You may have heard about the polyphasic lifestyle that some call the “go-go life,” in which some self-proclaimed “gentlemen” adopt a semiautomatic, 24-hour work schedule, eating and sleeping mostly by the hour. These are sometimes called “drip-cheap.” You may have had some conversations with “drillers” about their pre-drip lifestyle, where one man helped care for his family while also looking for decent work.
Whatever you call it, it’s clear that going at all hours has gotten a lot easier to do. And with more options, and more avatars to match them to, the more elusive perception of work-life balance has gotten even more difficult to describe.
This month, the benefit consulting firm Towers Watson released a survey — not unlike those “men will be men” and “drainers of blood on the street” stories that fuel these videos — and found that 54 percent of American workers would prefer to work in moderation, 12 percent would work full time on a three-day week and 38 percent would work full time for no more than 39 hours.
Only a tiny percentage — 7 percent — of the surveyed said they would work fewer than 18 hours.
But on the whole, most of us wouldn’t say we work slowly — or even at all. Not on the minimum wage, anyway, which doesn’t work anyway if you have to get up early enough to shower, get yourself dressed, get yourself to work, get to your computer, track your progress, look for the bathroom, perhaps fix a leaky sink, wipe yourself down with the new cleaning solution, shower once more, then get back in bed, where there will be no more shower, no more commute, no more exercising, no more sleep — nothing. Just a 24-hour, minus-water schedule, and two hours of work sleep.
Our kidding aside, though, it’s time to talk about what that means for the average American employee. As we speak, the economy is shifting. Jobs are vanishing. The prospect of an always-on job who is, at best, a fungible commodity doesn’t bode well for us, and yet, we keep eating on those automatic schedules. As more information, more cognitive resources, and more capabilities are put in the hands of a casual workforce, the more the American worker needs to exercise control over the hours that he or she is doing work.
To review: We would like a colleague to be mindful, to not start his day by plopping down in front of his monitor, populating it with tiny chats with his loved ones, and deciding to hit the stores, maybe. A colleague could give a lot of credit to the supervisors on Pippa’s team. Rather than run out and take his lunch, Pippa probably would’ve taken a deep breath, read up on the walkable routes to get there, and then gone for it.