Survey casts doubt on workaholic image

IT professionals might have the reputation for slaving away at the office to all hours, but a survey by IT recruitment company Manpower has cast doubt on that workaholic image. Manpower general manager Lincoln Crawley says the company was surprised to find that just under half of the candidates surveyed worked 30 to 40 hours a week

IT professionals might have the reputation for slaving away at the office to all hours, but a survey by IT recruitment company Manpower has cast doubt on that workaholic image.

Manpower general manager Lincoln Crawley says the company was surprised to find that just under half of the candidates surveyed worked between 30 to 40 hours a week, while just over a third worked 41 to 50 hours a week. While 4% worked 51 to 60 hours a week, 1% worked 71 to 80 hours a week. Meanwhile, 11% worked fewer than 30 hours a week.

Crawley says that the workaholic label has been a commonly held misconception for some time. He believes one reason for the image could be that IT people work when the work needs to be done. If there is a strict deadline, then they might work more than eight hours in any one day, but if there are no projects to be done, then they won’t be at work. Another reason is that films and television always promote traditional “nerd” stereotypes. “Whenever you see them on TV you see someone who does nothing but sit by their computer, and when they’re not working on it they’re playing on it.”

The survey findings are also backed up by feedback Computerworld received last year after an article ran on long work hours. Many of the respondents said they had been in jobs where long hours were the norm but had either changed jobs and reduced their hours or made a conscious effort to decrease their hours in existing jobs. Most commented on the need to work smarter rather than working harder.

Most of those surveyed by Manpower were male (72%). The biggest group (38%) were aged between 26 and 33, while 23% were 18 to 25, 18% were 34 to 41, 13% were 42 to 49 and 15% were over 50. Most (51%) preferred contract work, although 18% were indifferent. The reasons for the contract work preference included better money, more flexibility, more opportunity to up-skill, not having to deal with office politics and the ability to meet lots of people and network.

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