Thanks to technology, nobody really works 40 hours a week anymore. At least not in America.

There’s no such thing as a 9-to-5 anymore, unless maybe you’re talking about a baseball score.

Two new surveys out last week herald the end of workdays. The first, from IT company GFI Software, surveyed 500 American workers and found 44 percent of us check work email during personal time. An obsessive 10 percent of us check it continuously both before and after work. We don’t know whether to laugh or cry at these other stats…

  • During work hours, nearly a third respond to email within 15 minutes, and more than half do within 30 minutes.
  • 10.6 percent expect responses within 15 minutes, and 23 percent expect a response within an hour.
  • Nearly two-thirds check work email on vacation, and only 21 turn off the smartphone while on vacation.
  • 5 percent have checked email during a wedding ceremony, 4 percent have during a funeral, and 4 percent have while their spouse was giving birth.


The other study comes from software company PGi, which helpfully lowercases the “i” so you won’t confuse it with the other G-and-I company. Its research is based on 617 of its own customers, which makes it less representative of all Americans but no less interesting.

For instance, it found that 63 percent of them eat lunch at their desks, which previous research has shown isn’t such a great idea.

A similar percentage said they have a half-hour commute to work, and a quarter said they have an hour-long commute. No wonder a recent Census report found 1.8 million people moved between 2012 and 2013 simply to shorten their drive.

More than 70 percent said they work more than they like, and nearly 90 percent said they have more than a 40-hour work week. Contrast that with this recent PGi infographic showing the average workweeks in Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands  are under 35 hours. (The Netherlands’ is under 30.)

PGi also asked participants what they would do with an extra hour per week. Here’s what they said…

  • 64 percent would spend more time with family.
  • 64 percent would exercise.
  • 31 percent would pursue a hobby.
  • 24 percent would catch up on household chores.
  • 22 percent would learn or improve a skill.

But we know the truth, don’t we? They’d all spend that time checking email.

Meet the Author

Brandon Ballenger

Brandon Ballenger


Ballenger is a writer for and its first political columnist.

Career and Business

office life, productivity, time management

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Article last modified on September 20, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: 40-hour work week — what's that? - AMP.