Work/life imbalance: the joke’s on us

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WATERLOO — Who worked longer hours: 19th century miners or 21st century Londoners? We think we know the answer, don’t we?

It is easy — and essentially correct — to say that the modern worker also has more choices, more disposable income and a longer life expectancy.

However today’s newspapers also explain that most of us will be suffering from some disabling illness before we make it to 68, the proposed retirement age. 75% is the fairly sobering figure.

I’m cautiously optimistic about most things, but I don’t fancy those odds.

How long until we see an institutional culture that worries about the long-term health of people who work in it?

When was the last time that you were urged to take a holiday?

When were you last sent home at the real end of the scheduled work day?

And yet you probably have oversight of some other people? What about them? What example are you setting?

Years ago I was told by my boss that I couldn’t go on a two week honeymoon because I had to help save my country. (I was working in politics.) The country is still standing.

I can’t really blame anyone else. It was my call to push back. But I will always regret the week that my new wife sat at home and did nothing…

No one is really as interested in your life as you are. And no one is going to be as disappointed when you piss it away either.


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One Response

  1. Andrew

    David – Some aspects of this imbalance start way earlier than employment.

    My teenage daughter now often stays up later than I do to do her homework to the very high standard she feels will meet the expectations of teachers and peers (despite parental entreaties to get some sleep). I’m all for enthusiastic learning and self-development (and I collude in some imbalancing by preferring her effort to its opposite). But I have a feeling that I’m one day going to have to ask her the question “On your deathbed, do you think you’ll be wishing you’d spent more time at the office?”

    I’ve heard it a few times now, but it pulled me up short when I was first asked. (Haven’t spent much time at the office since then, come to think of it…!)

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