As a former employee of Cahners I remember those days, but only vaguely. I made it routine even then to go into the office on Sundays, to catch up on all the stuff that I had put off during the week. I've always thought that a four-day (ten hours a day) week would be fabulous, but that's only possible if you work 40 hours to begin with.
Must disagree. Being your own boss is the best anyone could hope for.
It's also nice to have a salaried outside job where you put in some extra time every day, spend a few minutes of your lunch hour eating a small snack at your desk but occasionally taking time off for an extra-long lunch with your colleagues, and having the freedom for those doctor/dentist visits without having to account for the hours, or leaving work early to attend a music festival. Having a boss that does NOT count minutes of working time is great.
I, like the author of this post and many others out there, work from home. We are currently house hunting and have made an office in a separate location from the main house -- be it in the basement, a space over the garage or entirely separate apartment -- a priority for the reasons you note. As I sit now, in what many would consider main floor living space, the lines between work and life often blur.
When you consider your productivity compared with even five to ten years ago, you realize that you're producing far more per hour than you once did. But you're still working more hours. What happened? It's called global competition, business downturns, business upturns, and so on.
This all falls under increased productivity, and leaving aside the global competition aspects, it's instrumental to keep the economy growing. Which keeps your investments growing, hopefully assuring you a viable retirement package. If this were not occurring, it's hard to fathom how the economy would be able to support so many more people in retirement now, for the amount in the work force.
Some stats. In 1950, the US Social Security system had to support one retiree with the revenues from 5.1 workers. In 2005, there were only 3.3 workers supporting one retiree. The projection for 2020 is 2.6, and it keeps falling over the years.
So, one unavoidable mechanism, to make this possible, is that each worker must contribute more to the economy. Productivity.
As to working hours, depending on your job, that is not so easy to measure. Certainly, if you are a cashier, or a receptionist, medical practitioner, or any job that deals directly with customers, it's probably easy enough to measure your working hours. Not quite the same for researchers, for example, not to mention school teachers.
The office environment also makes a difference in productivity, which is probably hard to measure. For instance, this much-hyped "open space" type of environment is one sure way of making concentration more difficult, and productivity lower in jobs that require concentration.
I'm always skeptical about these x-hour work week discussions. I'm fairly positive that being glued to your office chair for "40 hours a week" doesn't translate to work being done. If all else remains equal, reducing the work week to 35 hours would reduce productivity, and increasing to 45 hours would increase productivity. However all else is almost never equal. Some days I get a whole lot done, other days, for any number of reasons, less so. Surely it's not just me.
So why do management types get nice quiet offices when the engineers and editors who do all the thinking get dumped into a noisy cubeville?
When I worked in a office, last, there was this sales guy who was so loud that even when we both had (adjacent) offices with walls, I had to relocate to a conference room when I needed to think. His voice came right through the walls. He had this DJ kind of voice. I'm convinced that he really wanted to be a sportscaster but ended up selling ads.
In the previous two buildings, we both had cubes.
Now I work at home and about all I hear is my neighbor's little dog yapping away.
Martin wrote "Sure, we always work extra hours when a project is due, but do you work extra hours all the time? Do you work at night from home, perhaps after the kids are asleep?"
Yes, it has always been the norm that everyone on the team goes into overdrive in the later stages of a project, to make sure everything gets done on schedule. Late nights, weekends, checking and launching jobs from home using the VPN. It was like the sprint at the end of the marathon.
But something changed along the way. Project schedules got tighter, resources got fewer, and the amount of work to be done became more, not less. So it was no longer the sprint at the end of the marathon, it was just a neverending sprint.