Report: Most Executives Work 50-Hour-Plus Weeks

If you feel you spend long days at the office and put in an excessive number of work hours a week, you have plenty of company. The good news is that it isn’t as bad as it was just a few years ago.

The majority of senior executives and managers now spend 10 hours or more in a typical workday, based on a new survey by NFI Research. For these business leaders, the 40-hour workweek is only a memory, with the majority working 51 hours or more a week.

In 2003, when we conducted this same survey, 70 percent of executives and managers were spending 10 hours or more a day, compared to 58 percent today. At that time, 65 percent were spending 51 or more hours a week at work, compared to 58 percent today.

“Gone are the days of the 40-hour workweek,” said one survey respondent. “My company expects all managers to put in 50 to 60 hours a week as the average.”

Said another: “Fifty hours is a typical minimum workweek for most of the managers and executives I know. This likely doesn’t include them doing e-mails at home, answering BlackBerrys at family events, etc. It is a bit out of control in that regard.”

With many mergers and acquisitions today, there are situations in which companies require even more hours than the high normal amount.

“I’ve been working six to seven days a week, 12-plus hours a day as we restructure our company,” said one respondent. “This is not very sustainable, and I’m starting to look for a new job.”

Reasons for the number of hours worked vary. For some, it is the sheer amount of work that needs to get done.

“Work volume is growing, and the number of hours isn’t,” said one respondent. “You work longer to meet deadlines, and senior management wonders why you need additional resources. It’s a chronic Catch-22.”

Another reason so many people work so many hours is peer pressure. After all, who wants to be the last to arrive or the first to leave on a regular basis?

“I feel I am compelled to be in the office for more hours than necessary just because it is expected,” said another respondent. “I feel that if people spent only six to seven hours in the office a day, five days a week, we would all become more productive and more would get done. Too much time is spent chitchatting and talking. Work has become too many people’s lives, and they live to work instead of work to live.”

Though there are some solutions, moving up the ladder is not one of them. More senior executives than managers spend more hours per day as well as more hours per week working. And the larger the company, the more hours executives and managers spend working.

Some individuals are finally taking it upon themselves to reduce the excessive number of hours worked.

“The reason that I don’t work more is that I put a limit on the number of hours,” said one manager. “If I did not, it would easily be more. There are other things in life.”

There are two fundamental problems with working long hours. The first is the extra time at work typically comes from time at home, causing work-life imbalance. The second is that there is little time left for thinking, which could go a long way toward making businesses run better and more efficiently—requiring fewer hours.

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