Take care of your life so you can work

At work, we have a concept called Core Hours, introduced in a deck called 'Small Enterprise Company Collaboration Policy.' The deck was presented at a company-wide meeting. Here is an excerpt:

Core hours are put in place to minimize coordination costs associated with scheduling meetings and other collaboration while still maintaining flexibility for family and things like bing a 'morning' or 'night' person.

Core hours are 10:00 to 16:00. That's when everybody is expected to be in the office so that meetings can be scheduled cheaply. It is also expected that you are in the office for two hours outside of Core Hours. If you're not going to be in the office during Core Hours, you are to get permission from your supervisor and inform your team.

So far, so good. The Core Hours policy is quite nice and allows you to be very flexible with the hours that you work.

But you know how sometimes someone makes a really good point, then keeps talking and completely screws everything up?

Following the text in the deck, the presentation went on:

The vast majority of life happens outside of those six hours per day

Interesting statement. It's true though, if you're at work for six hours, you have 18 hours for other lifetime activities.

But wait, you said that it was required to be at work for two hours outside of core hours, so you're at work for eight hours and have 16 hours for other lifetime activities. Got it, but that statement was confusing.

It would be nice for everybody else if you could try to get life taken care of before/after Core Hours and on the weeekends

Get life taken care of? What's that supposed to mean? Is life some annoyance that just gets in the way of work? I'm not sure I get it, but I think I get it: you shouldn't be using your time at work to do personal things.

Most dentists schedule starting at 8:00 and until 18:00

Hmmm? That's a strangely specific thing to include in a Collaboration Policy deck and company-wide meeting. What about doctors? Mechanics? Tax attorneys? WHEN DO TAX ATTORNEYS SCHEDULE? HELP!

A day in the life

Since that was quite confusing, let's go through an average day in the life of an average employee of a small enterprise software company to see if we can figure out what 'the vast majority of life' is supposed to be. I'll use myself as a reference, because if you were to see me walking down the street with my clothes and company-branded swag, you'd correctly guess I was an average small enterprise software company employee.

I'll give a description of what I do in a typical day, followed by a time tracker and whether the time falls into the work or life bucket, as implied by the presentation.

00:00 - 8:30 - sleep
Since core hours officially do not start until 10:00, I can sleep in until way after the sun has come up. I have a one-hour commute, and need half an hour at most to get ready in the morning. Until I get out of bed at 8:30, I'm sleeping.

8:30 - 9:00 - prepare for work
I'll spend the morning getting ready for work. Breakfast, shower, news - all in good time, if available.

9:00 - 10:00 - commute to work
I walk to work. It takes just under an hour. I'll hear music, listen to a podcast, or give someone a call. My walk commute is very similar to the drive commute I had at my previous job. I'm out there with the cars, trying not to get hit and die. The main difference is that instead of a big hunk of metal, I have flesh that's easily rippable.

10:00 - 16:00 - Core Hours!
I'll be at work during Core Hours. I don't take care of any life in this time.

16:00 - 18:00 - keep working
Since I got in just before 10:00 and I'm expected to be physically present at work an additional two hours, I'll stay at work for two more hours. Since this is technically outside of core hours, I can choose to take care of life during this time if I so choose.

18:00 - 19:30 - stay to unlock free food
Whoo! Off work! Man, am I hungry. Given that it's now 18:00, and a reward for staying late at small enterprise software companies is food, I'll stay at work for another hour so I can get free dinner.

19:30 - 20:30 - commute home
When I've finished dinner, I'll head back home. Sometimes I will stay later, but not on an average day.

20:00 - 23:59 - free time! What I do from here gets a little bit less predictive. I can go out with friends, chill at home, play games - it's really up to me what happens now until I should go to bed so I'm not tired for work tomorrow. Assuming that I don't want to be too tired at work the next day, I'll make sure to get into bed by 00:00, falling asleep by latest 01:00 after my eyes go tired from looking at my phone.

Consolidating my day in a neat table yields the following:

Time Activity Bucket
8.5 hours Sleep Life
0.5 hours Get ready for work Life
2 hours Commuting Life
6 hours Work Core Hours
3.5 hours Work Life
3.5 hours Free time Life

According to the company presentation, 'the vast majority of life' includes sleep, getting ready for work, commuting, working around core hours, and whatever activity is taken on during free time.

Sounds about right, actually. 'The vast majority of life' includes pretty much everyting, including work.

Well, that's one way of looking at it. In a later post, I'll offer another way of looking at it, including a calculation of my real hourly wage.