Author Topic: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?  (Read 4809 times)

Abe

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People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« on: January 08, 2019, 10:23:46 PM »
I'm curious to hear from you all if your work eats into the early morning or late evening outside of traditional office hours. If so, what is it, and what are the pressures causing the increased workload? Are you on call for a machine/system that is critical to maintain at all hours (i.e. someone in charge of a nuclear power plant?) Is it because bosses expect you to work on non-critical things that probably can wait until the next day? Are you self-employed and work because there's not enough time in the day? Do you prefer to work non-traditional hours?

The reason I ask is because of the way my field, surgery, is changing. Traditionally surgeons were essentially on call 24/7 for their patients (except vacations, maybe). Now things are moving to a shared call pool wherein a surgeon, but not necessarily the one who did the operation, is available to field emergencies. There's a lot of consternation about this shift, especially with regards to personal responsibility towards patients. Since I have no experience outside of medical fields, I wanted to hear about your experience in your fields. Thanks!


Fomerly known as something

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2019, 05:10:25 AM »
My job has shared after hours response.  It is up to the person who is "on call" to determine if the call is an emergency and needs to be addressed immediately or can wait until "normal business hours."  At least in my experience if it is a problem that needs to be addressed it does not matter the origin of the problem (from something I'm working on, from something a coworker is working on or in my case something new).

mveill1

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2019, 05:32:02 AM »
In my case it's partly from the desire, depending on your position in the company, to be helpful to senior management who work at all hours. They may not expect a response to their 5:30am email, but some people think responding before business open signals their ambition. I personally think in many cases it makes them useful idiots, but I suppose it depends on the particulars of the job.

Another driver is that it's the quid pro quo for flexibility. I don't have office hours, really. People come in any time between 7am and 10am, leave at different times, manage their work loads, can go to dentist appointments without booking time off by simply making up the difference at some other time etc. There are some formal arrangement for flexible work but that is for more extreme cases, or shared jobs, etc. And all are encouraged to work flexibly if they need, like 1-2 days at home a week.

The consequence of that is that you get a lot of people doing things at different times, and there can be a bit of a knock-on impact on everybody. For instance, if someone has arranged to start late on a Wednesday because of volunteering commitments, say, and you ask them to do something for you last minute and it's due on Thursday morning, then you may have to review it Wednesday night....

Steeze

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2019, 05:34:00 AM »
My motivation to work late into the night, early in the morning, or on weekends is driven primarily by my clientís needs and my own desire to earn more for myself and my firm. When I started at this firm a few years ago that was the culture and expectation. These days the owner is no longer participating in that effort and it is a huge turnoff for me. I want to work with people who are motivated to win, to earn, and to grow. If I wanted an easy 9-5 I would work for the city government.

chemistk

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2019, 06:01:44 AM »
I work for a company which manufactures products at all hours of the day, only shutting down the plants for the occasional holiday or issue. My role supports manufacturing but is not directly tied to manufacturing (I work in a facility near the plants that would be considered more of a office/technical facility). If there's an issue at one of the plants, I may be needed for after-hours troubleshooting. Same goes for others in my group - some are needed more often than others as their functions are more critical to approving or rejecting product.

Add to that, the Company is one with international manufacturing locations so there are those locally who may be needed late at night or early AM to help remotely with issues.

Thankfully ours is not a culture where working extra unpaid hours or being available 24/7 is seen as a way to get ahead - most senior leaders respect personal time and (barring a few exceptions) don't favor those who work extra/odd hours nor do they penalize those who turn their phones off after they leave (provided theirs isn't a role that's needed to keep the plants running).

OtherJen

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2019, 06:49:42 AM »
When I was in academic research, a 50+ hour week was expected and 60+ hours was a badge of honor. People who worked 40-hour weeks and/or were involved with their kids or had outside interests were considered not sufficiently devoted and not taken seriously. There was definitely an expectation of all-hours availability.

My postdoc advisor thought nothing of contacting us at 1 am to prepare materials for a lab meeting scheduled for 8 hours later, or of asking me to cancel my properly scheduled and notified Thanksgiving plans to set up a new experiment. She did her rounds of the lab at 6 pm every night and on weekends, and we were expected to be there or have a good excuse. (This was a salaried position at the then-NIH standard of $40k per year.)

My PhD advisor wasn't quite so hardline, but he did expect me to be available at the drop of a hat to analyze data and discuss the week's experiments (often remotely from our homes on Friday nights), and he would very grudgingly allow only one sick day per illness (and required proof that we were working at home while sick). Accordingly, I went into work several times with a fever and obvious upper respiratory symptoms. For both positions, the expectation was that background reading and writing would be done at home during off-lab hours (i.e., beyond the expected 50-hour onsite time).

I no longer work in research after hitting burnout during the postdoc.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 07:15:14 AM by OtherJen »

thd7t

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2019, 06:53:41 AM »
My field (architecture) has a culture of overtime.  It's developed in school and cultivated in the workplace.  Simultaneously, there is very little business training for most people in the field.

I don't think that this benefits projects and I know that it's not good for people personally.  I quit letting my work bleed out of business hours when we had our first child (except in very special circumstances).  The interesting thing is that employers tend to see people who only work in business hours as efficient and value those employees.

JLee

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2019, 06:55:21 AM »
I work in television and that operates 24x7. If something breaks at 2am, it has to get fixed.  If we need to test something, we aim for as much off-peak as we can get (like this morning, 4:30am), so that also occasionally pushes me out of normal business hours.

maizeman

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2019, 07:01:09 AM »
When I was in academic research, a 50+ hour week was expected and 60+ hours was a badge of honor. People who worked 40-hour weeks and/or were involved with their kids or had outside interests were considered not sufficiently devoted and not taken seriously. There was definitely an expectation of all-hours availability.

