Australia kinda sucks at work/life balance

Angus Kidman 16 January 2018 NEWS

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How much of your time do you spend working?

A survey of financial managers from around the world suggests that they're having a tough time of it. The study by a group of universities found that most chief financial officers (CFOs) spend two-thirds of their waking hours working, which is in no way the recipe for a healthy lifestyle.

However, those figures did show a lot of regional variation. CFOs in Germany are suffering the most, claiming to spend three-quarters (75%) of their waking hours working. The lowest percentage was for the UK, with a still fairly unpleasant 63% of non-sleep time on the job. Australia is somewhere in the middle, at 70% (the same figure as Mexico).

Let's be clear: this is not a statistic to be proud of. If you're working eight hours a day and sleeping eight hours a day, that still leaves you with 72 hours a week when you're doing neither. That means, in theory, you could spend 65% of your waking hours on non-work tasks. You're unlikely to ever hit that goal, but only spending 25% is unhealthy and dangerous.

The surveyed CFOs recognise that this is a problem. Most are typically working 70 hours a week but would prefer to be working 50 hours. That's still not great, but it would represent a big improvement if it happens.

Getting work/life balance right isn't easy. Previous research has shown that offering people a more flexible working environment doesn't necessarily result in them being measurably happier. That's not an excuse for businesses to return to old-fashioned slave-driving, but it is a reminder that ultimately each of us has to take responsibility for our own working habits.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

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