I don’t know what I expected to see when I posted yesterday’s poll about people’s work schedules, but I didn’t expect to find this. With over 250 responses, fewer than half of our respondents said they work a standard 8-5 Monday-Friday schedule.
It’s possible that Cognitive Daily’s readership isn’t representative of the population at large (we’ve got a disproportionate number of students), but based on our sample, 52 percent of people don’t work 8-5 every day. Using the poll results, it’s easy to calculate how many people we expect to see out and about during the workweek. At any given time during “official” working hours, 29 percent of CogDaily readers aren’t actually working.
That’s not even counting a variety of other reasons people might not be in a cubicle, office, or other work location. We asked respondents not to count lunch and other breaks. People also might be out of the office on a business trip or to meet a client. They might be on vacation. They might be on the way to a doctor’s appointment. And, of course, students or faculty (or other workers) might be doing actual work in a coffee shop.
When you add up all these factors, I wouldn’t be surprised if the portion of people able to be out and about during regular working hours exceeded 40 percent. And since many people are working during the weekends and evenings, it’s possible that half as many people are able to be out and about during official working hours compared to non-working hours.
Thinking about it this way, the question isn’t so much “why are so many people out and about during the workday?” as “why aren’t there more people out and about during the workday?” If movie houses are packed to the gills on weekends, why are there just a few lonely souls populating the seats during a weekday matinee? Why are coffee shops mostly empty at 3:30 in the afternoon?
I think it comes down to availability. Even though Bob gets Tuesdays off, Cindy might take every other Monday. But both of them are free for at least part of the weekend, so that’s when they get together for dinner and a movie. While perhaps 40 percent of us might be available at any given time during the workday, 80 percent are free during the weekend, so it’s much easier to find time to spend together.
But given that people now have so much free time during the workweek, maybe they should start thinking about using it socially. Perhaps as workweeks become even more flexible, we’ll see more and more people at the Tuesday matinee, or there’ll be Wednesday morning softball leagues, or a Monday brunch tradition. I can think of worse things than a mimosa at 2:30 on a Monday afternoon….