Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Trans-Atlantic Knowledge Exchange => Topic started by: saki on March 20, 2012, 03:47:47 AM

Title: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: saki on March 20, 2012, 03:47:47 AM
Something I notice on this forum and when I visit the US is that everything seems shifted earlier than I'm used to.

In the UK, at least among my salaried professional friends, normal working hours are about 9.15/9.30-5.30/6ish. Getting in at 8.30/9 isn't uncommon, nor is getting in at more like 10, but getting much earlier than 8.30 is considered a bit weird. Judging by when the tube is busy, that seems to be relatively true across London, though there are exceptions, or course.

Lunch is, on average, at 1 - 12 is about the earliest, 2 is the latest. Dinner is, on average, at about 7/7.30, 6 is the earliest you'd go and 9 is probably the latest.

Assuming that I'm right re: Americans keeping earlier hours, does anyone have any theories as to why?

I'd be interested in hearing about typical schedules in other countries too.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: merryns on March 20, 2012, 04:17:06 AM
I've lived in two Australian states - Tasmanian and Queensland. Queenslanders work much earlier hours, probably because of the hotter climate.
Maybe Americans start earlier because of the insanely early time the school day seems to start. And why's that? Sending kids to school in winter in the dark on icy roads seems weird to me.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: faithlessone on March 20, 2012, 04:20:30 AM
I think it also depends on the profession and the size of the company. I'm in the UK too, by the way.

I work part-time for an office of a small building/construction company. Officially, my hours are 8:30 - 5:00, but I often come in a bit earlier (say 8:15) so I can leave a bit earlier or have a little longer for lunch. (This is totally fine!)

The office manager works 7:30 - 5:00, and the other schedules vary wildly, usually down to what contracts they're working on, and where the sites are. There's six men who are generally office-bound, but they start work anywhen from 6am till 10am, depending on their own preferences.

In my case, it's a family-run company, so that might also affect things. So long as the work gets done, and there's at least one person in the office between 8am and 6pm, I don't think Tony (the boss) really cares.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: iridaceae on March 20, 2012, 05:32:54 AM
I work in the hotel industry- have for many years and the main shifts seem to be 7a-3p, 3p-11p and 11p-7a in all of the hotels I have worked in; it seems to be an industry standard.

Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: a on March 20, 2012, 06:55:51 AM
Iím in the UK too and Iím Scandinavian. Agree that the UK is ďlateĒ and Iím not quite used to it. At a previous work place I had a colleague who would regularly start at 10.30! Thatís like half a day later than in Scandinavia...

In Scandinavia the normal starting time for schools is 8-8.15am. Starting at 9am would constitute a lay in, whereas UK schools generally start at 9. Most Scandi offices open their switchboards at 8am (9am at current UK workplace) and when I worked there I used to get in around 8 too. Now in the UK I only get in before or for 8 when I have an 8am or 8.30 meeting, not that often.

This also goes with the working hours though. In Sweden 40 hours constitute full time, Denmark 37 hours. This is statutory in both countries. In the UK this may vary, I currently work 36 hours as full time (+ some over time most weeks).

Is there a fixed number of hours for full-time in other countries?
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: camlan on March 20, 2012, 07:21:48 AM
I'm in the US.

Most of my jobs have started at 9 am and ended at 5 pm, which is fairly standard. Usually, there's half an hour for lunch, but I did work one place where they gave us a paid hour for lunch, which was unusual.

While 9-5 is a standard, there are places that are 8-4, or 8:30-4:30. Where my sister works, they get an unpaid hour for lunch and their work day is 9-6 to accommodate that. There are all sorts of variations on the "standard" schedule. And this is only for office jobs. Factories and hospitals and retail stores and other places that are open longer hours every day have a variety of different shifts.

If you are salaried, while your standard work hours may be 9-5 or some variation of that, you are expected to work until your job is done, which is why so many people get to work early and stay late--they have work that must be finished by a certain time and they need to do it.

Many companies offer flex-time, where all employees need to be in the building during a certain core number of hours, say 10-2, but as long as you work an 8 hour day, you can come in as early or late as you like, as long as you are there during the core hours.

