WTOP, a radio station based here in the Washington, DC area, reports on a survey conducted by Career Builder on our perception of the 9 to 5 workday. While I have no idea of (or faith in) the reliability of this study, its result doesn’t surprise me. It does, however, concern me. In short, the study reveals that we’ve all but abandoned the 9-5 workday in that, at the very least, we’re still thinking about work during our off-hours.
The American work ethic has its merits. We’re ranked #6 according to the Bloomberg Innovation Index, but I’m sure if you looked at the criteria, you’d agree that the ways in which we shine are the ways we care about the most. In other words, we’d be in the top 5 of any category we wanted if we really wanted to shine in that category. It’s also easy to be the relatively carefree Iceland (for example), as long as there’s an innovative United States there to provide them the progress that they’d otherwise not have. So, bravo to our work ethic.
However, this work ethic can be taken too far. It concerns me that, a few years shy of 50, I’m only now “learning” to take vacations. Their value is astronomical to our ability to handle such a heavy work schedule. I’m also concerned that employers aren’t giving employees federal holidays. Again, the occasional three-day weekend melts away the stress of the daily grind, lasting at least until the next federal holiday. While its true that work needs to be stressful (i.e., an employee that’s too relaxed isn’t productive), it shouldn’t be overwhelming.
In short, it’s good that we work so hard and so much, but periodically we need to take breaks from that, which employers need to respect. Life is balance.
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Rob Bodine is a Virginia attorney focusing his practice on real estate and intellectual property law. He’s currently Virginia counsel with First Class Title, Inc., a Maryland title insurance and settlement company. Rob is also a licensed title insurance agent in Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.