You think you hate ‘Business Hours’?

My work-from-home friends have complained to me that ‘business hours’ suck.  They kvetch that not being able to ‘work’ (i.e. pay bills, purchase items, or generally get stuff done) just because they happen to be working at 1am is a pain in the ass.

To them I say “try dealing with it when you work in an office from 9 to 5.”

See, you work from home.  So if you have to get up early and deal with waiting for someone to show up and deliver/fix something, it’s not as huge a deal as someone who cannot work from home.  Before I was able to do that, I had to take a day off for something as mundane as waiting for the cable guy.  And we know they never show up on time.  Want to go to the post office?  Good luck.  It’s your lunch break or nothing these days.  The library near my house closes at 5pm on Friday.  If I’m lucky, my train gets in at 4:50pm, which means maybe, just maybe, I can make that dash in 10 minutes.

And when you can only call your doctor from 10am to 3pm, that means you’re probably going to be doing those calls from your desk or an unused conference room with good reception (good luck with that).  So everyone gets to hear you say “No, I’m not pregnant,” nine times as you schedule an MRI.  Screw privacy, I know which coworkers are healthy, which have kids in sports, and which are moving simply because we all have to have our asses in a chair for 8 hours, and don’t have the free time to handle private things privately.

Then think about the flip side.  I work at a bank, which means if someone can bank from their location at a given time, all our resources must be available.  All the time.  There’s a span of a few hours a week where it’s ‘okay’ to have systems down.  So that means we have to have support for tellers, ATMs, online business, etc pretty much 24/7/365.  That means someone has to work, and every once in a while, that someone is going to be me.  Great.  Now I have to work 8 weird hours, and I still can’t get my personal shit done without sacrificing sleep.  And don’t get me started about trying to mail a package from the post office.

Think I have it bad?  I have a friend who’s a nurse, and every time she gets tossed on second shift, you can forget about her getting the minutia done.  There’s no time for her to go to the bank and handle something in person, nor can she do it on-line because, oh look, the system is down because people like me are working.

We’re a global society, but businesses can’t run in a sustainable way as such quite yet.  Yet.  We struggle with operating all the time because of location and the fact that we kind of need to eat, sleep, and have a life.  So we have to hire more staff to handle more hours, in more locations, and not everyone has the money to do that.  And, as many companies have learned, throwing warm bodies at a problem doesn’t solve it.  People have to be trained and educated, they have to learn the products and the manners in which a company works.

So the next time you bitch about business hours, remember it’s probably worse for someone else, and it’s a sign of a global problem.

And please post your comments between 8am and 5pm, Central Time.