October 2, 2022

Do You Work a Secret Second Shift Job at Home?

Are you one of the chosen few picking up extra hours on the side? I'm not talking moonlighting, I'm talking picking up where you left off when you left the office. A recent BloombergBusinessweek lifestyle piece addressed the new work-life balance:

Work has been leeching onto people’s off-duty time for years. E-mail makes it easier to communicate and more likely that annoyingly ambitious colleagues will respond to every message, at length and in real time. (In-box volumes are increasing by about 15 percent a year, according to global data group Experian) With the growing irresistibility of the smartphone and the ubiquity of cloud collaboration, evening work for many professionals has become standard. We come home from the office, change into more comfortable clothes, put the kids to bed, and maybe open a bottle of wine. And then we grab our laptops and log back in.

“This is now a common thing,” says Beth Livingston, an assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University, who cites the growth of salaried jobs and types of work that can be accomplished outside the office as factors behind the new night shift. “We don’t produce anything that is easy to see, so the only way to measure our output is by working hard.”

Email gets the blame for a lot of our inability to disconnect but the real problem might actually be how we work when we're working. Floating between offices, "collaborating" with colleagues, sitting through meeting after meeting; all of it means less time to focus and do actual work.

Part of the problem is that modern workplaces make it so difficult to do any actual work. Employees spend an average of four hours per week in meetings, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. E-mail provides a constant distraction: The average worker spends 28 percent of her time managing her in-box, according to a 2012 McKinsey Global Institute survey. And the incessant buzz from the guy in the next cubicle—about 70 percent of offices now have open floor plans—makes deep thinking impossible.

As if working late at night at home with a bottle of wine makes it any easier.

It's unclear just how "common" this really is or if we have a case of a writer who wanted to make a point and therefore grabbed a few select examples of ambitious workers to make it.

Let's be completely honest here: just how many hours are you working after dark in the comfort of your own home? I'm not talking drinking wine and playing Candy Crush and answering a couple emails. I mean actually working.

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