Maybe this is a good thing. Most Swiss people seem to work around 41 hours a week. Of course, they work harder than the French (this isn't saying much) and have less vacation than the French (doesn't everyone?). But still. I'd say on average the Swiss have a good work/life balance. Workers are guaranteed four weeks of vacation a year. And often, companies shut down completely for a week over Christmas. And the Swiss are paid much better than Americans too, on average.
Last week, I spoke with a Swiss woman who has a Swiss friend working in Miami. This friend is about to move back to Switzerland because her work load is unhealthy. "My friend even works on Saturdays," this woman told me, clearly shocked.
As I mentioned over on my blog about writing, I'm currently reading Should I Stay or Should I Go, by Paul Allen. I think nothing says more than this quote from his book, made by a software executive working in the U.S.:
"You have to work to make money to stay alive. It's a bit of a rat race. There are a lot of ambitious people. I see it with Americans--they go straight from college into a job, they work very hard, maybe 15 hours a day--and you wonder, 'is this your life?' But I don't see a lot of Americans asking that question."
Hey, Americans, are we asking this question? Do we not see that there is life outside of work? Or are we too scared of losing our jobs to revolt against 15 hour days, unpaid overtime, and weekend and holiday work? (Walmart open on Thanksgiving? Come on!) Are we Americans just wired to work, work, work, without thinking there could be a life beyond it? Please tell me there is hope. Is there?