I used to have a personal blog. I was never fanatical about updating it, but I would post a couple of times a week and the readership was decent. Really, it was my way of reaching out to my Facebook list. I stopped blogging three years ago, around the same time that I started blogging elsewhere for money. When friends would ask me why I stopped, I gave them the simple answer: I don’t work for free.
It’s not that I won’t work for free in some instances, like volunteering or favours for friends. But when it comes down to making the choice between taking on extra paid work and writing for fun, writing for money will always win – at least at this point in my life. I’ve spent the last four years working two jobs at a time (for the most part), and working for free doesn’t fit into that schema.
Except people work for free all the time, myself included. We just don’t recognize it as such. When a person stays late at the office, despite the fact that they are paid to work an eight-hour day, they are essentially working for free. That’s the line of thought that led to a new study
coming out of the United Kingdom (UK).
Aviva published a Health of the Workplace Report based on new research about working hours in the UK. All told, UK workers put in 26 million extra hours in the workplace each day. Six in 10 employees were found to regularly work more than their contracted hours, staying an average of an extra 1.5 hours a day. Nearly 25 per cent of the people surveyed admitted that they work an extra 2-3 hours a day.
Let's not assume the UK is alone in this area. While the average Canadian works 36.2 hours per week, according to government statistics, it is unclear how this figure relates to the hours people are actual contracted (and paid) for. I have many friends who stay much more than 2-3 extra hours at the office to complete duties, most of them in law or business. My friends don’t get overtime pay, but their salaries are much higher than average. I wonder how willing they would be to work 14-hour days if they made, say, $30,000 less a year.
Unsurprisingly, the survey also found that the health of the average worker suffers from all of these extra hours in the office. More than a quarter of people reported feeling tired all of the time, and nearly a quarter say they feel really stressed. Fifteen per cent said their diet is suffering, and only 18 per cent of people felt they still maintained a good work/life balance with their extra work hours.
People claim to work longer hours because their workloads are too large, or because they want to impress the boss. Perhaps this is why workplace stress and depression have become such huge issues. With Smartphones and other technology, there’s no real punch clock. A lot of us are always on the clock or, at the very least, competing with others who are always on-call.
What do you think about this study? How much do you work for free?