Weekend Poll Results: Assistants are Invested

… in your roles. For a third consecutive year, I posed questions to encourage readers to reflect on how much you work and whether there’s some balance between personal and business lives. With thanks to all who participated, here are your responses to my question: Are you a workaholic?

Fewer are identifying yourselves as workaholics

Some good news: more readers continue to identify as high performers (39%) or having reached a happy medium (37%) than the 18% of you who identify as workaholics. Six percent of respondents chose my somewhat tongue in cheek option, “What’s the difference?”

You’ll see some of these results and readers’ comments in Shelagh’s upcoming book

The percentage of respondents who self-identify as workaholics has declined each year I’ve asked this question, from 26% in 2017 to 22% in 2018 and 18% this year. What, though, do readers believe constitutes being a high performer or having achieved that happy medium? Read on.

But is there a true distinction between business and personal time?

When I posed a few questions about your responsiveness to emails away from the office, responses suggest significant readiness to be responsive during your personal time.

For example, 67% of respondents reported that you typically check email before leaving home in the morning; that’s up from 63% in 2018. What about working while you commute? A full 47% of respondents reported typically checking email or otherwise working during your commutes. Since many people drive to work and presumably don’t (shouldn’t) use smartphones or other devices while driving, so it’s quite possible that the percentage of assistants who use public transit and respond to email or work during their commutes is actually higher than 47%.

“… extra hours are expected with my current position — and those expectations were set when I was interviewing for the position”

What about your holiday time? More than half of all respondents (52%) reported that you typically check email while on holidays. Only 13% selected the “no” option, while another 35% reported that you check business emails during holidays only in special circumstances. What if you’re sick? A mere 14% of respondents reported that you don’t typically check business email when away from work due to health reasons. The majority, 61%, reported that you do typically check business email during such times, and another 25% reported doing so only in special circumstances.

“I love my job, but my job is only one part of my life, and I want to keep it that way!”

How long is your work day?

Sixteen percent of respondents reported typically spending eight hours or less in the office each day. Another 35% reported work days that are typically eight to nine hours, while 38% reported that your work days typically run nine to 10 hours a day. Do the math, and you’ll find 11% of respondents typically working more than 10 hours a day in the office.

“Have candid conversations regarding expectations”

Beyond this, 21% of respondents reported that you also work from home, outside office hours, daily. Thirty percent said you work from home outside office hours either rarely or never.

When I asked how many hours readers work from home or during their commutes during a typical week, 51% reported that spending two hours or less on such business activities. Six percent reported spending more than eight hours a week on business from home or during their commutes during a typical week, which is tantamount to adding another work day to your week.

“I make sure I am fully present when at work and when at home”

What’s the latest work day you’ve ever had?

Six percent of respondents reported that you make a point of arriving at the office before others, with half those people typically starting two or more hours before the rest of the crew. Seven percent of respondents have never worked later than 6:00 p.m., while a full 18% have worked until midnight or later.

“Self discipline as to where to draw the line between work and personal time”

How do you achieve a healthy approach?

It’s up to you – but you may want to check out the data below, for other assistants’ practices.

THE DATA

commuters-on-cell-phones2-courtesy-rawpixel-unsplash.jpg

Note: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options. In instances where more than one person offers similar responses to an open ended question, I typically cluster or edit/paraphrase such responses without intending to change intent of individual replies, rather than duplicating all of them.

1. Do you consider yourself a high performer or a workaholic? 

  • High performer: 39% of respondents, compared to 36% in 2018 and 48% in 2017
  • I’ve reached a happy medium: 37% of respondents, compared to 32% in 2018 and 21.5% in 2017
  • Workaholic: 18% of respondents, compared to 22% in 2018 and 26% in 2017
  • What’s the difference?: 6% of respondents, compared to 10% in 2018 and 4.5% in 2017