My postdoc advisor thought nothing of contacting us at 1 am to prepare materials for a lab meeting scheduled for 8 hours late, or of asking me to cancel my properly scheduled and notified Thanksgiving plans to set up a new experiment. She did her rounds of the lab at 6 pm every night and on weekends, and we were expected to be there or have a good excuse. (This was a salaried position at the then-NIH standard of $40k per year.)

My PhD advisor wasn't quite so hardline, but he did expect me to be available at the drop of a hat to analyze data and discuss the week's experiments (often remotely from our homes on Friday nights), and he would very grudgingly allow only one sick day per illness (and required proof that we were working at home while sick). Accordingly, I went into work several times with a fever and obvious upper respiratory symptoms. For both positions, the expectation was that background reading and writing would be done at home during off-lab hours (i.e., beyond the expected 50-hour onsite time).

I no longer work in research after hitting burnout during the postdoc.

Also in academia. My work bleeds into every hour of my life because both I and the folks in my lab are in a constant competition with other people in the same field for the same pots of money. Since there are many more people than there are available grants/faculty positions/industry positions/etc we'd all be better off if everyone worked only a reasonable amount, but anyone who is willing to put in little extra time/effort gains a competitive advantage over everyone else and the only way for the rest of us to catch up is to also work longer/harder and before you know it you end up with terrible work life balance and a field most reasonable people would never want to go into in the first place.

A student was still messaging me on slack at midnight last night about updates to his poster. I said it was good enough and he should really go home and eat something/get some sleep. Up at 6:30 and found more slack messages from 2 AM-5 AM asking me to look over more new figures from new analyses that night before posters gets sent to printing at 9 AM this morning.

OtherJen

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2019, 07:11:31 AM »
When I was in academic research, a 50+ hour week was expected and 60+ hours was a badge of honor. People who worked 40-hour weeks and/or were involved with their kids or had outside interests were considered not sufficiently devoted and not taken seriously. There was definitely an expectation of all-hours availability.

My postdoc advisor thought nothing of contacting us at 1 am to prepare materials for a lab meeting scheduled for 8 hours late, or of asking me to cancel my properly scheduled and notified Thanksgiving plans to set up a new experiment. She did her rounds of the lab at 6 pm every night and on weekends, and we were expected to be there or have a good excuse. (This was a salaried position at the then-NIH standard of $40k per year.)

My PhD advisor wasn't quite so hardline, but he did expect me to be available at the drop of a hat to analyze data and discuss the week's experiments (often remotely from our homes on Friday nights), and he would very grudgingly allow only one sick day per illness (and required proof that we were working at home while sick). Accordingly, I went into work several times with a fever and obvious upper respiratory symptoms. For both positions, the expectation was that background reading and writing would be done at home during off-lab hours (i.e., beyond the expected 50-hour onsite time).

I no longer work in research after hitting burnout during the postdoc.

Also in academia. My work bleeds into every hour of my life because both I and the folks in my lab are in a constant competition with other people in the same field for the same pots of money. Since there are many more people than there are available grants/faculty positions/industry positions/etc we'd all be better off if everyone worked only a reasonable amount, but anyone who is willing to put in little extra time/effort gains a competitive advantage over everyone else and the only way for the rest of us to catch up is to also work longer/harder and before you know it you end up with terrible work life balance and a field most reasonable people would never want to go into in the first place.

A student was still messaging me on slack at midnight last night about updates to his poster. I said it was good enough and he should really go home and eat something/get some sleep. Up at 6:30 and found more slack messages from 2 AM-5 AM asking me to look over more new figures from new analyses that night before posters gets sent to printing at 9 AM this morning.

Yes. I think what triggered the burnout (beyond exhaustion) was the realization that this would be my life; if I were one of the lucky 1% to get a tenure-track position, the pay would start to improve but nothing else would. I knew several tenure-track professors. The publish-or-perish stress level was insane. The one across the hall from my grad lab worked herself ragged (was hospitalized for stress at one point), while various men in the department made fun of her.

maizeman

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2019, 07:16:59 AM »
There's an article on overlaps between the stereotypes assigned to millennials and the symptoms of burn out which has been circulating heavily through my particular corner of academia. People of all generations are talking about being uncomfortable with how much of themselves they recognize from the descriptions.

I think maybe I said the same thing in some other thread a while ago where the same topic came up, but congrats on recognizing that and successfully getting out!

MonkeyJenga

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2019, 07:19:28 AM »
I worked on a few high profile campaigns this year. Political campaigns don't have nights off, or weekends. And nobody wants to push back on unreasonable demands because they CARE.

Post eday, things a lot calmer, and I'm setting my official hours at 11-7 because I don't like mornings.

OtherJen

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2019, 07:26:48 AM »
There's an article on overlaps between the stereotypes assigned to millennials and the symptoms of burn out which has been circulating heavily through my particular corner of academia. People of all generations are talking about being uncomfortable with how much of themselves they recognize from the descriptions.

I think maybe I said the same thing in some other thread a while ago where the same topic came up, but congrats on recognizing that and successfully getting out!

