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Work: How the obsession with work is making our lives bitter?

More and more extensive work days, changing schedules and incompatible with the rest of the environment and difficulty of digital disconnection. Enjoying leisure time in company has become too complicated.

'Working Hours' - Image Credits: Flickr

I am not a person from Monday to Friday. The mantra is repeated non-stop in conversations between friends, family and colleagues to state that in the days it is time to work, there is hardly time for anything else.

Work schedules blurred, with one last e-mail sent from the sofa and the first of the day answered with eyes still glued.

And job offers that demand  impossible availability  and urge to always be ready on the starting line, accepted with a stunning naturalness by companies and consumers in the wake of the crisis - the image of the Uber Eats dealer  between barricades in flames in the center of the riots in Barcelona to deliver a dinner at home pays a good bill.

Arriving at home at noon without time to attend to the children (if they have one ), to the couple (if they have arrived) or to stay for a drink with friends (if they still live in the neighborhood ) is assumed as normal.

Although the 40-hour workday has been maintained for a century, there are profound changes. The tendency in the last 20 years has consisted of a greater centrality of labor in the lives of people.

This change has occurred mainly in women, who have made a great investment in education and in time dedicated to their career. It is not only that they have entered work significantly and have increased hours dedicated to paid work, but that the subjectivity of women has also changed.

From a subjectivity linked to the domestic-family to a work-centered one, even though they are also responsible for domestic work and care.

The profession has come to be considered by many people not only a status symbol, but an important aspect of personality, a sign of identity, as Derek Thompson puts it in The Atlantic.

A culture of dedication, being busy (or looking like it) and self-exploitation that, despite being revered by Elon Musk's pupils - who says that working 80 hours a week is the key to success - you know that takes its toll on health: WHO has recognized the burnout syndrome in its list of ailments.

Endless schedules and incompatible agendas

Digitization has brought good things, such as teleworking and the possibility of making schedules more flexible. But also traps, such as the difficulty of digital disconnection - in Spain this right is already regulated by law.

Employment, increasingly precarious, with low salaries and a number of overtime hours which in a year has increased by 13.1%, bets on the temporary and outsourced orders s 42% of Spaniards [ who is looking for a job] is looking for a flexible job because he can't find a permanent one.

Services are demanded by local consumers and tourists with increasing immediacy and wider availability. And as a result, jobs from Monday to Friday and during office hours begin to be less common while work on the weekend grows to maximum (5.83 million people work two Saturdays or more per month, according to INE data).

The peculiarity of Spanish schedules also adds difficulties when it comes to reconciling personal life and trying to combine it with that of others. In Spain we have a way of distributing time that harms us.

The two-hour lunches, the prime television time at 10.45pm with programs that are audience leaders and end at two in the morning Casero stresses that despite the uniqueness of each type of employment, the transformation is evident.

This is no longer responding to the three-eight model (eight hours of rest, eight hours of work and eight free time).Here we work 200 hours more on average than countries like Germany or France and yet we are in line in productivity.

We cannot afford as a country to have 35% of the people working after seven in the afternoon - to which to finish off we must add the transfer time in the big cities. Either you are working too hard, or the chair is getting warmer. We have to look at what we do wrong, what makes us different from other countries that end at four or five and make life.

Some companies are already starting to change, looking for more flexible schedules and formulas. The worker highly values that flexibility of entry and exit and teleworking, provided that this is in an agreed and regulated manner, with the right to disconnection and availability for what is really urgent.

Spain in the European context (Ed. Pyramid). The presentism is very entrenched here, the 'I stay in case they need me'. When it has been seen that, in companies, the performance model by objectives is really useful and that the workers who are happy are the ones who are there when the call is due and if they are not doing well in the job, they give up much less.

Regarding the recently adopted measure of having to sign the entry and exit into the workplace, Fernández-Crehuet believes that it can be a 'double-edged sword'. It is good that overtime is paid, but responds to a corseting what goes against this same flexibility and work for objectives that we see that works.

Little free time for Men (even less for Women)

In the conciliation they influence mainly the politics and the culture of the bosses, who are the ones who set the pace. If meetings are held at 8pm, the rhythm of many families is disrupted. The step to conciliation has to be a global act, a thing for everyone. People are tired of this effort we are making.

A conciliation that all the experts interviewed remember that it affects more women, who have traditionally carried the added responsibility of domestic work and care for children and the elderly. And to people with less economic resources, who cannot afford to outsource them.

Spain, according to Eurostat is the fourth worst country in Europe for conciliation. The INE survey says that the difference in work dedication (not gap) between men and women is 15% and, however, the difference in time spent in conciliation for care is 75%.

Women have always been those who have reconciled and joined the market, it is men who have not been able to enter the house to work and take responsibility.

If the total hours of the day are subtracted from that work time, domestic work and care, we get what we understand by free time or time for us. When those days were stipulated in which eight hours a day would be devoted to free time, for women it was not such as the time required for domestic and care work was not taken into account.

That real free time is beginning to claim more and more. There is an interesting tendency of women who claim that time of their own, for them that men have had to a greater extent. Although, according to Arroyo, for women, this free time is more difficult to identify because sometimes, such as playing time with children, it becomes taking care of others.

The links weaken

The market also comes into play, which expropriates that free time by offering products designed for people to spend connected time consuming content individually, emphasizes the sociologist. This helps weaken strong bonds.

That time I could spend with other people I spend connected, technology mediates the relationship and if a person is not seen in a long time, the relationship is weakened - although it can also have the opposite effect with relationships that have a weak bond since technologies allow maintaining the relationship over time.

It would be interesting to use that little time in activities that promote emancipation and that empower socially.

Stay with your friends

It's complicated, but you have to try. Taking out moments throughout the week to see each other, have a drink, have a conversation or do some activity with friends is key to not falling into the well.

These relationships affect our emotional well-being at three levels, explains Alejandro Muñoz, psychologist and director of the Clinic. Affective: we need to see, smell and feel people.

Emotional: people with difficulty staying with others feel lonelier, physically deteriorate and their circadian (sleep) rhythms and metabolism are changed. And at the symbolic level: it is important to maintain the community, which should not be confused with followers and friends in networks.

The psychologist says that the distortion of these levels causes many people to go to the office with a feeling of emptiness that they do not know very well what to attribute. His conclusion is emphatic: We need a group of people with whom we see more or less continuity, exchange affections and complicity. If not, we become cannon fodder for depression.

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