Academic working hours

Recognising that I’m incredibly fortunate to be doing work that I (mostly) enjoy, I’m also seeking to find a better balance, ensuring I have time for friends, etc… The truism is true: nobody on their deathbed wishes they had spent more time at the office.

What was once vaguely containable in a 9-to-5 regime has expanded, so we must work evenings and weekends. We are trapped in a structurally embedded “long hours culture”, where hours in excess of the 48 stipulated in the European Union Working Time Directive have become normalised. Yet, while everybody grumbles and deplores, nobody seriously tries to do anything about it. A young female lecturer of my acquaintance who tried to keep her weekends free was told by her dean that she could not expect promotion if she took that attitude. And it is a sad truth that many academics are workaholics, literally addicted, as managers trying to remove some tasks from them have witnessed.

As Pete Phillips recently told us at #cnmac11, we need to take time out to think creatively:

These thoughts are echoed in this article:

We need to turn our backs on what feminist scholar Cynthia Cockburn has called “heroic masculinity”, admitting that as human beings we need time “to stand and stare”. We need to raise the value of part-time work and job-sharing and, as T.S. Eliot said, “redeem the time”.

Read full story, and let’s remind ourselves of what Henry Ford said:

“It’s that man down the corridor,” he explained.

“Every time I go by his office he’s just sitting there with his feet on his desk. He’s wasting your money.”

“That man,” replied Ford, “once had an idea that saved us millions of dollars. At the time, I believe his feet were planted right where they are now.”

By admin

Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst  (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.

2 replies on “Academic working hours”

Thank you for this, love the Henry Ford story. I’ve been thinking for a while that we need to get to the point of making Prayer and Creativity part of Job Description any contract we use as a church.

To allow our teams to be creative and pray and not feel that they ‘should be getting on with real work’.

We need time to breathe!

Thanks for taking the time to comment Steve. I have also used the technology to ensure I get out and run tonight – about to blog about that. I’ve never been good at sitting still, but I’m trying to find ways to do it, and allow space to do that stuff that only the creative side of my brain can do!

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