Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Why Americans "Work" So Much

One question that a lot of people have asked me about being down here is "What's it like working down there?" And of course I generally tell them the fun (and true) version -- everyone isn't as uptight and PC, people just seem friendlier with each other on all levels, and we drink in the office on Friday afternoons. How can you not love it?

Of course there's one more major difference between any office job I've had in the US and what I've noticed about my coworkers and Australians in general -- when Australians are in the office, they actually do work. What I mean by that is Australians actually focus on what they are supposed to be doing. Generally when I walk through my office, almost all of my staff are coding HTML or working on designs or whatever else it is that they are being paid to do at the time. They focus. In the end they spend less time in the office just because they're simply more productive and efficient.

Now I think anyone who is completely honest about things knows that isn't how we do things in the US. Back home I can witness someone respond to all of their personal emails, check their usual blogs, make their own blog post, maybe even go to get a coffee (not from the office machine, they actually make a 15 minute trip to pick it up from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts), and shoot the shit with everyone in the immediate vicinity, and THEN have the nerve to follow it all up with "Oh man, I have SO MUCH to do today. I am just swamped." Uh yeah champ, that's cause I just watched you liquidate a solid hour and a half of your work day. And then the same person wonders why they have to put in an extra 2-3 hours at the end of the day to make up for all of that.

In NYC I would send out an email to a bunch of friends and just watch the responses roll in. Didn't matter what that person was supposed to be doing -- editing a soon-to-be best-selling book, making high risk investments, performing brain surgery -- everyone just HAD to chime in with their two cents and a witty comment within 2 minutes of the original email going out. And god knows I loved it.

Down under, most people could get the funniest thing they've ever heard in an email, and you'd be lucky to get a response back before the work day is winding down. Most will just comment on it the next time they see you. Even with a certain group of friends that does have the periodic email chain, you have people responding with "Can you take me off this please." That NEVER happened to me before I came down here. Weirdos.

In the end, especially since I'm a proper manager down here, I appreciate the Aussie work ethic over the American A.D.D., just because people get things done and I can leave at a reasonable hour. Even if it means I'm the only idiot sending out pointless links all day.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Speaking of work, I need to do this gay ass assignment where I post a comment to a blog. So, even though this has nothing to do with your post, give me an extra point Christine!