Thanks. Iím not a millennial, but I am very interested in that article. I was several years older than the rest of my grad program entrance year cohort. None of are working in academic research. Most (at least 75%) of my friends from grad school (biomed at a top 10 university med school) have left academia. The culture is so incredibly toxic that traditional research venues are losing an entire generation of talented and highly trained scientists.

madgeylou

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2019, 07:29:24 AM »
I normally have pretty good work boundaries ... but my team and customers are all over the world, so sometimes I have to get on early morning or late night calls. I get a lot of flexibility in return, but I really do hate pre-dawn conference calls.

Sibley

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2019, 07:30:39 AM »
Auditor. If I have deadlines, the work has to get done, and it's not like I can siphon the knowledge out of my brain to someone else. Particularly at lower levels, it is very much plug and play, but I'm not a grunt anymore. I'm managing the audit, making decisions, etc. And there are very real consequences of my work sometimes.

Case in point: I estimate there's an 80% chance that a particular senior executive is going to be fired this year, in part of due to my work which highlighted their repeated failures. There was an executive who was fired 2 years ago because of my work. If people's jobs are on the line, my work HAS to be right. I couldn't live with it otherwise. If I need to stay late to make sure it's right, then I stay late.

maizeman

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2019, 07:37:31 AM »
Thanks. Iím not a millennial, but I am very interested in that article. I was several years older than the rest of my grad program entrance year cohort.

"Still, thousands of PhD students clung to the idea of a tenure-track professorship. And the tighter the academic market became, the harder we worked. We didnít try to break the system, since thatís not how weíd been raised. We tried to win it. ... We were problem solvers, after all ó and taught that if we just worked harder, it would work out."

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/millennials-burnout-generation-debt-work

Quote
None of are working in academic research. Most (at least 75%) of my friends from grad school (biomed at a top 10 university med school) have left academia. The culture is so incredibly toxic that traditional research venues are losing an entire generation of talented and highly trained scientists.

Of the sixteen students in my graduate cohort, also at a top school in my field*, two of us are in faculty positions (one at a PUA PUI which is mostly teaching and only a little research), a two married much higher earning spouses and are in career postdoc/staff scientist type positions, but at least 2/3s are entirely out of academia and more than half not doing anything at all connected to research.

*Top 8? 3? 12? depends on exactly how I define my field and what list I use.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 07:49:37 AM by maizeman »

ROF Expat

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2019, 07:58:27 AM »
Embassies typically have a Marine to answer emergency calls 24/7/365.  If the call is an emergency or requires action, it typically gets routed to a duty officer who either acts or forwards it to the appropriate person for action.  American citizens who have accidents, get arrested, pass away while overseas, don't just have these problems during office hours. Add in terrorist threats, bomb scares, conflict, humanitarian crises, and issues from either our own government (where there may be a time difference) or the host government, and you get a lot of after hours calls.  And that's in a regular Embassy.  In a crisis or war zone, work can be long hours seven days a week. 

Only a few technical staff regularly get overtime, so for everyone else it is after hours work without compensation.  Most people stop what they're doing and do the extra work without much more than good natured grumbling.  Most people working in an Embassy didn't sign up because the pay is great, but because they want to do important work and serve their country (and see the world).  It helps that they can often see the importance and immediate impact of their work.  Sometimes American citizens even say thank you.  It can be disheartening to have to do it without pay during a shutdown or to have to listen to people lecture you about "lazy government employees" though. 

verfrugal

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2019, 07:58:52 AM »
Responsibility to my team is how I rationalize it.  My software engineering team is remote and spread across two continents, and our product "integrates" with all of the other products in our large portfolio and that means I work with teams across the globe.  Then there is the field, which is global as well and asking questions and seeking guidance on deploying at all hours.  I'm the principal engineer on the project, as well as the one managing much of the details and daily work.

But we all know rationalizations are seldom the whole truth.

The team is a big part of it, for sure.  I like building teams, growing them, coordinating them, and watching people grow.  It's way more interesting than the engineering.  My ego likes the feeling of being the leader, and having built something that is valuable and also changing the organization around me.

But there is a darker aspect to it.  It's a stress response.  I throw myself into my work whenever I am stressed or anxious about other things.  Work harder means more rewards, which will be resources I can use to deal with whatever problem I am facing.  Of course, the ego seldom understands problems that cannot be solved by more resources.  I define myself by my work, and thus when threatened, I strengthen my self by working more, by getting upset at those who dare to get in my way and telling great big important stories about myself that justify my being stressed and taking it out on others.

I do try and regulate it, but it's difficult since I work from home, and I'm far from consistent.  I often think that writing is the way out of this problem.  So much of my obsession is because of how much I need to hold in my head at once.  I think that getting better at writing and sharing things, documenting details, would help get it out of my head and give me more room for other things there.  I know that when I do get a large problem written up and documented, I feel way better.

Dicey

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2019, 08:15:29 AM »
This is what fueled my passionate quest for FIRE. I finished six years ago. It has only gotten worse since.