Add in that the average commute in the US is 45 minutes one way, and you can see why people are up and eating breakfast at an early hour.

As for schools, for a good part of the year it's either send the kids to school in the dark or have them come home in the dark. A surprising amount of the scheduling is due to the buses. Most school systems have one set of buses. They send them out early for the high school students, then do a second round for the middle school/junior high students, and then a final round for the elementary school kids. They don't want the drivers waiting around, as they are paid by the hour.

There are a great many places in the US where the kids cannot walk to school due to distance and lack of sidewalks/street lights/other safety issues and where there is absolutely no public transportation.

High schools start early and get out early in part so that the students can have part-time after-school jobs, and to allow time for all the extra-curricular activities, such as sports and band. If school gets out too late, the sports teams would be practicing in the dark.

Another factor in starting school early is that parents are leaving for work early. They don't want to leave small children home alone, trusting them to remember when to go out to catch the school bus. The parents would either have to drive the kids to school on the way to work (and the school might not yet be open) or pay someone to mind the children until the school bus comes.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Jones on March 20, 2012, 08:25:47 AM
Another American here.
In my "adult" jobs (jobs I've had since graduating) I've had two different schedules: 7-5 and 8-5. 7-5 made for a long day but overtime in my paycheck, so worth it. I get one hour unpaid lunch daily. I get up at  5:15, an ungodly hour so far as I'm concerned, but I have children to get ready and shipped off before I go to work.

I work in an oilfield office, my technicians generally start work much earlier; 5-6 AM. That's because they cover a wide area and often have 2-3 hours of driving in order to reach the location they service on a given day. I've worked in this industry for 8 years, my dad's worked oilfield for over 30, and those earlier hours are quite common for the technicians/pumpers/etc. If they want to get the job done, and be home at a decent hour, they have to start out early. And I have to be at my office by the time they are on location so I can provide their support; e.g. billing, purchasing, stock maintenance.

Since one industry is up that early, others have to be too. Restaurants, gyms, groceries, day cares, gas stations all miss out on revenue if they aren't open when their clientele is looking for breakfast, workouts, childcare.

When I was in high school, it started at 7:30 AM. We were out by 3, and then I was able to work my part time job 4 hours, followed by an hour or two of homework. I was lucky, or maybe just organized; most of my homework was planned out enough I could do it on weekends, and during my free period at school.

I guess we just have to get up early in order to tackle everything we want to in a day.  :)
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: audrey1962 on March 20, 2012, 09:28:45 AM
I'm in the US, specifically in the Detroit-area, which has a long history of manufacturing jobs. Here in Detroit, most automotive or manufacturing jobs run three shifts: days, which is typically 7a-4p; afternoons, which is typically 4p-11p, and nights, which is 11p-7a. While I do not know why 7a-4p was chosen for the day shift, I do know that many white-collar workers either choose or are told to work the same hours as the day shift, which is 7a-4p.

I also recall reading that Henry Ford was one of the first to create the three shift schedule. Before that, it had been two longer shifts. So perhaps he preferred working early? I do not know.

I think I may have read somewhere that farmers work early to avoid the intense heat in the afternoon. Henry Ford grew up on a farm. I suspect many of those who work in manufacturing may have started out on a farm, so perhaps that has something to do with it?
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Dindrane on March 20, 2012, 09:52:52 AM
I'm also in the US, and have lived in two different regions.  "Standard business hours" in the US tend to be 8 to 5, in that it is typically reasonable to expect all offices to be open and staffed from 8 to 5 each day.  Some may close for lunch at a specified time, while others have people stagger their lunches so that they stay open.

Some people do end up with alternative schedules.  I, for instance, work 8:30 to 5:30, primarily because that 5-5:30 time is often the only chance I have all day to talk to my boss.  Because I am an hourly employee and need to be more or less available throughout business hours, I can't really come in later than 8:30.

