, no mortgage, nothing really holding me down, that I can have balance look different to me.

      Thanks for the reply!
      Agata

  5. Good topic, Agata. In today’s work environment, technology has allowed workers to be flexible with their hours. More and more employees are now able to work remotely. Gone are the days of needing to be at your desk from 9 to 5. In addition, employers are seeing the value of this flexibility – through employee retention, increased engagement, achieving significant company productivity goals, etc. Every individual’s situation is different, and organizations benefit tremendously when they support flexibility!

    • True, I couldn’t agree more about having flexibility as being a benefit. It makes me feel like I have more control over my life (which anyone who knows me well would laugh), and I feel appreciated. Appreciated because I know that my manager, and business partners respect me, my work, my life, and support me with my goals. I completely enjoy my flexibility!

  6. […] know Agata had a few opinions on defining your own work-life balance; she found the 40 hour work week limiting.  My take?  I […]

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