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Spain nixes siestas, we can’t blame our naps on Spaniards anymore

Spain’s prime minister recently proposed doing away with this prolonged midday lunch-and-snooze block in an effort to send workers home at 6pm instead of 8pm. Adios, siestas.

Break time is over, guys

Having spent most of my life in the Mediterranean and elsewhere I can tell you that the whole “siesta” mentality has never appealed to me. In Italy for example, I’d try to run off and pay a bill during my lunch hour only to find everything closed because of the midday break. In Spain, the siesta concept as we know it really evaporated a long time ago. Don’t kid yourself: The midday lunch break still exists but folks don’t really have the time to go home for several hours anymore.

Not only are work hours becoming more and more aligned with mainstream Europe, but workers are travelling farther just to get to work and a typical day still ends late no matter how you cut it. That said; there’s a difference between getting out of the office at 6pm and getting home by 8pm as opposed to getting out at 8pm and arriving home at 9pm or 10:00. Spain’s prime minister recently proposed doing away with this prolonged midday lunch-and-snooze block in an effort to send workers home at 6pm instead of 8pm.

Doing it for a better work-life balance

When you’re on the outside looking in, this must all seem quite amusing. In the United States the very thought of work grinding to a halt for several hours a day would never happen: There’s too much at stake in terms of the bottom line and just getting things done in general. But slowly many of the countries in the European Union are also taking note.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Managerial thinking around the world has undergone a subtle but important shift in recent years about work-life issues. It is now increasingly recognized that unless organizations provide support and flexibility, employees find it difficult to fulfill their family and work responsibilities. This line of thinking represents a significant shift, from viewing work-life issues as private concerns to recognizing that managers play a critical role.”

The rest of Europe watches for results

In fact, continues HBR, a soon-to-published study in Leadership & Organizational Development Journal will look at the responses of some 2,388 middle managers and their feelings about work-family balance. The fact is more and more managers are discovering that there’s more to gain than lose by empowering employees with some control over their work and family lives.

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So the Spanish premier’s proposal to end the working day by 6pm is not about leaving the siesta behind but more about ending the work day at a reasonable hour and giving employees more control over when they go home.

Sounds like a win-win situation and despite the cultural melodrama, much of Europe really IS watching how this plays out.


Written By

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

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