Friday, January 08, 2016

Here comes the weekend

Back when I was working in the real world--as in outside of academe--large employers were beginning to experiment with staggered work hours in order to test whether that helped their employees with decreased commute times.  If it worked well, then the employees will be more productive, and the staggered hours will also address the congestion issues in the metropolitan area, was the logic.

It can work only if the tasks are such that people do not have to be working at the same time.  However, this is rare--almost always, we seem to need others also to work at the hours when we work, if we want to get the job done.  Which is why with exceptions, offices seem to have similar working hours even now, despite all the technological advancements since those days when I was nothing but a low-paid intern.

If there is a synchronicity that is needed for work time, then how about for free time?
“If I could just get a few more hours off work each week,” you might think, “I would be happier.”
Think about that.  What if you have free time, but your friends and family are at work?  What if you are not a hermit, and you need people's company during your down time?
it’s not just that we have a shortage of free time; it’s also that our free time, in order to be satisfying, often must align with that of our friends and loved ones. We face a problem, in other words, of coordination. Work-life balance is not something that you can solve on your own.
Makes sense, doesn't it?  Suppose you are off work.  The people you like to hang out with are all at work.  You don't even have sports to watch on TV because all those mindless games seem to be scheduled only Friday through Sunday.  This is what happens to the unemployed folks, too:
the jobless showed almost exactly the same day-to-day pattern in emotional well-being as working people did. Their positive emotions soared on the weekend, and dropped back down again on Monday.
Interesting, right?  We sink, or sail, together, it seems:
While the jobless have “free time” during the week, their friends and family still have to go to work. The weekend is when the jobless fall back into sync with society.
The weekend, then, is not just a respite from work, but also gives similar relief from unemployment. It is a time when people can get what they’ve been missing: time together.
This conclusion points to a key feature of the work-life problem: You cannot get more “weekend” simply by taking an extra day off work yourself. If we were to take more time off as individuals, we would be likely to spend that time, as the jobless do, waiting for other people to finish work. We are stuck “at work,” in a sense, by the work schedules of our family and friends.
We humans are complicated ;)


4 comments:

Ramesh said...

All this hullaballoo ?? Simple solution. Retire :)

Ramesh said...

Ad before you pass wisecracks about wealth, remember you are in the top 1% of the world.

Anne in Salem said...

So I'll buy the winning Powerball ticket and give all my family and friends enough money to retire so we all have the same schedule. That will work, right?

Humans are social creatures. Even if we don't need another person to complete a task at work, we need the person to make the task more enjoyable or less of a grudge. Same is true in the off time. Chores at home and fun at home are more enjoyable with company. Even if my friend doesn't touch a single dish, doing dishes is more enjoyable for his company. Social beings.

Sriram Khé said...

Only in the top 1 percent? I deserve to be in the top 0.5 percent at least. No wonder my faculty colleagues are frustrated enough to ask for more ;)

As long as you give me a mere million from the win, I will be more than happy and will retire--and give my colleagues also a break ;)

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