Tuesday, 11 June 2013


I like watching TV programmes I like, and not watching other ones, or adverts, so I have one of those boxes that records your programmes, or lets you watch other ones on demand.

I like listening to radio programmes I like when I want to, without people talking over them, and without having to listen to radio dramas, so I listen to podcasts. I get them on my 'phone, and I listen on headphones while I'm doing boring stuff, and I don't need to be listening out for the weans.

On another lovely day in seaside town, with glorious sunshine, I set to defeating the laundry monster. I spent some quality time with my Ecoegg, my whirlygig and my headphones, listening to 'Thinking Allowed', which was all about work.

They were saying that people who are working (they were mainly talking about people working in more middle class jobs) were working more hours since the financial crisis started.  Yet, at the same time, figures show that people are doing lots of internet shopping while they're at work, and indeed looking at porn (at work! Don't these people have firewalls!?).  It seems like there isn't actually more work to do, but people are being expected to show their commitment by being present.

I have had jobs where I was expected to be present, even though there wasn't enough to do.  The worst one was when I was temping at a University in a Department which was trying to prove it needed more staff.  It didn't.  They did find some random jobs for me to do for a while, which was fun (I even enjoyed counting all the chairs in all the teaching rooms), but there wasn't enough.  It was tedious, it was mind-numbing, it didn't do a whole lot for my self-worth.  The worst thing was the agency said they wouldn't put me in another position if I walked out.  So I was stuck there... but at least it was a good place to be stuck while looking for a job.

I've been in other jobs where I felt like there was a whole lot of job creation going on.  I was busy, but what I was doing didn't really seem to be necessary.  I've also noticed that a lot of jobs call for flexibility, and yet the flexibility always seems to mean the employer gets more of the employees time!  Flexitime is just another way of ensuring people are paid for presenteeism, rather than the work they do.

However it's done, making people do more hours than they need to is a waste of their time, and messes up other people's lives.  People should be paid to do the job they are employed to do, not to be present for extra hours.  They should be valued enough to be trusted to do the work they are paid to do.  Sure, sometimes that might mean they work a bit more than their contracted hours, but sometimes it will mean they work less.

This culture of putting in the hours is taking people out of their families, for too long, unecessarily.  It is also making it harder for people with caring responsibilities to get employed.  We are missing out on lots of good people, both at home and at work.  Can we stop it please?

Dads playing with kids at home.  Can we get more of this please?

Sorry about the rant, but the state of work at the moment really rattles me.  I'd better warn you, there's an In Our Time podcast on work lined up.

What about you?  Have you had a job where you didn't have enough to do?  Or where you were just doing nothingy things which you didn't feel were much use?  What do you think about the working hours culture at the moment?