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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ask the Boss

Q: How many hours a day and how many days a week

should employees work?


Margarita Gokun Silver, president, Global Coach Center:

The number of hours an employee works in a company or organization depends on many things. Some, of course, are obvious, such as the labor laws of a country, and others are more subtle. The latter could include the working culture of the country [Americans, for instance, work longer hours than their European counterparts]; the level of seniority [senior positions often require longer hours because of their level of responsibility]; the culture of the company itself; the nature of the job; or even the atmosphere at work. Thus, the answer to this question can never be clear cut. When considering whether or not to stay late at work, ask yourself these questions:

1. What do people of my rank usually do in my company on this issue?

2. What will I get out of staying late? For example, recognition, promotion, a raise, etc.

3. What is expected of me?

4. What will I sacrifice if I stay late? For example, family, fun, work or life balance, etc.

5. What is more important to me at this stage of my life -- my answers to question No. 2 or my answers to question No. 4?

"Answering these questions will help you figure out your priorities and decide what's best for you at that particular stage of your life."

Alex Shifrin, director, The Creative Factory:

I think that understanding of reasonable work hours depends on your industry. If you're in manufacturing, and you work to produce a certain quantity of goods, then you work the hours you're paid, as it's fairly precise as to what quantity of goods those hours will yield. If you're in the service sector, much of what you do is very subjective and largely intended to please a customer on the other end. You can't say that it takes exactly nine hours to make a client content, or something equally formulaic. With the service segment, you put in the time it takes to make your client walk away happy. Once that's achieved, you can punch out."

Luc Jones, partner, Antal International Russia/CIS:

In the corporate world, the key is not 'how many hours' someone puts in, but how effective they are in their work. Many people fail to make the distinction between what they have done, and what they have achieved -- it's not about 'being busy' but about getting results.

"If someone is not doing their job properly then no amount of overtime is ever going to help without guidance. I don't believe that overtime should be paid unless you are on an hourly rate -- i.e., in a factory or restaurant, or perhaps an audit firm or consultancy -- but rather, an employee's efforts should be reflected in bonuses, commissions and subsequent promotions.

"Overall though, my experience does show that people who put in more hours do tend to achieve better results. It is generally easier to help an enthusiastic and hard-working, but slightly misdirected person to be successful than someone who is happy to do the bare minimum. Common sense should dictate in most cases."

Vladimir Vinogradov, president, Pro Vision:

The business of public relations is based on communicating. PR agency employees have to constantly interact with both clients and journalists. The job graphic often depends on how well our clients and partners organize their working day. No matter how carefully our employees plan their working process, there is no way around working overtime in a PR agency. However, there are some positive aspects of this, like additional Christmas holidays."