My career was in sales, much of it as a Manufacturer's Rep. The companies were based on the East Coast, and my last name is at the beginning of the alphabet.  It was common in the days of faxes to get one at 5:08 in the morning my time. Very common. Of course the ringer was turned off, but the damn machine still made noise. Phone calls from Customer Service were also frequent. I always thought they did it spitefully, to make sure those lazy West Coast people were working. Conference calls often started at 8:00 East Coast time,  9:00 if we were "lucky". We were always expected to be in our accounts between 8-5 in our own time zone, without regard for travel time or the fact that many of them didn't open until 9 or even 10, and the early morning hours were dedicated to getting jobs out. Oh, and presentation and call prep had to happen before 8 and after 5. So did travel to/from your home office. Toward the end, they issued ipads which had to be synced every morning by 6:30 at the latest. Those little fuckers could "see" where you were with hideous accuracy 24/7. They were the last straw, so perhaps should be grateful they were introduced,

My boss and customers were on the West Coast, so no, the day did not end when the mill offices closed. The absolute worst was the meetings. I'd fly east across the country on a Sunday, get in late, because of course, they booked the travel, so we couldn't choose the flights or get the miles. Then there would be a 7:00 am breakfast meeting. It was also understood that if you were a "go-getter", they would see you working out in the hotel gym before breakfast. Ugh. Talk about jet lag! The return trips were no better. Get home late, exhausted, only to find some asshat had scheduled an 8:00 am cobference call the next day. It hurts just to type this.

Recently, I called a former colleague at 6:15 pm, expecting to leave a message. I was surprised when he picked up. He informed me that customers expect an immediate response virtually around the clock these days. They'll send a text at all hours, then complain to your boss if you don't return their call promptly.

It's funny that you're the one posing the question,  @Abe, because I was in the flooring business.  My stock reply to ridiculously unreasonable time demands was, "Hey we're not doing brain surgery or curing cancer here. No one's going to die. That's why I didn't go to medical school." It usually made people laugh, until the very next time they had an urgent "need". Ugh.

This is why the model of huge HMO's like Kaiser is popular, especially for parents of young children. Do your job, work hard for X amount of hours, get paid reasonably well, then go home and forget about it.

StarBright

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2019, 08:25:44 AM »

"Still, thousands of PhD students clung to the idea of a tenure-track professorship. And the tighter the academic market became, the harder we worked. We didnít try to break the system, since thatís not how weíd been raised. We tried to win it. ... We were problem solvers, after all ó and taught that if we just worked harder, it would work out."

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/millennials-burnout-generation-debt-work


My husband is an academic and that is exactly the sentence that stood out to both us.

He's been in full time lecturer positions for the last four years, teaching an insane course load (5-1-4), and still managed to publish once a year, has a book contract, presents at major conferences 2-3 times a year, and has created a niche in public academia for himself by writing for major public facing publications and occasionally being interviewed for segments on NPR and similar. He has three on-site interviews coming up this month for a TT job but there is no guarantee that he will be getting one. He was asking me last night what else I thought he could do to stand out and I honestly can not think of a single thing. 

He is still trying to win by working the hardest (and he is the best! - but he might not have a job next year:)) 12 years ago he would have been a no brainer for a TT job. In his program 100% of the 2007 and 2008 cohorts got TT jobs. He started his program in 2009 after losing his finance job and 3/4 of his cohort ended up in full time work which is still well above average for his field,  but only 2/8 are currently TT.

So yeah - DH works a million hours a week and is an academic. I also work outside of regular office hours because I managed to retain my well paying job to work remotely so we could follow DH around. I am available whenever my boss reaches out to me because I want to keep my job as long as  I need it (I'm also in a specialized field so can't just quit and find a similar job tomorrow).

SnackDog

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2019, 08:34:50 AM »
This behavior is normally caused by some combination of 1) operational requirements, 2) supervisor behavior/impatience and 3) personal drive.   I have seen all three in my career.  For a few years I ran a 24/7 operation and was on call at all times.  Later I had a supervisor who expected answers to questions and analysis on evenings and weekends.  He also liked to call late meetings, like 7pm.  When I was younger, I felt a drive to work late and on weekends that I guess was just left over from graduate school when I worked 80 hour weeks.

EvenSteven

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2019, 08:41:30 AM »
Wife and I both work for a non-profit, non-academic, non-governmental biological research organization. The most common reason for work outside of "office hours" these days are due to grant deadlines or regulatory approval deadlines.

Wife deals a lot more with grant deadlines. Used to be paper submissions as a grad student/post-doc, but that is more relaxed now and has shifted to grant writing as a PI.

Right now I'm working with agricultural regulatory approval across multiple countries involving multiple institutions. I'm OK with it because I agree with the charitable mission, and the work will improve the lives of those struggling to get enough to eat in developing countries.

Arbitrage

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2019, 08:51:32 AM »
I work on launch vehicles (rockets).  In my current position, that generally means the crazy hours are only expected in the ~1 month preceding a launch (not necessarily the whole month, but during that month).  You're expected to do everything you can to make that launch a success, and delaying because we were unwilling to work longer hours is not acceptable.

In a previous position, I worked with - not for - a company whose leader is infamous for demanding extremely long hours from his employees.  Even though I did not work for him, keeping up with the pace of that company demanded very long hours and 24-hour awareness of work, even when we weren't preparing for a launch.  The stress of that was part of the reason I transferred out of that position.

MayDay

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2019, 09:05:56 AM »
I have a family friend who is a pediatrician and close to retirement (between age 60-65). His hospital and clinic just moved from twice weekly call for a smaller number of patients (just that clinic's peds patients) to monthly call where he stays at the hospital and typically is busy all night.

He hates it and complains endlessly. As a younger person I can't imagine being on call twice a week, even if I only got phone calls or called in once or twice. All the younger docs love the new system and the older ones hate it. His own kid did a second ER residency after his peds residency because he didn't want to work all day plus have call time.

As a patient of course I like seeing my own doctor, but I also want a well rested doctor who isn't burnt out and doesn't make mistakes.

dude

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2019, 09:23:05 AM »
I'm curious to hear from you all if your work eats into the early morning or late evening outside of traditional office hours. If so, what is it, and what are the pressures causing the increased workload? Are you on call for a machine/system that is critical to maintain at all hours (i.e. someone in charge of a nuclear power plant?) Is it because bosses expect you to work on non-critical things that probably can wait until the next day? Are you self-employed and work because there's not enough time in the day? Do you prefer to work non-traditional hours?