I think the usual work schedule in the US used to be more like 9 to 5 (you hear that referenced as part of a shorthand for a full time office job), but I suspect that was during a time period when employees were more likely to be paid for lunch.  Since that is now very uncommon, work days have expanded to accommodate an unpaid lunch without sacrificing part of the work day to do it.

And, since it doesn't sound like this is true elsewhere, a full time job in the US will officially require 40 hours per week.  People in overtime eligible positions typically won't get it until they have worked more than 40 hours in one seven-day period.

As far as when schools start, it's probably partially to coincide with "business hours" and partially to accommodate extra-curricula activities.  Club meetings and sports practices all take place after school, so having those start much later than 3 would make it more difficult for children to attend them.  My usual school schedule was about 8 to 3 in elementary school, 8:30 to 3:30 in middle school, and 7:30 or 8:30 to 3:30 in high school (depending upon how many classes I took).  When I started my day at 8:30, it was a challenge for me to get to school, because it was too late for my parents to drop me off, I lived too close to take the bus, and I lived too far away to walk.  That was about the time when I was old enough to drive myself to school, so it no longer made much of a difference that my parents weren't able to provide transportation.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: WhiteTigerCub on March 20, 2012, 11:00:54 AM
I'm in the US and work in the insurance industry. 6-2:30, 7-3:30, 8-4:30 are all pretty standard shifts. I am salaried so I can pretty much make my own hours but I normally work 8:30-4:30 M-F with no lunch for a couple of reasons. 

1) I work on the West Coast while my boss and department peers are on the East Coast. (3 hour time difference currently) I'd like to work a later shift, but that wouldn't leave me much time to discuss/conference call with my counterparts on the East Coast.

2)I choose to come in at 8:30 over 8:00 because traffic is a lot worse at 8:00 so it would make my 30 minutes commute about 15 mins longer. (45 mins).  :/
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: WillyNilly on March 20, 2012, 12:40:30 PM
I'm in the US - east coast and standard business hours here tend to be 9-5 or 9-6. But I have vendors etc farther west who's hours seem to start at 7 or 8 am, probably in part to increase overlap between time zones.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Clair Seulement on March 20, 2012, 12:55:52 PM
I'm in the US too, in the NY metropolitan area. Our company's core hours are 9-4, and we just need to work 8 hours around that time frame and keep it more or less consistent so that our boss knows when to expect us.

In the past couple of years, I feel like I've noticed people coming in earlier (8-ish) or later (10-ish) than when I first started working in a corporate milieu over 10 years ago. I think that this is owing to both the unbearableness (can't think of another word to describe it) of the commutes in this area and the fact that a strict and uniform set of business hours is less important now that portable communication devices are more common.

I myself suffered so much anxiety bucking traffic or crowded trains to get in at 9 that when I got wind of the fact that I could come in between 8 and 8:30, I jumped at the chance. It's the difference between finding a seat on the train and not, and waiting in line for 5 minutes at the Starbucks versus 15; also, and this could just be confirmation bias talking, but it seems to me that the crush of ridership on our antiquated mass transit systems triggers or exacerbates service delays--I can't tell you how many times I managed to get to work before massive hour-long delays held up my later-arriving colleagues.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: MacadamiaNut on March 20, 2012, 01:45:19 PM
I've worked in both the U.S. and Canada.  I've always worked in flexible work hour environments meaning I only needed to be there for the core hours in the middle of the day, which varies by company.  Regardless of this freedom, I have always chosen to be an early bird because I find it saves overall time.

1) No traffic.
2) No interruptions (not too many people in the office at 7am, no phone calls, etc.)
3) Earlier lunch (11am) so there's no waiting in long lines with the rest of the rat race.
4) I leave the office while it's still daylight, so I feel I have saved a good portion of the day for myself.

I think the early schedule in general has to do with daylight savings time and farming hours.  At least I think I read that somewhere. 

Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Outdoor Girl on March 20, 2012, 02:21:50 PM
We are allowed to come in as early as 8:00 am and stay as late as 6:00 pm.  At least one person has to stay until 5:00 pm every day.  We rotate who that person is - there are more duties they are responsible for than just staying until 5:00.  We have people that work 8-4, 8-4:15, 8-4:30 and 9-5, with their hours shifting if the workload requires it.

