WORK-LIFE BALANCE / SEP. 30, 2013
version 2, draft 2

Bye Bye Spanish Siesta

Spanish working routines such as the mid-morning break or siesta as it is commonly known , might come to an end if campaigners convince the parliament to turn Spanish clocks back an hour and introduce European working hours, 9am - 5pm.

How would this affect a typical working day in Madrid? 

Around 11, thousands of workers sit down at the squares of Madrid to have their beloved café con leche, read the newspaper or friendly chat with their work colleagues. This break lasts for around 20 minutes and after that they are all back to work.  

Most Spanish workers have allowance to leave work for two hours for their lunch break if they wish to have a nap, but most of them return earlier to work as they do not want to leave their jobs at 8 pm.

This crazy timetable is a routine for Spaniards, ever since General Franco was in power. Spain’s dictator changed the country's time zone in an effort to please his counterpart in Germany. 38 years after Franco's death, Spaniards remain in Germany's time zone instead of moving one hour backwards to fit their real time zone.

How this chaotic timetable affects productivity at work...

Long working days have an influence in social behaviors. In Spain, workers make their lunch time 2pm but they do not have dinner until 9pm. However, if we take into account that they are going one hour forward than they should, then they do eat like the rest of Europeans at 1 pm and at 8pm.

Most Spanish workers do not return home before 8pm, they do not have dinner until 9, and most of them do not go to bed before 12, which makes working days endless and affects productivity at work. According to statistics Spaniards sleep, on average, one hour less than the rest of Europe which affects their health and their capacity of focusing at work.

Spaniards and foreign people working in Spain believe that it will take more than a time change to bring Spain in line with other European countries.

What do you think? Would it be possible to change Spain's unhealthy working culture just by moving the clock an hour backwards?

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