The reason I ask is because of the way my field, surgery, is changing. Traditionally surgeons were essentially on call 24/7 for their patients (except vacations, maybe). Now things are moving to a shared call pool wherein a surgeon, but not necessarily the one who did the operation, is available to field emergencies. There's a lot of consternation about this shift, especially with regards to personal responsibility towards patients. Since I have no experience outside of medical fields, I wanted to hear about your experience in your fields. Thanks!

My wife's job does -- a LOT. She has to be available even on vacations. She's always checking e-mails and making calls when we're away. Thing is, she's not as offended by the requirement as I am, and doesn't seem to mind too much. On the plus side, she just got a 25% raise.

LPG

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2019, 09:39:01 AM »
I can't quite chime in saying why I do it, because I refuse to do it. But I can talk a bit about the cultural expectations and pressure around it.

I joined a small, easy going company specifically for the laid back culture. It wasn't as enthusiastic as I'd like (I'm the type who wants to take on new challenges, learn more, earn more, etc), but the expectations were low, the relationship between engineers and management was congenial, the work environment was flexible, etc. It seemed like a great way to get into a spot where I could take initiative to bring about projects I wanted, and find some direction for myself. Since expectations were low, I didn't feel much pressure to work beyond 40 hr/wk. The only sticking point was when they wanted me to start sharing my cell phone number so people could use it to contact me about work. I told them I'd happily start doing that when the company started paying for my cell phone. Since they declined, so did I. Not too much tension, really.

Well, the company quickly sold. I should have seen it coming, to be honest. The former owner is in his 70s, the upper managers are in their 60s, etc. Missed that obvious one. And props to the owners, they took pains to sell to a company that promised to keep the culture the same as it was. Unfortunately, that was an outright lie. The expectation is that people will now work on billable projects 40 hours/wk, then take part in 5 hr/wk of staff meetings, do 5 hr/wk of miscellaneous overhead tasks (Safety "trainings", etc), and do unbilled business development. The President is actually on record stating that people should be billable full time during the work week, and spend our evenings and weekends doing business development. Which originally sounded interesting to me, as I mentioned earlier that the laid back culture of the original company didn't mesh well with my ambitions. Work more, produce more, learn more, grow more, earn more? Yeah, sounds good. Unfortunately, those expectations are also coupled with a company wide cap of 3% raises each year (Which basically means top performers will match inflation), and promotions no more often than every 3 years. Soo...work more, produce more, hope to keep up with inflation?

Yeah, I've flat out told my boss I won't work one minute of overtime so long as the company is structured the way it is. If the company insists on giving me the bare minimum no matter how much I produce, then I'll return the favor by producing the bare minimum (Didn't directly say that part!). He seems to agree.

Eric

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2019, 09:47:34 AM »
I'm curious to hear from you all if your work eats into the early morning or late evening outside of traditional office hours. If so, what is it, and what are the pressures causing the increased workload? Are you on call for a machine/system that is critical to maintain at all hours (i.e. someone in charge of a nuclear power plant?) Is it because bosses expect you to work on non-critical things that probably can wait until the next day? Are you self-employed and work because there's not enough time in the day? Do you prefer to work non-traditional hours?

The reason I ask is because of the way my field, surgery, is changing. Traditionally surgeons were essentially on call 24/7 for their patients (except vacations, maybe). Now things are moving to a shared call pool wherein a surgeon, but not necessarily the one who did the operation, is available to field emergencies. There's a lot of consternation about this shift, especially with regards to personal responsibility towards patients. Since I have no experience outside of medical fields, I wanted to hear about your experience in your fields. Thanks!

My wife's job does -- a LOT. She has to be available even on vacations. She's always checking e-mails and making calls when we're away. Thing is, she's not as offended by the requirement as I am, and doesn't seem to mind too much. On the plus side, she just got a 25% raise.

Same here.  Or maybe she doesn't have to be available, but still feels like she should be.  I think it's the fact that she's going to get 462 emails over the next 24 hours, so it's just easy to deal with them constantly rather than let them pile up.  I also feel like she shouldn't be checking her email all the time, but it doesn't seem to bother her either.

partdopy

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2019, 10:25:52 AM »
I'm a cloud systems engineer so I support critical systems.

We have an on call rotation composed of the other engineers and systems admins.  As an engineer I have better knowledge of the systems and business processes/ criticality than admins, so I typically try to be loosely available 24/7 unless out of cell range or on vacation.

mm1970

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2019, 10:33:27 AM »
I'm in semiconductors.  It used to be that I was managing the 24/7 engineers and technicians who kept the fab running. 

Now, though - my company and our customers are all over the globe.  We have regular telecons with both Asia and Europe (from California).

I don't let work bleed into off hours much, simply because I can't.  I have 2 kids, and I'm exhausted.  Occasionally I work from home on the weekend to get caught up.  My spouse is much more likely to work at home nights, or go back to work, or work weekends because of the current workload.   Paid overtime though, so there's a silver lining to all that.

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2019, 10:34:52 AM »
My work runs on a 24 hour shift 6 days a week and engineers are assigned to specific products.  If my product is running at 2am and shits the bed, then I get a phone call to come in and fix it.  Generally I get comp time for this.  I also run a lot of samples, and samples can run anytime in a 12 hour window.  Sometimes that means I come in early or stay late to finish. 