Since our lunch is unpaid, we can take whatever amount of time we'd like but the supervisors prefer us to stick to the same amount of time everyday unless there is a reason to shift it.  We don't have many commuters in our office but the few we do have will cut their lunches short if traffic made them late.

The perk that we have that is really fantastic is that we can work extra time every day over a 4 week period and then take a day off during the next 4 week period.  It is a great day to use to schedule doctor's appointments, etc, and keep you from having to use vacation time.  Or you can add it to your vacation and get an extra day of unwind time or use it to save a vacation day for later.  It benefits the employer in that they have happier workers and they don't have to pay overtime very often, because most of us are working longer hours.

If someone had a reason to start super early and leave super early, they can make a case to the supervisors and it might get approved.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Aggiesque on March 20, 2012, 02:34:42 PM
I work (well, when I go back) 7:15-2:30. I work at a daycare, though, so we need to be open for parents at 7:30.

Most businesses which are client/customer based are 8 or 9-5 or 6. My DH usually works 8-4:30.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: veryfluffy on March 20, 2012, 03:50:12 PM
In my working life in standard office jobs (in London), the usual hours were 9:00 to about 5:30.

But when I worked in the City, ie investment banking/financial services, the hours were more like 7:30 am to 6:30 pm.

Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Hmmmmm on March 20, 2012, 05:01:16 PM
I've worked with international companies for 20 plus years.  I've always noticed that US companies start earlier but the further East Coast you get, the more likely a 9am start is going to be.  My theory is it started because of our multiple timezones and our flexible work schedules.

I'm only going to address a standard corporate environment, not shift work.
On the East Coast, a 9 to 5 job was standard and had a one hour paid lunch.  As more companies opened branch offices in the mid-west, those offices would start at 8am to be on a similar time schedule as their East Coast headquarters. 

Then the idea of a paid lunch hour soon started going by the wayside so to get off at 5pm, you had to start at 8am.  Then the concept of extended days with alernate Friday's off or half Friday's became extremely popular in the 1990's which meant to get in 9 hours, you started at 7 and worked till 4:30 or 5 depending on how long your unpaid lunch hour was. 

For the last 18 years, I've started my work day anywhere from around 7am to 8am.  I've never had a 9 to 5 job.  Other than law firms or financial, I really don't know of other industries where 9 to 5 is a normal schedule in the US. 

When I travel to other offices, even our east coast locations, if I arrive a 7am, I'm turning on the lights.  When I worked in Perth Australia, they thought I was crazy for coming in at 7am. But they were also ready to shoot me if  suggested a "company paid working lunch" or expected someone to take a conference call with another country at 5pm. 

But like I said, my theory is the timezones and that most companies originally started out headquartered on the east coast.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: #borecore on March 20, 2012, 05:28:28 PM
U.S. here in an office where people start all hours of the day and night. I usually work 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., today I'm 9-5:30. I worked 4 p.m-midnight or 5:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. for most of my time here.

Our final meeting of the day attended by higher-ups (all salaried; I'm paid hourly) starts at 5 and they usually leave after that plus wrapping up any business they have left for the day.

Most professional offices I know keep hours that include some or all of the time between 8 and 6. Most shops seem to be open a few hours after that (and might open starting at 9 or 10).
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Dazi on March 20, 2012, 07:16:45 PM
US here.   

I have worked jobs with some crazy schedules. 

1st real job shifts for fulltime and salaried employees were 4am-1pm, 5am-2pm, 6am-3pm, 8am-5pm, 12pm-8pm, 3pm-11pm, 4pm-midnight, 11pm-7am.  Business was open from 7am-11pm, your hours depended on what position you where working.

Tourist job, hours were from 6am until people stopped buying stuff.  It sounds crappy, but I made excellent money and met a lot of really great people.

