Over this long weekend break, have you checked any work emails or do you have your business phone diverted to your mobile? I am sure many reading this column will have surreptitiously sneaked a quick look at their email via their phone or iPad over the break, which is ironic, as this long weekend is all about celebrating the 40-hour work week.

Employment Innovator

As a young man in 1839, carpenter Samuel Parnell sailed to New Zealand to start a new life. Gaining a commission to build a store for shipping agent George Hunter, he carefully laid down his terms with the words "on the job the hours shall only be eight for the day ... There are twenty-four hours per day given us; eight of these should be for work, eight for sleep, and the remaining eight for recreation."

Hunter was not happy with the terms, replying that "in London people started work at 6am". Realising there was a lack of skilled professionals on the other side of the world, Parnell calmly responded "We're not in London". Sixty years later the Labour Day Act 1899 established a national holiday for all New Zealanders, celebrating the 40-hour work week.

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How far have we come?

Recently I phoned a friend on their business landline, and was diverted to their mobile while they were on holiday in the Pacific. The strangest thing was that they were seemingly comfortable with their boss fielding calls to them, while on their precious time away from the office.

Sadly, many of us now work harder than we ever have, due to the ability for work to invade every area of our personal life via technology. It seems we are all "one click" away from our next client query, brain storming session or work crisis.

This doesn't quite match with economist John Keynes' prediction in 1930 that we would now all be working a 15-hour week, or a United States Senate committee's report in 1965 that predicted the work week would be around 14 hours long by 2000 (with seven weeks off ).

Time v Productivity

Having a positive work life balance is vital to a healthy and sustainable career, benefiting both you and your employer.

Research by Stanford University looking at the correlation between hours worked and overall productivity, found that employee output crashes after more than 50 hours. As well as this, longer hours are also connected to absenteeism and employee turnover.

According to CNN, Dutch workers work roughly 11 fewer weeks than their American counterparts each year, however in a Unicef report on child well-being in rich countries, the Netherlands was ranked No.1, whereas the US was at the bottom of the list at No.20.

Rethinking Work

It's important to reflect on our how our career has progressed since January. Are we seeking a genuine work/life balance that will ensure long-term employment sustainability (that is positive to both ourselves and our employer), or are we surreptitiously sneaking time away from those to whom we have pledged our lives, or bought into the world?

Contact Tom for a free Linkedin or CV review, or to be your personal career coach. Visit www.CareerCoach.nz or www.CV.co.nz to find out more.