2. How frequently do you typically check and respond to business emails from home?

  • Never: 1% of respondents, compared to 6% in 2018 and 8% in 2017
  • Rarely: 17% of respondents, compared to 16% in 2018 and 17% in 2017
  • Daily: 42% of respondents, compared to 37% in 2018 and 42% in 2017
  • One day/night a week: 6% of respondents, compared to 3% in 2018 and 4% in 2017
  • Two days/nights a week: 7% of respondents, compared to 9% in both 2018 and 2017
  • Three days/nights a week: 1% of respondents, compared to 10% in 2018 and 2% in 2017
  • Four nights weekly: 10% of respondents, compared to 6% in 2018 and 2% in 2017
  • Five days/nights a week: 6% of respondents, compared to 6% in 2018 and 15% in 2017
  • Six days/nights a week: 8% of respondents, compared to 7% in 2018 and 2% in 2017
  • Note: 2% of respondents clicked on the “Click here to select from response” option

3. Do you typically check business email before departing home in the morning? (I posed this question for the first time in 2018)

  • Yes: 67% of respondents, compared to 63% in 2018
  • No: 33% of respondents, compared to 37% in 2018

4. Do you typically check email or otherwise work during your commute? (I posed this question for the first time in 2018)

  • Yes: 47% of respondents, compared to 39% in 2018
  • No: 53% of respondents, compared to 61% in 2018

5. Do you typically check business email during your holidays? (2019 is the first year I posed this question)

  • Yes: 52% of respondents
  • No: 13% of respondents
  • Only in special circumstances: 35% of respondents

6. Do you typically check business email when you’re away from work due to health reasons? (2019 is the first year I posed this question)

  • Yes: 61% of respondents
  • No: 14% of respondents
  • Only in special circumstances: 25% of respondents

7. How many hours do you typically spend in the office each day?  

  • 7 hours:  3% of respondents, compared to 4% in 2018 and 7% in 2017
  • 7 – 8 hours:  13% of respondents, compared to 15% in 2018 and 21% in 2017
  • 8 – 9 hours:  35% of respondents, compared to 40% in 2018 and 30% in 2017
  • 9 – 10 hours:  38% of respondents, compared to 29% in 2018 and 32% in 2017
  • 10 – 11 hours:  7% of respondents, compared ton 10% in 2018 and 22% in 2017
  • 11 – 12 hours:  1% of respondents, compared to 2% in 2018 and 5% in 2017
  • More than 12 hours:  3% of respondents, compared to 0% in both 2018 and 2017

8. How frequently do you work from home outside office hours? 

  • Never:  6% of respondents, compared to 6% in 2018 and 11.5% in 2017
  • Rarely:  24% of respondents, compared to 25% in 2018 and 17% in 2017
  • Once or twice a quarter: 13% of respondents, compared to 4% in 2018 and 15% in 2017
  • Almost daily:  21% of respondents, compared to 15% in 2018 and 27% in 2017
  • Once or twice a month:  10% of respondents, compared to 15% in 2018 and 6% in 2017
  • 3 – 5 days a month:  10% of respondents, compared to 12% in 2018 and 11.5% in 2017
  • 6 – 10 days a month:  10% of respondents, compared to 15% in 2018 and 0% in 2017
  • 11 to 15 days a month:  6% of respondents, compared to 8% in 2018 and 6% in 2017
  • Note: In 2017, 6% of respondents selected “Other” and offered comments.

9. If you work from home or during your commute, how many hours would this be during a typical week? (2019 is the first year I posed this question)

  • <1 hour:  29% of respondents
  • 1 – 2 hours:  22% of respondents
  • 2 – 3 hours:  21% of respondents
  • 3 – 5 hours:  12% of respondents
  • 6 – 7 hours:  10% of respondents
  • 8 – 10 hours:  3% of respondents
  • 11 – 15 hours:  3% of respondents
  • > 15 hours:  0% of respondents

10. How frequently do workload or events require that you work longer than the traditional work day? 

  • Never:  0% of respondents, compared to 0% in 2018 and 2% in 2017
  • Rarely:  11% of respondents, compared to18% in 2018 and 4% in 2017
  • Once or twice a quarter:  10% of respondents, compared to 13% in 2018 and 13% in 2017
  • Once or twice a year*:  5% of respondents, compared to 2% in 2018 and 2% in 2017
  • 1 – 2 days a month:  11% of respondents, compared to 12% in 2018 and 19% in 2017
  • 3 – 5 days a month*:  17% of respondents, compared to 18% in 2018 and 6% in 2017
  • 5 – 10 days a month*:  10% of respondents, compared to 12% in 2018 and 17% in 2017
  • 11 to 15 days a month:  8% of respondents, compared to 10% in both 2018 and 2017
  • Almost daily:  28% of respondents, compared to 15% in 2018 and 27% in 2017
  • *I made slight adjustments to these categories in 2018; they were previously “twice a year” and “6-10 days a month”