Current job.  The hours are flexible depending on what you do.  I think the earliest is 7am and the lastest may be 5:30 or 6pm.  Most people show up at 8am and leave before 5pm.  There is a schedule, but honestly, company is very accommodating.  There are 2 paid breaks and a non-paid 1hour lunch.

As far as school goes, it's schedule/school year is really to accommodate the for the heat here.  I am in Florida and school runs from the mid/last week of August to maybe the last week of May or first week of June.  Highschool starts at 7:30 and ends around 2:45, I am not sure about the others. 

I know when I was in middle school it didn't end until 4:30.  I think it was changed because too many kids were getting sick (heat exhaustion/heat stroke) in PE when they had it the last 2 periods of the day. You can't expect anyone to run track at 4pm in 100F/90% humidity, with no easily assessable water and not pass out.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Isometric on March 20, 2012, 07:20:54 PM
Australia here.

I work 9 - 4.30, but most common for office jobs is 9-5, with half hour break, or 8.30-5 with hour break.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Thipu1 on March 21, 2012, 09:45:36 AM
In office and library jobs, I've always had a 9 to 5 working schedule with an hour for lunch. 

In the library, you could come in earlier and leave earlier.  The only stipulation was that you had to be there while the library was open and make your hours. This would have been from 9 to 4:30. 
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: FauxFoodist on March 25, 2012, 02:09:34 AM
I work in a hospital in CA.  In my department on the inpatient side, shifts are 8-, 10- or 12-hrs (12 hours on weekends and holidays) and will start as early as 6am.  Inpatient areas are around-the-clock care so I know the nurses will often work 12-hr shifts.  I work in administration so shift hours are typically 8am-4:30pm or 8:30am-5pm (office hours are 8am-5pm).  I attend a meeting three days a week at 7:15am so I was allowed to change my hours to 7am-3:30pm (I started out with those hours then my evil former supervisor arbitrarily changed them to 8am-4:30pm when evil coworker complained that I shouldn't get those hours; shortly after I was transferred to normal human being supervisor, I volunteered to start doing the minutes for those morning meetings specifically because I knew it would result in getting my hours changed back to the earlier time).  It sucks sometimes having to be up so early, but I love being off by 3:30pm (fringe benefit is I know it rankles evil coworker, but there's nothing she can do about it now, ha ha ha).  I am able to get so much done after work as a result of being off by 3:30pm and not have the whole rest of my afternoon/evening gone by the time I am done.  I also get a lot of peace and quiet that first hour because most of the other employees in administration don't come in until about 8-8:30am.

Other places I've worked have usually had shifts start at 8am.  I don't think for a day shift, I've ever had to work past 5pm (when I worked a swing shift, my hours were 3-11:30pm).  One place where I worked (phone company) had really odd, around-the-clock shifts that included split shifts (12-hours shifts where you worked a few hours in the morning then were off a few hours and worked a few hours at night so having eight hours worked and being off four hours in a 12-hour time span).
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: afbluebelle on April 18, 2012, 11:53:28 PM
American here :waves:

Do other countries have as many businesses open 24/7 as we do in America? More? Less? In most areas I've lived in, you can find a fast food place, diner type place, gas station, and a Wal-Mart/grocery store type place that are open all hours of the day.

As a dedicated shift worker, I make it a point to learn these things (there is a rumor in the squadron that I'm half vampire >:D )
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Isometric on April 19, 2012, 12:10:36 AM
American here :waves:

Do other countries have as many businesses open 24/7 as we do in America? More? Less? In most areas I've lived in, you can find a fast food place, diner type place, gas station, and a Wal-Mart/grocery store type place that are open all hours of the day.

As a dedicated shift worker, I make it a point to learn these things (there is a rumor in the squadron that I'm half vampire >:D )

Australian :waves back:

I'd say overall, they're less common.

You can find fairly easily a 24 hr gas/petrol station, and fast food. And a convenience store (7/11 type) or chemist/drug store if you're lucky. In the nightlife areas these will be more common.

