How many hours of work are too many?

An article out last week on spoke to the Detroit Lions head coach’s, Jim Schwartz, work schedule which averages 100 hours per week!  That’s break that down:

– 7 days * 24 hours = 168 total hours in a week

– 100 work week / 7 days = 14.2 hours per day

What does a 14 hour day look like?  You get into the office at 6 or 7am and you don’t get home until 8, 9, 10pm.  Every day, every week.  I know what you’re thinking.  Well they only play 20 games.  He gets half a year off!  Plus, he makes millions of dollars.  First, NFL never stops working.  Off season might be busier than the actual season.

Why do so many of these coaches work 100 hour weeks? From the article:

“The mentality of most coaches borders on the paranoid-obsessive end of the spectrum. Good coaches care about the littlest details. It takes time to wade through film, meet with coaches and players, script practices, design game plans and perform the oodles of other responsibilities that need to be perfect…

“We’re here a ton, but then I go up and I talk to a coach about anything and I’m sitting in his office and I peek down and glance underneath his desk, and there’s a pillow and a blanket,” Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson said. “For a brief moment, I laugh and I’m like, ‘Holy smokes, this guy sleeps in his office.’ But then when you really think about it, it’s like, ‘This guy really sleeps in his office.'”

It begs the question, should the NFL or any employer put a limit on the amount of hours that a person can work?  Airlines do it for their pilots and flight crew.  Safety is paramount and the last thing you want is a pilot that has not slept for 18-24 hours.  Many other occupations do it for similar reasons.  Safety always seems to be the one factor in limiting work hours.  Is the NFL not concerned about the safety and health of their coaches?  They limit the amount of practice time for their players.

How many  of us wish we had employees who loved what they did so much they wanted to work 100 hours per week!?

BambooHR’s founders limit their entire staff to 40 hours per week.  They kick them out if they try to work more.  That seems a bit radical.  I’m sure my staff would love me doing that to them, but 40 hours in most workplace environments seems to be the minimum, not the maximum.

I’m not even focusing on whether the hours in the ‘office’ or at home.  Just total work hours.  How many hours are too many?  Hit me in the comments.  My feeling is there are times in every occupation when more or less hours are needed to do a great job at whatever it is you’re doing.  One week I can be a rock star 40 hours.  The next week I might look like a total slack for working 60 hours.  I’m a big proponent of work when you need to.  The old farmers saying of ‘there are times to make hay’, runs true in every organization.  If you have someone who is consistently, over long periods of time, working 60+ hours, you’ve got a staffing problem.


4 thoughts on “How many hours of work are too many?

  1. I agree with Debbie Ruston. If the results don’t improve with the number of hours worked, it’s a waste of time. For me, it’s all about the outcomes and not about the hours.

  2. This can vary from one person to the next. If someone is immersed in their work because they love what they do and it doesn’t feel like work, then the number of hours are not important to them. However, we must keep in mind that we work to live, we don’t live to work. What is a person working 100 hours per week giving up in family, friends, self? Does this person have time to eat right, exercise, and take care of their own needs? Does this person spend quality time with the people they love? Do they have time to think, create and innovate? Very often the best ideas come when we are doing nothing in our down time.

  3. 2009 : 2-14
    2010: 6-10
    2011: 10-6
    2012: 4-12
    Did he put in more hours to get the 2011 results? Do hours correspond at all with the results? I know that’s very ROWE-y of me but if safety isn’t the issue, why care about the hours? It’s not that impressive unless they actually win a Super Bowl. Go Giants! 😉

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