I think that we could definitely structure things to run in ways that would make it easier on the engineering staff, but the company culture is heavily entrenched, and for an underling to even suggest such a thing would mean that they would be ostracized as not willing to sacrifice for the company.  ON the bright side, the compensation and benefits are excellent, and they do promote and give extra bonuses for effort.

mm1970

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #30 on: January 09, 2019, 10:42:08 AM »
Quote
Yes. I think what triggered the burnout (beyond exhaustion) was the realization that this would be my life; if I were one of the lucky 1% to get a tenure-track position, the pay would start to improve but nothing else would. I knew several tenure-track professors. The publish-or-perish stress level was insane. The one across the hall from my grad lab worked herself ragged (was hospitalized for stress at one point), while various men in the department made fun of her.

I only have a few friends in academia.  There's probably more than one reason why female professors are less likely to be parents.

One of my friends had tenure at a very highly rated private university (top 5) and left for a tenured professor at a State U.  Looking for a more "collaborative" environment.  Still we have a hard time keeping in touch (she lives near me now!) - and it's equally my schedule with FT job/ 2 kids and her schedule of travel/ teaching/ research/ starting a new lab.

Chris22

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #31 on: January 09, 2019, 11:32:46 AM »
I work in corporate finance for a megacorp (F100).  My role is the head of the FP&A team, meaning I prepare all of the presentations and documentation for the executive team of our local business (~$3B) to present to their bosses.  About 50% of the time, we're in the middle of the month and it's just day to day strain, ~50ish hours are normal.  Sometimes, we're staring down a hard deadline, like we are this week with a major presentation to a board member next week, and the work has to get done.  The flip side is, because we're a huge megacorp, we have processes, and I can't always short cut those processes (as in, other people do things that I can't rush).  So I get squeezed.  Our quarter-ending numbers are final at the EOD Friday; our presentation is due before then.  So I get to manually create everything to meet the deadline.

The other factor is that we (and everyone else) are shorthanded, at least 2 open positions on my team with no real visibility to replacing them anytime soon.  Again, the survivors get squeezed.

Sucks, but such is life.  I'm currently up for a promotion which would be a major title jump as well as probably a ~25% raise.  If that doesn't come through, I'll be seeing myself somewhere else.   

chemistk

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #32 on: January 10, 2019, 06:19:42 AM »
Thanks. Iím not a millennial, but I am very interested in that article. I was several years older than the rest of my grad program entrance year cohort.

"Still, thousands of PhD students clung to the idea of a tenure-track professorship. And the tighter the academic market became, the harder we worked. We didnít try to break the system, since thatís not how weíd been raised. We tried to win it. ... We were problem solvers, after all ó and taught that if we just worked harder, it would work out."

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/millennials-burnout-generation-debt-work


I felt sick reading that article and I feel sick reading this thread. Compared to most here, I have a very reasonable balance. At times I think I could/should be pushed more but reading through what others are expected to do immediately halts that thought process.

StarBright

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #33 on: January 10, 2019, 07:39:37 AM »
I'm curious to hear from you all if your work eats into the early morning or late evening outside of traditional office hours. If so, what is it, and what are the pressures causing the increased workload? Are you on call for a machine/system that is critical to maintain at all hours (i.e. someone in charge of a nuclear power plant?) Is it because bosses expect you to work on non-critical things that probably can wait until the next day? Are you self-employed and work because there's not enough time in the day? Do you prefer to work non-traditional hours?

The reason I ask is because of the way my field, surgery, is changing. Traditionally surgeons were essentially on call 24/7 for their patients (except vacations, maybe). Now things are moving to a shared call pool wherein a surgeon, but not necessarily the one who did the operation, is available to field emergencies. There's a lot of consternation about this shift, especially with regards to personal responsibility towards patients. Since I have no experience outside of medical fields, I wanted to hear about your experience in your fields. Thanks!

My wife's job does -- a LOT. She has to be available even on vacations. She's always checking e-mails and making calls when we're away. Thing is, she's not as offended by the requirement as I am, and doesn't seem to mind too much. On the plus side, she just got a 25% raise.

Same here.  Or maybe she doesn't have to be available, but still feels like she should be.  I think it's the fact that she's going to get 462 emails over the next 24 hours, so it's just easy to deal with them constantly rather than let them pile up.  I also feel like she shouldn't be checking her email all the time, but it doesn't seem to bother her either.

^ this is how I feel about my job. I do have to check my email/slack in case my boss has emergencies and he always has at least one a day when I'm out. But I also end up spending some time on non emergency work every day too. It drives my DH nuts but there is no one to cover my work when I'm out, which just means that I have double the work after time off. I am less stressed if I tackle the easy stuff when on vacation. To me, it defeats the point of time off if I'm running double time when I get back.

dignam

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #34 on: January 10, 2019, 07:40:19 AM »
I work in a more lead/senior role in our IT department.  If we lose a production server or database in the middle of the night, I am expected to help fix it (with one or two others).  All three of us are "on call" so to speak. 

True emergencies rarely happen (maybe once a year max), and are generally during business hours anyway as that is when system load is highest.  I do pitch in after hours (talking 30 minutes here and there) with system related items that development teams need. 

I don't actually mind it at all.  I'm given a lot of flexibility as to when I can take time off/work my hours.  Plus the work itself can be fun.