In my experience, I've never seen a Walmart type store open 24/7.
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Ereine on April 19, 2012, 12:12:41 AM
In Finland there's been a slow change to 24/7 places in recent years, though so far in my town it's only a few gas stations and a McDonald's. But smaller grocery stores are staying open later and later. It used to be that they closed at 9 pm, now it's not uncommon to have them open until 10 or even 11. And a few years ago stores were allowed to be open on Sundays all year round, before it was only during summer and before Christmas.

At my current job I start at 8.30 and I think that it's a bit late, many people start at 8. I work at a very small company and have some flexibility with my hours but the nature of the work requires that I'm there quite early because we often have deadlines at noon so mornings are our busiest times. I have about half an hour for luch but nobody monitors it, it's as long as it takes me to eat. When I take my lunch depends on our clients, though the deadlines are at noon often I won't get approval from them until 1 so I won't be able to eat before that. I could also take breaks at other times but usually don't. I stop working at 4.30, one of the best things about my work is that working overtime is very rare, though I'll do it if I need to (and then get to take the time off).
Title: Re: working hours/ schedules in general
Post by: Lynn2000 on April 19, 2012, 12:59:26 AM
Fascinating thread! US here. "9 to 5" is, as PP have said, cultural shorthand for working a fulltime "normal hours" job here, but obviously things like shops, restaurants, and movie theaters (not to mention 24-hour places) have to be open different hours, or longer hours, or they wouldn't get any business (as all their potential customers would still be at work). I remember when I was younger there was a lot of rushing around after my parents got off work, to get shopping done by 6pm, as stores would often close then--but now it seems like places are open until 8pm or 9pm most days of the week. Again, just a couple decades ago, it seemed like the outside world was dead before 10am, and driving around town on a school day morning was akin to witnessing the aftermath of some apocalypse. But now many things open at 9am or even earlier.

I think in general people have a much wider variety of hours and schedules now, meaning that businesses have to be open longer hours to "catch" them. I also think that now people often have very long commutes--there are "bedroom communities" where people have their houses, but every day some huge percentage of the residents commute to nearby large cities to work and even shop. ( has info about the percentage of commuters in different cities now.) Finding that your new job has a commute of less than an hour (like ONLY 45min) is often worthy of celebration--and longer than an hour is okay, too, if it's public transportation so you can "get stuff done" while riding to work. And then some people have to get up at special times in order to catch the bus, because some routes only hit certain places every 30min or something like that.

I don't know if this is true in other countries, but my understanding is that the school schedule in the US is historically very dependent on the agricultural industry, which was/is huge across large swaths of the country. It's the reason children in the US did not historically go to school in the summer, because that's the busiest time on a farm and children were needed to help out there. Farmers and other outside laborers often start the day as soon as it's light out, so that could account for the early start school seems to have sometimes; and school ending in early to mid afternoon, when there's still a few hours of light, would allow the kids time to help with afterschool chores on the farm. Historically, I believe kids went to school fewer hours during the winter, so they weren't heading off/coming home in the dark; this came in once the school days were standardized across seasons. And in places that had especially harsh winters, there would often be a "winter break" of a month or more in the dead of winter (kind of like a lot of colleges have now between fall and spring semesters) because of the difficult logistics of schooling then--transporting kids in the dark and in bad weather, heating and lighting the schoolhouses, etc..

My point is, I believe the farming schedule drove a lot of the school schedule in the US, and the school schedule drove a lot of other schedules, especially as the parents moved away from farming (where to an extent you set your own hours) and into jobs that required more standardized hours. I also like the idea of businesses trying to overlap with the "head office" on the East Coast--that makes sense to me, too.

camlan was right about the school buses, too. Especially in rural areas, where several small towns feed kids into one school in one town, kids can be on a bus for an hour or more. The big yellow school bus, FYI, is not like a city bus, which will circle the same route all day--if you miss the school bus's single pass by your house/stop, that means Mom or Dad has to take time from their day to drive you directly to school, and they are not happy about that! (Er, IME...) In larger cities, though, I think the city bus routes are often set up to drop students (at least teenagers on up) at their schools, so they probably could catch the next bus and not be late, if it runs often enough.