Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Leave Me Alone!

"The workers are going home" Weezer

I finished work today at 18:00, nothing unusual about that as I normally finish sometime between 17:30 and 18:30. I got in the lift, put my i-pod on, had a smoke on my walk to the bus stop, jumped on the bus, walked down the hill, checked the mail-box, went up stairs and let myself into my apartment. I then went through the daily ritual of unloading my pockets, including my mobile phone, to which I gave a cursory glance only to find I had 5 missed calls in the half-hour it took to leave work and get home (it must have been ringing on the bus, but the escapism of my i-pod drowned it out... for me at least).

The calls were all from work. Checking my voicemail, the caller turned out to be a guy working on a project to re-vamp the company's online store. I have been performing testing on the changes and have raised numerous defects for things which are blatantly obvious to anyone with half a brain for business. Why these issues existed in the first place is beyond me - I mean to say it only makes sense to restrict a mobile phone number field to 10 digits, not 38!! Still, it's the developer's job to put the code together by the specs they've been given and my job to pick these issues up - regardless of how blatantly obvious they are. However, I digress. The caller was requesting that I provide sign-off on the fixes which have been put in place for my defects - tonight. Given that it was 18:30 and I was standing in my bedroom at home, not sitting at my desk at work, I chose not to return the call. In the next 1 hour, my phone rang no less than 6 times. I ignored every call.

I fully appreciate that the guy making the calls has a job to do and a boss to answer to. I appreciate that he has a deadline to deliver to and requirements to meet. I appreciate that he may have a family at home having dinner without him due to his work. I just wish that he could appreciate that I had just finished a 9 hour day and was not in the right place (both physically and mentally) to answer his call and provide the sign-off that he was seeking. I was done for the day. Done, no more, finished, over and out, gone, caput.

This is a scary trend in Australian workplaces. We are being expected to work longer hours, eating into our own personal time, with no financial incentive. Certainly, no business would put it in writing that they expect you to work more than 7.5hrs per day or field work calls outside of business hours, it's unwritten law. The ACTU has this to say:

Between 1985 and 2002, the proportion of employees working 40-45 hours rose from 23.4 to 31.3 percent, while for 45-50 hours it increased from 17.8 to 26.1. The
percentage working 50 hours or more rose from 10.2 to 17.4.

Data assembled by the ACTU revealed that the number working 60 hours or more increased from 3 to over 7 percent between 1980 and 1996. The ACTU data also concluded that Australia has the highest rate of unpaid overtime among developed countries, with 25 percent of full-time employees not paid for an average of 2.7 hours a week each.


We are spending more time at work and less time living. Companies are getting more for less as workers are doing extra hours which could be covered by an additional staff member. Some companies (including the one I work for) refer to staff as "heads" - as in, "we have funding for an additional 3 heads this year". We are not heads, we are people with lives to live outside of work.

I will tolerate your bullshit while you pay me and I will put in the extra time to get my work done, but please, please just leave me alone when I'm off the clock.

Tomorrow is Thursday.....


Songs played while writing this entry:
"Impact" Sound Enforcer
"Seven Days and One Week" B.B.E.
"You Shook Me All Night Long" AC/DC
"Give It Away" Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Sweetness and Light" Itch-E and Scratch-E
"Rock And Roll Aint Noise Pollution" AC/DC
"No Sense" Cold Chisel
"Ebeneezer Goode" The Shamen
"Lithium" Nirvana

1 comment:

Ron Davison said...

This is the rarely reported downside to the wireless world that blurs the boundaries between work and home. For me, it's not just an issue of too many hours; it's an issue of no time for gestation and thus no room for creativity.

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