Canadians: Working Harder and Longer?

I am sitting in an apartment twenty-three floors above the city streets of Taipei, Taiwan. It is a city that never sleeps. Most businesses are street level with families who work the business living above. The traffic never stops. The hustle and bustle at 2:00 am is amazing.

What is happening? Everyone is in a hurry. They are taxied from one place to another, and while on route they are making and receiving calls on their Blackberry. There is not a minute to waste, and they don’t. E-mails are being downloaded as they gulp down a quick lunch.

What a blessing technology is, eh? You can have your cake and eat it at the same time. Now you can be accessed wherever you are, whenever people want to get a hold of you.

While writing this article a friend Skyped me from Puerto Escondito, Mexico: I can’t fool him, he knows I am on-line. One-half hour later, and I am back to writing this article. I am grateful for the opportunity to talk with him, but I will have to finish my assignment in Hong Kong.

Ever wonder where the time went? I can remember having time to lie on the lawn and look at the sunset. Well, enough said, you can remember too. We all remember the time when you could tell Sunday from Monday. I hear the ice is coming off the lakes: I can’t wait to put my belly boat in the water, listen to the loons and catch a few whoppers.

A few days earlier, while reading an Internet site, I was attracted to the article entitled, “Longer days make for a drowsy US workforce.” The CBC site spoke about a Vancouver company who has put a perk for their employees in their facilities, nap rooms – “a room where you don’t have to be perky.” They have found people nodding off at work, and this provision had increased work efficiency.

Longer work days are causing workers to nod off at work. This may not be dangerous in some situations, but in other career paths, it could become critical. What if you are a surgeon? What if you are a 911 operator? Alright, what about that airline pilot who will be responsible to get me back to Canada? Now, I have my own attention.

CTV stats are clear: 29% of employees are nodding off or falling asleep at work; 20% have less interest in sex than sleep; an astounding 36% are nodding off while driving; and, 12% wind up late for work each month.

Sleep deprivation is affecting the productivity of our nation. And, instead of changing sleep habits, people are looking for chemical ways to stay awake. That is adding to the problem.

Even with all our technological advancements – microwaves, cells, computers, e-mail – our life is not getting simpler, but more complex. Now we can take our work home with us. Our life is wired to machines, and we live our life in nanoseconds, byte by byte. Everyone is supposed to be reachable, and if not, why not?

North Americans are sleeping 40 minutes less a night than required for good health, and working longer hours. A 33% of poll respondents said that they are working between 10-12 hours a day. 23% said they have to take work home with them. The era of 8-5 has disappeared.

National Sleep Foundation vice-chair Thomas J. Balkin [he must have to stay awake nights], says there comes a point when one simply cannot “catch up.” Studies show that habitually getting inadequate sleep – less than seven or eight hours of sleep each night – creates long-lasting changes to one’s ability to think and function well during the day.

Anyone ever heard of the Sabbath? It was mandated by God for man to work six days and rest the seventh. It was a time for reflection, meditation, worship, re-connection with family and friends.

Can you remember when most everything was closed Sunday except for emergency needs? The pace of living slowed, and people hit their personal refresh button. Oh, how that has changed!

For businesses to stay competitive, they opened Sundays. That meant that they had to hire more part-time people. Ultimately, that meant lower wages, two income families, and shift work. That has added to the dysfunction and breakdown of the family unit.

It’s time for everyone to take a weekly Sabbatical.

Work smart – take a good rest.

Would like to say more, but somebody has tracked me down in Hong Kong. They are sending a document via e-mail, and require an immediate response.

Got to go – wish I was fishing…..