Do People Really Work 80 Hour Weeks?

Is it really that common for people to work 70 or 80-hour weeks?

I hear this claim made a lot but I’m skeptical. Are these people full of it? Do they do some kind of ‘creative accounting’ when they figure the amount of hours they work?? Are they actually PRODUCTIVE while working that many hours???

Can’t say I do so on a regular basis, but I’ve definitely had some weeks that I’ve worked double time.

I’m a computer programmer, and when I’ve got a deadline on a critical time-sensitive project, I can easily find myself working till 1AM every day for a week to get it done.

Yes, depends on what you do for a living. For example, doctors, clinical psychologists, programmers, etc. can have very long work weeks.

All I know is everyone in my higher headquarters claims to work 60-plus hour weeks all the time, but you can’t get anyone on the phone after 3:30.

The attorneys I worked for routinely put in 70-80 hour work weeks early in their careers. If they didnt bill for that amount of work their chances of making partner were practically nil.

Our management here typically does 60-70 hour weeks, and given the pure ambition most of these guys display, I can believe it.

On the other end of the spectrum, during good times when overtime is freely available, it’s not uncommon for some of our union designers to pull 90-100 hour weeks (time-and-a-half over 40, double-time on Sundays). I’m not saying they actually work that much, but they are on the clock.

Between my two jobs, I routinely work 80-hour weeks. (At least 50 at my full-time job, 30 at my part-time.) Granted, I’m only doing it because I’ll probably get laid off from my full-time job in the not-too-distant future, but compared to the stresses of college, this is a breeze.

To answer the OP, I can’t vouch for everyone else, but I manage to still be fully productive with this kind of schedule. I don’t sleep much, but I’m making enough moolah so that unemployment + part-time work won’t hurt quite so badly.

I’ve done it, but true 80 hour weeks are rare. My experience is that my effectiveness drops off rapidly after about 55 hours in a week, and if you work 7 days a week you’re worse off still.

I guess that depends at least partly on what you’re doing at work.

My wife would pull 80 hour weeks with regularity from November to March… the busy time in the Oil and Gas patch. This year she only did about 60 hour weeks though… She took only 1 full day off from Oct-Jan last year.

People do put in that kind of time at work, but for most it is a temporary thing, usually either just to make the big bucks for a while then take 3 months vacation, or to prove themselves to a company in order to advance. Very few people work 80+ hours a week for 40 years straight… them that do are known as workaholics.

It also depends on your trade and location. Farmers will work basically from dawn to dusk and more since they have to get in a full year’s work in the 4-8 months growing season they have (dependant on location of course), then spend the winter sharpening blades, oiling machinery, and bragging to all their buddies how much they made last year. Tradesmen who go out on location to remote places work 7-10 12-hour days,then have the next 7-10 days free when they’re shipped back out… multiple variations there too. Some consultants will do a contract that lasts 3 months, and work 12-16 hours a day for the whole time, and then not work again for a month.

So for most people it ends up evening out over time; those who do put in that much time on an on-going basis (years on end) are either nuts or are in a very competitive industry.

Doctors in training are limited to working 80 hours per week, and many programs have real trouble meeting that requirement. Of course, working a 36 hour shift every 3rd-4th day racks up the hours. And, yes, sometimes they do sleep while on overnight call, but that is never guaranteed.

Docs in private practice will often work very long hours, 50-60/week at their office(s) and time at the hospital on top of that.

I worked several 70- and 75-hour weeks while I was doing tech support for a bank several years back. The worst was during server upgrades and department-wide hardware upgrades, when we’d work until 12:00 or 1:00 at night and then be back in at 7:00 the next morning to be ready for the first problems as the early birds started arriving. We’d solve problems all day with what we had done the night before, then at about 6:00 or so start upgrading the next department on the floor.

Oh, and I was in grad school at the time, to boot.

For the first two years of owning my own business I did 80+ hours a week, every week. I was productive and able to do the things I needed to do, but after the first year and definitely towards the end of the second I found that I got tired more quickly, got sick more easily and was sicker than “normal.”

I closed my business two years ago, and now have a 40 hour work week. Much better. The ulcer hardly acts up anymore.

For most of my life both my parents–especially my mother–have circulated between 60 and 80 hour weeks: she’s an accountant and a perfectionist. Now that she is in her mid-50s she is starting to feel it more ,and is finally noticeing that this simply isn’t normal.

I was 15 or 16 before I realized that most people take Sat off–I always though that was one of those TV conventions that have little to do with real life.

Yeah, I’ve done it before; I had a job where we just had to work at a task until it was done, sometimes this would take a ten-hour shift, sometimes it would take a few days (in which case we would sometimes catch an hour or two’s nap in there somewhere). After a really long shift, we’d get a day off, but then come back and do it all again.

For the last 8 months, I’ve been working two jobs, averaging about 60 hours a week. Sometimes it’d be much higher. It sucked.

Now I’ve quit both of those, and I’m starting a new job with a 7 on/7 off schedule. I’ll be working 7 10-hour days in a row, followed by 7 days off. Thus I get 70 hours per pay period, but they pay me for 80. I’m very much looking forward to it.

Just before we RTM a major Office release, I easily log 80 hours in a week, and so does everybody else. We’ll work every weekend and even sleep at the office for a few days towards the very end. Yes, my wife knows what “RTM” means. :slight_smile:

I should add that although MS has a reputation for it, most programmers I know have a similar schedule. I see cmkeller has the same routine at crunch time.

The Washington Post or Wall Street Journal ran a story on this about 10 years ago, in which a group of reporters traced about a dozen people each of whom adamantly claimed to put in 75-90 hour work weeks. This included a couple of attorneys shooting for partnership, a hospital intern, a couple of small business owners, etc. Each was followed in the normal work weeks and careful work logs were regarded.

As it turns out, none worked anything close to the numbers of hours they claimed. Instead of, say, working TRUE 75 hour weeks, most were found to work something in the 55-60 hour range. This even applied to the attorneys, who were billing an incredible number of hours.

Not saying it doesn’t happen, but it happens far less than most people claim. When I worked in the financial sector (first as an intern, then later as a senior partner before striking out on my own), I routinely claimed to work 90 hour weeks. After I resigned, one of the executive assistant’s told me that she once figured I was really putting in around 65 hours.

This site claims that people overestimate how much time they spend at work.

I work for a large US investment bank in the corporate finance division. Last week I arrived in the office at 9.00am on Monday. I didn’t leave the office until 2.00am on Tuesday morning. I was back in the office (after a 45 minute commute each way) at 9.00am on Tuesday. I didn’t leave the office until Wednesday afternoon at 12.30pm. A pitch book had been screwed up and needed to be reworked. Luckily, I didn’t need to be in the office until Thursday at 9.00am. Thursday was reasonable and I got out at 11.00pm. On Friday, I got in at nine and was told that I would be working all weekend. I left at 9.00pm (yipee) on Friday and arrived back in the office at 8.00am on Saturday. I worked until 10.00pm last night without going home on Saturday evening. I slept for about an hour on the floor in the bathroom.
I was in this morning at 9.00am.

Feeling a little tired.

Total hours last week= 108 1/2 hours.

I have a lot of friends in investment banking at my level (analyst). That is an above average workload for a week but it is by no means unheard of.

It is unusual for anyone of my level to leave the office before 10.00pm even if they have nothing to do. It’s ridiculous but these idiot investment bankers always expect everyone to look as though they are putting in 110%, even if it is a complete waste of time. I also expect to work at least one day on weekends.

As for taking holiday - ha? In my dreams…