Unique User

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #35 on: January 10, 2019, 08:17:59 AM »
^ this is how I feel about my job. I do have to check my email/slack in case my boss has emergencies and he always has at least one a day when I'm out. But I also end up spending some time on non emergency work every day too. It drives my DH nuts but there is no one to cover my work when I'm out, which just means that I have double the work after time off. I am less stressed if I tackle the easy stuff when on vacation. To me, it defeats the point of time off if I'm running double time when I get back.

I work in mgmt consulting and am pretty much in the same boat.  I'm a manager and individual contributor, sometimes it's just easier to check emails when I'm supposed to be out.  On a daily basis, I'm remote and my team in is all four US time zones as well as India, so calls bleed into what are technically supposed to be non-working hours pretty regularly.  I love working remotely so I view it as the trade off to not have to commute and go into an office. 

Bracken_Joy

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #36 on: January 10, 2019, 08:28:25 AM »
This thread is very timely. Husband had to take a call at 8pm, shortly before we went to bed. He missed a call at 10:30pm because his phone was on silent. (Not a 'real' emergency time, he doesn't need to be available). And then when we woke up at 6:30, he had a missed call from 6am. This is slightly more than usual, but I'd say this sort of thing happens at least once a week.

Consulting engineer for big industrial clients. Sometimes, there are very real emergency times he needs to be available. Oftentimes, it's manufactured panic because clients hire young engineers, give them big projects without any guidance, and like to hang the blame on them if anything goes wrong. It makes for a lot of all hours BS. That being said, part of being a consultant is dealing with all hours BS.

At least since he's a consultant he charges hourly. But yeah, there's a reason we decided our "theme" for 2019 is "boundaries".

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #37 on: January 10, 2019, 08:36:40 AM »
I'm an IT manager, and very often we need to do updates/changes after hours or over the weekend; it's the nature of the job.  Luckily, it can often be done remotely while drinking tea in a comfy chair.

But unless there's a fire or specifically planned work, I'm out the door at between 5:00 and 5:01 every day.

fattest_foot

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #38 on: January 10, 2019, 09:10:27 AM »
I think this is probably the biggest positive for my current career (Federal government). I work my 40 hours and that's it.

I do have coworkers who get here earlier than I do and leave after I do. I constantly question them about why they do it, and while they admit there's no good reason to take on the burden of solving every made up crisis, they continue to do it.

Luck12

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #39 on: January 10, 2019, 09:11:32 AM »
The few times I've had to work outside of office hours was because the boss didn't know how to say no to a client or because someone recently got laid off (IMO so that upper management could get higher bonuses) but some work still "needed" to be done. 

Let's face it, a lot of office work is bullshit and the workplace is full of fake deadlines to appease some asshole boss or client.  People don't say no to unreasonable requests because they're scared/don't have FU money.  Once I got FU money, I stopped giving a fuck and haven't worked outside 9-5 since. 

Luck12

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #40 on: January 10, 2019, 09:13:10 AM »

I do have coworkers who get here earlier than I do and leave after I do. I constantly question them about why they do it, and while they admit there's no good reason to take on the burden of solving every made up crisis, they continue to do it.

I don't like when coworkers do that.  Management sees that and expects that to be the norm. 

2Birds1Stone

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #41 on: January 10, 2019, 09:17:52 AM »
@Dicey summed up my life pretty well.

I'm traveling by train/air/car ~20-30 hours a week. Answering emails at 7 AM or 9 PM, and getting on conference calls with different time zones regularly. I also have to travel on Sunday afternoon/evenings, and often get home after midnights on Fridays.

As a result, I also try to make up for it during normal business hours when I "wfh", but if I had to guess, in 2018 I averaged ~60-70 hours a week with commute/travel time. A goal for 2019 is to get that to <50.

bbates728

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #42 on: January 10, 2019, 09:51:39 AM »
I am not sure if you all truly understand how important an accountant/analyst/auditor role is. I am talking life or death of the company kind of important. I work at a F100 company as an analyst and my work is seen and reported by the top of the company out to shareholders and used in bonus payouts for the whole company. If I am not available at all times or answer SR MGMT questions immediately, the whole company grinds to a halt. If my work is incorrect, people get laid off. If my work is delayed, our company no longer makes money and people get laid off. If SR MGMT doesn't have complete access to my wealth of knowledge in seconds... whew boy, I am not sure how our products will be made. I am dead serious.

It is an honor to work in such a company as this and I don't take it lightly. You know people say that accounting isn't life and death, like say medical "professionals", but I remember seeing a lot of death and destruction during the '08 collapse and the Great Depression. I combat those crises before they begin every day and night by giving 110%. I am a defender of the capital markets and a creator of wealth. I can't take weekends off because people depend on me.



LOL jk. Though this is definitely the narrative pushed by middle management. While there is no such thing as an "Accounting Emergency", any little request or benign question causes huge blow ups in our group. Heck, look at the response above from an auditor to see this mindset in the wild. I used to work 60-80 hour weeks until I realized that I wasn't actually adding value and that the company was intentionally understaffed to cut costs. I left that job and took one where I could set better boundaries.

It is interesting to read so many replies in this thread from people in tons of different professions that echo this belief that their role is critical to operations and that they NEED to be available 24/7. I have had to build boundaries so that I don't come back from vacation with twice the workload piled up. Something has to give in Corporate America.

Dicey

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #43 on: January 10, 2019, 09:56:38 AM »
@Dicey summed up my life pretty well.

I'm traveling by train/air/car ~20-30 hours a week. Answering emails at 7 AM or 9 PM, and getting on conference calls with different time zones regularly. I also have to travel on Sunday afternoon/evenings, and often get home after midnights on Fridays.

