At least, that’s the way the saying goes. Unfortunately, it’s the last bit that is the most relevant “when you’re having fun”, those are the truest words ever written, spoken, sung, heard.
For most, the working week is a long one, survived thanks to the knowledge that we have two days of rest to look forward to. Unfortunately, the weekend vanishes in a puff of sweet-smelling smoke. No sooner have we sat down on Friday night, put our feet up and enjoyed a chilled glass of Zinfandel, than it’s Sunday evening and the frantic “have I made lunch? Better put the dryer on to finish the work clothes off” rushing around begins.
It’s worse when you have a long commute, a long working day, and spend the majority of the weekend catching up on chores you haven’t had time to do (cleaning, gardening, laundry). Putting your feet up could well end up being an incredibly foreign concept indeed.
It shouldn’t be ‘live to work’ it should be ‘work to live’. However, it’s becoming increasingly obvious with longer working hours, shorter (and more expensive in some cases) holidays, and even more desk lunches, that this is not the case for most.
As an example:
This morning I woke up at 5am, was showered and dressed by 5.30, fed the cat, did a little bit of a clean of the kitchen (needs more) and spent seven minutes on the balcony to enjoy the early morning fresh air before I rushed off to catch the bus. By 6.07am I was already staring out the bus window. By 7.02am I was walking into a Tesco Express to get my breakfast for the week, and by 7.11am I was standing in line at Starbucks waiting for my regular dose of caffeine. At 7.17am I switched on my work laptop and started doing another search for university rankings.
This afternoon I will leave the office at approximately 4pm (I say approximately, because you never know who is going to schedule a last minute meeting for the end of the day). I will, traffic-willing, get home at approximately 5.45pm, so just shy of 12 hours before I left. I will then spend the rest of the evening making up for those 12 hours when Darcy was shut in the flat with no company, and head to bed at 9pm so I get something which resembles a decent night of sleep (invariably I end up dozing off at around midnight as I am a night owl and even after nearly eight months, sleeping at night is a very unwelcome thing).
The above is a normal day for me, and indeed, a normal day for a great many people. That doesn’t mean it’s how it should be. What happened to the whole work/life balance thing? I know! It went out the window. For some reason, more and more companies are forgetting that their staff are people, and as well as increasing hours (even by just 30-minutes a day) they are ensuring that the balance we were meant to enjoy vanished.
A lot of people have days, weeks, months, years like mine. Does that mean it’s right? Does that mean it’s how it should be?
I would argue that working from home one day a week should become the right of everyone. I know that not all people want it, but if a recent change enacted by the amazing people who brought us WordPress (Automattic) shows anything it’s that working from home can be an effective (and relatively cheap) way to run a business; in a surprise move, they closed down their expensive offices in San Francisco as only a few people were actually going in regularly. They are an incredibly successful (read profitable) concern, and they were built almost entirely on people who worked from home offices, dining tables and kitchen counters!
Obviously, working from home (WFH) doesn’t work (ha) for everyone (call centres for example, or people who require constant validation or observation to get their work done) but it should be an option that anyone can ask for (and not be denied if the case is reasonable). Being given the autonomy to schedule your own day is something which motivates, inspires and energises a person. Having a degree of autonomy (rather than being overlooked, observed and constantly monitored) makes you feel as though you are worth something rather than being completely worthless. It is this, I feel, that a lot of workers are being denied.
In the days of slow dial-up and clunky desktops it was an understandable move when only management were given the luxury of having a bit of a lie in, and being able to check their work remotely. However, these days everyone (or most everyone) has access to speedy cable or broadband internet, light and reliable laptops, and secure connections, so why is it that some companies still have an issue when it comes to trusting their staff?
Hopefully things will change, at least where I am, before I keel over, but I am not going to hold my breath (though it’s tempting).
On another job-related note, I have to be honest and say that I wish companies would actually do what they say they will. Unfortunately, all too often, they aren’t made accountable when it comes to their recruitment policy. This might just be a personal thing, but I honestly feel that if I have taken time out of my day (usually holiday) to interview for a position you are advertising, you obviously liked what you saw on my CV (and in the materials I may have produced for you). That being the case, is it too much to ask that you provide me with feedback?
Let me know what you did and didn’t like, what I could have changed, why you went with another candidate (whether it’s because they’re better at certain things, performed better on the day or whatever). Just because you have chosen not to hire me doesn’t mean that the buck stops with that one interview; I am going to try again elsewhere, and I don’t want to make (potentially) the same mistakes. Of course, I might not have made any, my face might not fit, you might consider that my skillset isn’t the right square for the box you are holding. I don’t know. But I honestly think that companies sometimes forget the candidates they have interviewed are human, and as such deserve to be treated that way. It is as though they feel their time is more important than mine. I know that I applied for the job, but you wanted to see me, so is our time not equally as valuable?
Have you ever been frustrated with the ‘after’ of an interview? Do you think that candidates (successful or not) deserve feedback?