Living Articles

Honest work: your working hours

Each month we ask our panel a question about their working lives. The Honest Work contributors are Emerald Street readers just like you and all their responses

The Receptionist/ Comedian

I am a professional comedian/writer. Like most artists, my chosen career path is not financially stable enough to support me, so I work full-time as a corporate receptionist.

"Working as a full-time receptionist on top of my comedy career means I'm pretty much never not working. Fortunately I don't take work home with me from my reception job, so, if that were my only role, the hours would feel pretty fair. The comedy hours are trickier: gigs are at night, festivals take up whole weekends, auditions, meetings, and writing times can be at any hour and often conflict with the day job. If I just had one or the other it would feel manageable, but I must be honest that working full-time really eats in to my comedy work. I'm sure is holding me back from progressing in my career, but it's a financial necessity. The other thing is that in comedy our work is mostly self-generated, so when I'm not writing or gigging I constantly feel guilty that I should be. It doesn't leave much time to have a guilt-free social life (or even a guilt-free Netflix binge.) I do those things anyway, just with a constant niggling feeling that I'm not working hard enough. My artist friends who don't have day jobs complain about how tired they get after temping for three days of normal office hours. I find it hilarious - they really have no idea."

The Supply Chain Team Leader

I live in Aberdeen and work in Oil and Gas.

"I work 40 hours a week and get paid overtime. I generally stick to the 40 hours, but in busy periods, maybe for a couple of weeks at a time, it could go up to 50.
Our core hours are 9am -4pm, so most people choose to start early and finish at 4. I normally start at 8-8.30 (which is considered late) and leave between 4.30 and 5. Everyone eats lunch at 12.
I'd love to start at 9 and work later but we hold our daily calls with offshore at 8.30 or earlier (their shifts start about 7) so it's best to be available then. It can also be soul-destroying to be in the office alone at 5pm!"

The Textile Designer

I specialise in the screen-printing process, printing and design for fashion and interiors. Living and working in London.

"I am happy and proud to say that I love my job and there rarely is a day that I don’t actually look forward to going to work. My hours are freelance, what does that mean? I don’t think I will ever be able to tell you that with certainty. While I try to maintain a regular working week there are still weeks when I work evenings and weekends - however I have never managed to count my working hours and I would never want to do so. Because even in my free time I constantly draw inspiration from the things around me, network with people in my industry and maintain my social media accounts - all of which I do with a lot of joy and passion. So it is hard to say where work starts and ends - because it never feels like work. I never thought I would say it but I am lucky that I don’t suffer from those Sunday blues."

The Diplomat

I work on global issues. I currently live and work in London.

"Although my contract states a 36 hour week, there is an implied understanding that this is the exception rather than the norm. I work between 40-42 hours most weeks. However given the flexi working options available, a generous annual leave allocation and the fact that I like my job (most of the time!) I am broadly happy with my working hours.

I have never had strict 9-5 hours and occasionally work 12 hour days close to big deadlines. But I have also worked in a 50/50 job share, one day a week from home after maternity leave until my daughter turned one and most recently a nine day compressed hours fortnight to spend more time with her.

Speaking to friends in the private sector who regularly work a 60 hour week, I think my working hours are probably the norm these days."

The Religious Institution Manager

I am a charity executive director. I live in London and am married with two grown-up children.

"On paper ( that is, my employment  contract) my working hours at are so reasonable: 9am-5pm for four days a week and the 9am-3pm on Fridays. So civilised and short days.

BUT in reality, there is so much to do, too few staff , so many demands, that as the chief executive, I rarely leave before 6.30pm (still early for some jobs I know) and I have up to two evening meetings a week and it is difficult to take time off in lieu.

When Stylist ran  its Reclaim Your Lunch Break, we all loved the idea in the office and I nagged other staff to take their lunch break. I have realised that if staff don't see me take my lunch break or leave on time, then they may feel less confident in doing this."

The Music Manger

I run a music production company, that makes music for films, TV & video games. I live and work in Glasgow.

"Our “official” working hours are 9:30am-6pm, five days a week. However, this has become more of a struggle to stick to as we’ve grown to work with more US clients. We are such a small team (only two office-based staff), now with studios in the UK and LA, more and more this means taking client calls outside of working hours, or being at your desk late at night. I’m lucky to have full flexibility and responsibility of my daily hours and because of this trust, I don’t take advantage. But the work/life balancing act is a constant struggle."

The Chartered Surveyor

I value land and property for clients who aim to redevelop them. I live and work in London.

"9-5 is great, thank you!

I used to work part-time, so 9-5, five days a weeks seemed such a grind at first, and even a few years on, some friends still ask how I can bear it – but many people work worse hours than these, so I am grateful for a 5pm finish.

There are definitely times when the day seems too short to get everything done,  so I carry on working beyond 5pm, but not from any over-work culture, but because I feel the responsibility to complete tasks. Generally I leave on time, and can enjoy an unhurried evening cooking/ spending time with the family/ relaxing etc.

Some days are full of meetings when I barely get time to eat lunch, so I usually try to take a decent lunch break when I can (but not always an hour) as I feel a mental break from work thoughts is necessary."

In my previous role there were times when the day dragged, so I definitely feel job satisfaction reflects on how you feel the day passes."

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