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Author Topic: working hours/ schedules in general  (Read 15770 times)

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working hours/ schedules in general
« 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.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2012, 03:54:52 AM by saki »


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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #1 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.


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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #2 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.


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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #3 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.

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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2012, 06:55:51 AM »
Im in the UK too and Im Scandinavian. Agree that the UK is late and Im not quite used to it. At a previous work place I had a colleague who would regularly start at 10.30! Thats 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?


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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #5 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.
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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #6 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.  :)
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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #7 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?


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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #8 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.


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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #9 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).  :/
« Last Edit: March 20, 2012, 11:04:11 AM by WhiteTigerCub »


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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #10 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.

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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #11 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.


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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #12 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. 

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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #13 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.
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Re: working hours/ schedules in general
« Reply #14 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.

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