11. What’s the latest (rounded up to the next hour) you’ve ever worked in the evening? 

  • Instead of working late, I typically start 1 hr before others*: 3% of respondents (a new response option in 2019)
  • Instead of working late, I typically start 2+ hrs before others*: 3% of respondents (a new response option in 2019)
  • 5:00 PM:  1% of respondents (2019 is the first year I provided this response option)
  • 6:00 PM:  6% of respondents, compared to 14% in 2018 and 6% in 2017
  • 7:00 PM:  14% of respondents, compared to 5% in 2018 and 10% in 2017
  • 8:00 PM:  15% of respondents, compared to 14% in 2018 and 11% in 2017
  • 9:00 PM:  14% of respondents, compared to 17% in 2018 and 19% in 2017
  • 10:00 PM:  13% of respondents, compared to 14% in 2018 and 13% in 2017
  • 11:00PM:  8% of respondents, compared to 11% in 2018 and 10% in 2017
  • midnight:  10% of respondents, compared to 14% in 2018 and 7.5% in 2017
  • 1:00 AM:  3% of respondents, compared to 4% in both 2018 and 2017
  • 2:00 AM:  1% of respondents, compared to 4% in 2018 and 2% in 2017
  • 3:00 AM:  4% of respondents, compared to 73% in 2018 and .5% in 2017
  • Note: 5% of respondents clicked on the “Click here to select from response” option rather than selecting a time
  • * The new early morning response options at the top of this list replace “It’s not so much that I work late into the evening as much as that I start very early in the morning and work more than 10 hours”, which no respondents selected in 2018 but 10% selected in 2017

12. Which of these best describes the reason you typically work extra hours?

  • Workload, including unexpected projects/situations:  67% of respondents, compared to 61% in 2018 and 57% in 2017
  • Events:  25% of respondents, compared to 30% in 2018 and 22.5% in 2017
  • Meetings:  8% of respondents, compared to 9% in 2018 and 20.5% in 2017

13. Are you compensated for hours worked above and beyond the stated schedule?  

  • Yes, I’m financially compensated:  28% of respondents, compared to 20% in 2018 and 15% in 2017
  • Yes, I’m compensated in time off – and I take it:  26% of respondents, compared to 21% in 2018 and 18.5% in 2017
  • Yes, I’m compensated in time off – but don’t usually take that time:  15% of respondents, compared to 13% in 2018 and 18.5% in 2017
  • No:  31% of respondents, compared to 46% in 2018 and 48% in 2017

14. Special circumstances (surgery/accident, etc.) aside, how many sick days do you typically take in a given year? (2019 marks the first year I posed this question)

  • 0 days: 0% of respondents
  • 1 – 2 days: 57% of respondents
  • 3 – 5 days: 35% of respondents
  • 6 – 7 days: 4% of respondents
  • 8 – 10 days: 3% of respondents
  • 11 – 15 days: 1% of respondents

15. If you have what you consider a healthy balance between your home and business lives, and/or if you’ve made a concerted effort to achieve better balance, what are some of the steps you’ve taken?

