Goldman Sachs new half weekend rules: you can have Saturday off, folks

Office hours have little meaning in the age of the Blackberry

Share

Are you enjoying your weekend? Better make the most of it – there’s not long left. Come 9am tomorrow it will all be over. It will be time, once again, to join the rat race, to put nose to the grindstone, boot up the computer, spend the day on Buzzfeed and other workplace clichés.

Or at least, it will be for those unfortunate millionaires who work at Goldman Sachs. The bank has sent a memo to its Wall Street executives in which it helpfully redefines the weekend. Everything has a bottom line, it seems, even time off. So the chief vampire squid have made some “rationalisations” and come up with a new concept. You could call it the microweekend, or the mini-minibreak or, if you’re old-fashioned, Saturday. 

From now on, employees will be forced to take a weekend which starts at 9pm on Friday and ends at 9am Sunday. It goes without saying that while no-one will be allowed into the office during those languid, good-for-nothing, near-endless 36 hours, they will be expected to keep an eye on their Blackberries throughout. And some junior bankers may have to work Saturdays, too. Still, 9pm til bedtime on a Friday – all theirs.

Oddly, this new demi-weekend is Goldman Sachs trying to be more laid-back. As a pose, it looks about as convincing as George Osborne in a hoodie but there is a serious imperative behind it. The macho-hours culture in some corporate workplaces has become literally deadly. In the summer, Moritz Erhardt, a 21-year-old intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, died of a seizure after reportedly working through the night eight times in the space of a fortnight.    

So it is right that the bank is taking steps towards ensuring that employees take time off. Even if they are baby, highly corporate steps, which look abnormal to the rest of the average-salaried world. “Vacations will be tracked and reported on a quarterly basis”, drones the memo. “All analysts are expected to take time off before the end of the year in an effort to focus on work-life balance.” 

The fact is, it is not memos that ensure work-life balance, but people. Face-time is still held to be the most accurate indicator of hard work when it is often not. Conversely, office hours have little meaning in the age of the Blackberry. So it is every adult’s responsibility to take a break when they need to. Not doing so results in inefficiencies and illness. Two days off out of seven is not a weakness but a necessity.

The leisure sector is now cashing in on the eternal workers. There are holidays which market themselves as “digital detoxes”, requiring holidaymakers to check-in their phones at reception like addicts. The latest fad in America – so surely on its way here – is for silent restaurants where all electronic devices, and conversation, are banned at the table, allowing workers to refuel without distractions.

The inability to switch off, electronically and bodily, is our modern malaise. It is a sorry state of affairs. No-one ever went to their grave wishing they’d sent more emails.

And then the penny dropped…

It is fair to say that Daniel Craig is an actor who takes his job quite seriously. At the moment he is on Broadway, starring in Betrayal, Harold Pinter’s portrait of a failing marriage. His unfaithful on-stage wife is played by his off-stage wife, Rachel Weisz, and this week it was reported that the couple have taken to sleeping in separate bedrooms “to keep focused”.

“They feel they cannot go home and snuggle up together at night and then switch into character,” said a shadowy source. This all very committed and noble, if true. Although it is worrying if Craig takes all of his roles so seriously. Does he need to feel the reassuring steel of a Walther PPK in his pocket at all times when filming Bond?

Method acting is a bit daft. Laurence Olivier had it right. When Dustin Hoffman showed up on the set of Marathon Man having not slept for three days, in order to play a man who had not slept for three days, Olivier took one look at him and purred: “Why don’t you just try acting, dear boy?”

That said, Olivier had his methods too. David Suchet gave a revealing insight this week into getting Poirot’s mincing, precise little walk just comme il faut. Laurence Olivier “wanted to mince and famously he put a penny in the crack of his bottom and walked and wouldn’t let it drop,” Suchet told Radio Times. “So I did the same thing.” Poirot on a Sunday night will never be the same.

 

We’re not rude, we’re just from the North

I don’t think I’ve ever had a cup of tea at Temporary Measure in Keswick, but I know the Lakes and I know this café’s ilk. I’m picturing big brown teapots, doorstop servings of toast, slightly crumby tablecloths – in other words, an ideal place to sit down.

Not according to some patrons. The Cumbrian café has been targeted on TripAdvisor by disgruntled customers who reported that the proprietor was rude. “We all have off-days, so we went back the next day,” typed one. “But he was exactly the same.” This seems an odd thing to have done, given the hundreds of other cafes in the Lake District, but then they did say that the scones were “lovely”. Responding on TripAdvisor, the café’s co-owner explained that her partner was simply gloomy by nature. “Luckily we live in Britain, in particular The North, a place that still maintains a healthy respect for a good old fashioned surly disposition.” She added that the day before she had served two teapots without teabags and thrown a fork at a woman. So these customers had seen the place on a good day.

I am a Northerner so I find this funny. Being curmudgeonly is our thing; our dispositions are forged in drizzle. Those visiting from below Birmingham should bring a cagoule and thicker skin.

Besides, if the tourists found Cumbrians rude, they should try New York. I was there this week and, after a run-in with a surly waiter, I was delighted by one local’s guide to the city’s attitude. “It’s the only place in America,” she said, “where if someone tells you to ‘Have a nice day’, you say, ‘Don’t you tell me what to do.’” I felt right at home.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Members of the House of Lords gather for the state opening of Parliament  

Peer pressure: The nobles in the Lords should know when to go

Jane Merrick
Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s dictator, and the subject of the spoof Sony film  

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Joan Smith
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick