Labor Day Lament: How Come Everybody Works 12-Hour Days Now?

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Something tells me that even though (on the East Coast anyway) it’s late in the work day on a Friday that kicks off a holiday weekend celebrating the working man and working woman, there are still plenty workers still at work as they read this. How’s that working for ya?

A post at the NY Times’ Complaint Box tackles a topic that many workers can surely relate to nowadays: How did we get to the point that it is more typical for employees to still be at work at 8 p.m. than it is for them to head home promptly at 5 p.m.?

It’s hard to say exactly when the death of 9-to-5, 5 days a week occurred, but at some point it passed on, replaced by 7-ish-to-sometime-after-dinnertime, 6 and sometimes 7 days a week. This too is a component of the “New Normal.” In an age when technology has increased efficiency and replaced manpower, how can this be called progress? And why are such hours expected of anyone hoping to avoid being labeled a slacker—or hoping to have a job at all?

Here’s an excerpt from the Times’ post, written by a freelancer who typical works 65 to 70 hours a week:

Nowadays, the day is done when your work is done. And the work is never really done. You can’t leave it until tomorrow because you’ll have too much to do tomorrow. The huge overhaul that transformed us into a more flexible, fun-loving society has righted itself: It is O.K. to wear jeans, O.K. to have a cappuccino machine, O.K. to surf a little during the workday, but it is not O.K. to leave at a reasonable hour.

Once again, the writer here is a freelancer, a member of the increasingly huge group of workers who have no benefits or job security. Which brings up an entirely different reason to lament.

Happy Labor Day!

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