Re: Average Hours Worked

Subject: Re: Average Hours Worked
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002 19:50:19 -0600

Dick Margulis wrote:

> I say both approaches should be abandoned. We are not in the tangible
> goods business. We are producing intangibles (and getting paid a heck of
> a lot more than most manufacturing employees, too). Our employers'
> customers, for the most part, are not buying our output by the page.
> (I'm sure there are exceptions.)
> The model that usually applies in the work we do is this: we contract to
> produce a specified deliverable by a particular date. Dates slip.
> Goalposts move. Stuff happens. We renegotiate. But still, this is the
> model. If we bite off more than we can chew in a forty-hour week, we
> work longer than forty hours. If we learn from this experience, we
> negotiate better the next time. If, over the long term, we contract to
> produce less than the guy in the next cube, we'll probably get paid less
> than the guy in the next cube--or he'll have a job and we won't. If he
> does it by working smarter than we do, more power to him. If he does it
> by working more hours, so be it. But it's all subjective and much too
> squishy to try to account for tech writing productivity the same way we
> measure a roofer's productivity.
> Hours schmours. Feh!

By that altruistic point of view, is it also fair for me to expect the
same salary if I get my week's work done in say, three days, and I can
spontaneously take a four-day weekend whenever possible? Sounds great to
me - but I doubt you'll get much corporate buy-in on this concept.

At the risk of sounding like one of those whiny types who always claims to
be oppressed by The Man, I do feel there's a double standard here. We are
expected to "pitch in and take one for the team," working extra hours
whenever the promised deliverable requires it, with no extra compensation.
But is it okay for us to work LESS hours, for the same compensation, as
long as we get our work done?

As my Magic Eight Ball says: "My sources say NO."

(NOTE: it IS okay if you're working on a project-based contract, I know,
but this thread has focused on salaried employees, and that's what I'm
talking about here.)

Sorry Dick, but for me it IS about hours, just as much as it is about
deliverables. Every employment agreement I've signed for a salaried
position has stated both the quantity of hours required of me, and when
those hours must occur (so I can't arbitrarily choose to work from
midnight to 8 AM). There's usually some terminology about being expected
to occasionally work overtime, and I have no problem with that. But when
it becomes the norm, I do have a problem, and something needs to change. I
don't think it's unreasonable to try to keep this employment agreement
from becoming too one-sided. After all, the agreement is supposed to be to
our MUTUAL benefit, isn't it?

Bottom line: none of the salaried agreements I've signed have said it's
okay to just put in 30 hours, as long as my work gets done. I wish they

So you can devote your life to The Almighty Deliverable, and say "Feh" all
you want. Me, I'll give the company an average of 40-45 hours a week, and
my stuff will get done, well enough to meet the company's needs and my own
standards. If it gets to the point where one of those goals is not being
met, there's a problem, and some things will need to change. It happens.
But if both the company and the worker are operating in good faith, some
solution can usually be found.

-Keith Cronin

I'd write more, but the tech writing union handbook says it's Break

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