As a result, I also try to make up for it during normal business hours when I "wfh", but if I had to guess, in 2018 I averaged ~60-70 hours a week with commute/travel time. A goal for 2019 is to get that to <50.
Hey, 2B1S. Yeah, it doesn't matter what you're selling. And they never give you credit for travel time either, do they? In fact, I used to say, "Same shit, different name on the paycheck." However, in sales, there is typically a direct correlation between effort and results. Under your circumstances, I'd really consider keeping the pedal to the metal in 2019. Why? You've got your Get Out of Jail Free Escape locked and loaded. Why not just decide to sell the shit out of it this year and make as much money as you can for twelve months? More money = more freedom. Honestly, I couldn't do it endlessly, but with a goal like yours, I sure could for the next 50 weeks.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #44 on: January 10, 2019, 11:06:38 AM »
@Dicey, I plan on it! But I'm trying to enjoy some semblance of having a life and physical outdoor activity during the nicer months. Just simply showing up will add $5k/month to the stache.

Elle 8

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #45 on: January 10, 2019, 11:16:05 AM »
Haha, bbates728, you had me there for a minute!

Apple_Tango

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #46 on: January 10, 2019, 11:30:42 AM »
Iím an entry level person who works about 40 hours per week. Some days itís 12-16 hours and some days itís 2, but it about balances out. I make my own schedule and work partially from home. Sounds great, right? Itís not bad! The only problem is the low pay (entry level, but I can deal with it) and the fact that my supervisor goes on and on and on about how good overtime looks and that I need to be trying to make as much money as possible to get a promotion ASAP. The only difference between my job and the next level up (besides increase in pay) is an expectation to have more output. But I already work a true 40 hours per week so Iím not sure how I could handle that increase in output without an increase in working hours.  besides lying on my timecard. And I refuse to do that.

Iíve signed a new offer letter for a different role in the company for double my current salary. job starts in july. Itís a 9-5 Office job where it is physically impossible to take work home because itís in a vault and documents canít leave the vault. Iím so excited!!!

Meanwhile, in my current role I am trying hard not to be promoted. To be more stressed, more pressure to work overtime and on weekends for about $15,000 more? Nah. No thanks. Iíll stick with my ďentry levelĒ job until July. Just canít let my manager know that I donít want a promotion- that doesnít ďlook goodĒ. Or whatever.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 11:32:31 AM by Apple_Tango »

tozier

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #47 on: January 10, 2019, 11:49:49 AM »
Iím a tax manager, no one else knows how to do my job, and hiring someone to help me meet deadlines has never been a priority at the company I work for, perhaps due to todayís corporate environment. Many of us in the office are specialized, with no one else to share the skill set.

Itís taken me years to get 90% of my job down to an 8-5 job, but that last 10% wonít budge.

Sibley

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #48 on: January 10, 2019, 12:54:40 PM »
I am not sure if you all truly understand how important an accountant/analyst/auditor role is. I am talking life or death of the company kind of important. I work at a F100 company as an analyst and my work is seen and reported by the top of the company out to shareholders and used in bonus payouts for the whole company. If I am not available at all times or answer SR MGMT questions immediately, the whole company grinds to a halt. If my work is incorrect, people get laid off. If my work is delayed, our company no longer makes money and people get laid off. If SR MGMT doesn't have complete access to my wealth of knowledge in seconds... whew boy, I am not sure how our products will be made. I am dead serious.

It is an honor to work in such a company as this and I don't take it lightly. You know people say that accounting isn't life and death, like say medical "professionals", but I remember seeing a lot of death and destruction during the '08 collapse and the Great Depression. I combat those crises before they begin every day and night by giving 110%. I am a defender of the capital markets and a creator of wealth. I can't take weekends off because people depend on me.



LOL jk. Though this is definitely the narrative pushed by middle management. While there is no such thing as an "Accounting Emergency", any little request or benign question causes huge blow ups in our group. Heck, look at the response above from an auditor to see this mindset in the wild. I used to work 60-80 hour weeks until I realized that I wasn't actually adding value and that the company was intentionally understaffed to cut costs. I left that job and took one where I could set better boundaries.

It is interesting to read so many replies in this thread from people in tons of different professions that echo this belief that their role is critical to operations and that they NEED to be available 24/7. I have had to build boundaries so that I don't come back from vacation with twice the workload piled up. Something has to give in Corporate America.

I don't work crazy hours. I'm right around 40 a week. But there are some periods when its a bit higher. It averages out. (kinda killing time right now...)

Abe

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Re: People whose work bleeds outside of "office hours"...why?
« Reply #49 on: January 10, 2019, 10:44:30 PM »
Thanks for everyone's comments. It's really interesting to see what other people's jobs entail. It seems some people have critical roles and have to be available, while others are getting piled on by their management for really no good reason. It seems that a lot of companies are basically just threatening people into doing extra work for free, or have competent people clean up after incompetent people's messes.

I for the most part am available by phone/pager (yeah we have those still!) 24/7, but really only get called at night about potentially life-threatening situations, or about specific things I asked to be called about. When the phone goes off, it's probably not anything good, and there's a chance I have to drive in to do an emergency surgery. Anything less than that waits until the morning. Since my bosses are also physicians, they don't bother me with nonsense at night. Usually I'll call or log into the medical record to see how a patient's doing before going to bed, but that's it for work. I do consider reading research articles or books as study, not work, and that's for my own interest rather than someone making me do it.

 
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 10:46:21 PM by Abe »