Wellbeing organisation CABA has unearthed that 59 per cent of employees and managers admit that they work longer than their contracted hours and nearly three in ten of them (29 per cent) are working more than five additional hours per week.
Starting a business, of course, demands a commitment to hard work. If you enjoy the thought of working 80 hours a week and, let’s face it, who doesn’t, it may be worth setting up a cafe/wine bar like Jonathan Dupont, whose establishment Papilles is based near Old Street in London. ‘Coming from the hospitality industry, the long hours do not scare us. But starting your own business is something else!’ he says.
‘The long hours are also due to our opening times: 8am to 11pm five days a week,’ he explains. ‘We have two employees who both work an average of 45 to 50 hours per week.’
Dupont’s wife has kept her full time job in the wine trade, and comes every evening to run the wine bar with her husband. This means her hours are the same as his; proof that love conquers all hours God sends.
Hannah Duraid, founder of The Great Escape Game, has been trading for just over 18 months and has found even more hours in the day than Dupont, working 13 hour days, seven days a week – but loves the hard work. For the moment.
The business is growing though, and Duraid recognises that she and her business partner must take on a more strategical role, allowing them to ‘work on the business rather than in it’. Hence, the daily running of the site is currently delegated to an ‘increasingly strong’ team of 17.
From hard work to a life balance
After seeing for himself what extreme hard work can do to a person, Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder of virtual assistant platform Time Etc, feels like he has clawed back a work-life balance with some very careful planning.
This involves working only ten hours a day, five days a week. ‘I am very strict about what I spend my time on and have successfully formed a habit around delegation.
I pass over everything that I don’t absolutely have to do myself and hold onto a relatively small set of tasks that I feel I am best placed to handle. This gives me focus and means I don’t have to overwork to get everything done,’ Lashbrooke says.
It’s a far cry from when his company was in its start-up phase, when he worked seven days a week and longer hours but, importantly, he feels his performance as a CEO is substantially better since he became strict about his working hours and delegation.
Now, it’s more about being strictly efficient about how the hours are used. ‘If they are used efficiently and delegation happens, there is simply less need to pull all-nighters and work the weekends.’
In 2014, Julia Furley of JFH Law LLP took the same decision to cut working hours – but for all of her staff. She now actively encourages staff members to leave work within the timeframe of 9am-5:30pm in a bid to ensure that they are able to strike a good work-life balance.
She now works a four-day week to allow herself to spend time with her two babies. ‘There are of course times when I have to work longer hours or additional days, but I try to ensure that this does not become the norm.
‘By restricting my working hours in this way I have had to improve my working practices and make sure that the time I spend at work is used efficiently and effectively.’