  • I have been arriving earlier and leaving later in my new role to avoid adding an extra 45 minutes to my journey, so have recently joined a gym close to work – so now go for a swim before work instead of turning up an hour early, and joined an after work club to leave on time. I am definitely investing more time in myself than I have in previous years.
  • Self discipline as to where to draw the line between work and personal time. Rearrangement of working hours to avoid rush hour commutes and compressed hours, working 9 days out of 10.
  • Actually, my executive “discourages” overtime unless absolutely necessary so I walk out at my prescribed quitting time.
  • Candid conversations regarding expectations
  • I set the tone and precedent with my executives when I first started working for them about my life balance and how work fits into it: that my work informs and fits into my life, not the other way around, and that my family is always the highest priority. They get it completely and actually work to do the same themselves. They know exactly how to reach me in a truly emergent situation, though that has yet (to occur). I’m very fortunate.
  • Working for a small business, extra hours are expected with my current position — and those expectations were set when I was interviewing for the position. While I check my phone often in off hours/weekends, I do not typically have to work more than a couple (of) hours a week outside of office hours. A benefit is getting some leeway when it comes to time for personal appointments or care for my family/kids because I am flexible with the extra care/time needed for my job. I also have (the) flexibility of working from home — a huge perk. I feel I do have the right work/life balance — my fiancé, however, may not agree. He feels I need to cut back on work in off hours, so I do put down the phone more than I did in the past to keep harmony and it’s made me a better employee and mom/wife for my family, too.
  • Working on developing a better plan for coverage when I’m out and having a discussion with my executive on using and following that plan
  • Being upfront. Happy to work from home in urgent or emergency situations, and will acknowledge messages. Will not work from home on own time due to lack of communication or inefficient planning from my manager’s side.
  • Working outside the home is much better for me to ensure I maintain that separation, as it forces me to leave work at work and make that clear separation at quitting time each day. After working from home full time for a full year, and then transitioning to a brand new office environment which I have now been in for a full year, I can say with conviction that I much prefer working from a dedicated workplace vs. my home office, and this set up is much healthier for me personally and professionally. I do not check my work email on my mobile phone, and I purposely refuse to set up my work email on my phone so I can’t check. Once you’re doing that, you are done. It’s very hard to come back from that, in my opinion. I love my job, but my job is only one part of my life, and I want to keep it that way!
  • Planning! Review. Tag. Act. Toss. Open communication with team about OUR expectations.
  • Can access work from home only by bringing laptop home & logging on. No work mobile & personal devices not set up to access work. Simply made a deliberate choice to resist the pressure to change with this aspect of culture as it shifted. Incommunicado when on annual leave just as in the pre-internet days! Boss has my mobile number in case of emergency & has used it when absolutely necessary. His approach is that there should never be a reason to work out of hours if you are effective in 40hrs/week – if you are effective & putting in more, then the organisation has to review its resources. Working over masks the true resource needed. I am a perfectionist and extremely focused and productive when I work and do suffer from stress, so I need my downtime to be sacrosanct.
  • My manager and I agree on work priorities and allows me total freedom to choose to work from home for part of the day – or, when the office is not busy, I work from home for a full day. Saving commuting time is a huge bonus.
  • Having children changed my work life balance. Their after school activities require me to finish on time.
  • I work a longer than average working day in the office but don’t work when I get home.
  • I set the out of office on daily and only deal with anything that is VIP.
  • I have 4 weeks vacation each year so I try to take a day off every month and extend holidays. (I) spend 2 weeks camping each summer so I can recharge.
  • I leave work at work. (I) make sure I am fully present when at work and when at home.
  • After hours – glance to see if emails are emergency, then ignore if not. Or if it’s a yes/no reply I go ahead just to get it out of my inbox for next day. Email myself reminders so I don’t obsess at home. Recognize when I need to just go home. And remembering how refreshed I am when I make myself really be away. Note question 13: I’m salaried.
  • 1. To put my family first as this was a big mistake I overlooked in my previous job. 2. To ensure that my health and that of my family is a priority and, never work from the hospital again as my health and that of my family is paramount. 3. Ensure I have other sources of income 4. Make time to be there for my son’s school activities and spend quality time discussing with and listening to him; he is a wise 3yr old child 😎 5. Ensure my work is delivered on time and of good quality … I take time to read and do my work before submitting (it), so as to prevent requests for the work to be redone at a time that may creep into my family time.
  • Go home on time at least twice a week.
  • I work out of hours (by) choice, I enjoy working and find that answering the odd email in the evening or at weekends just makes the day shift easier. I still enjoy a social life outside of work and at those times I won’t answer emails. However, if I’m just at home watching the tv or pottering I’m happy to be contacted – beauty of work emails to my mobile device, I guess! I take two weeks off each year for a beach holiday where I switch off everything and my colleagues know they can’t contact me – I find this recharges my batteries.
  • Family is always top priority. So I will adjust my work schedule or request assistance from coworkers when necessary to avoid (as much as possible) burning the candle at both ends.
  • Don’t answer emails after 9:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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