Stop Working -- Now!

Here in D.C. -- probably the workaholic capital of the world -- long days in the office are commonplace. Indeed, I remember reports of White House staff working 12 hours a day or more (though insiders said some were staying late because they'd gotten into an "arms race" over who could put in the most time -- and many were often just surfing the net or gossiping instead of working. But many organizations and companies are conscientious about helping workers maintain "work-family" balance, including our own CQ Press office, where fresh fruit is provided free to employees three times a week. Chevron, however, takes health care to another level. A friend who works in Chevron's government affairs office here told me employees' computers automatically switch off when a ceiling on work has been reached. The computers have ergonomic counters that turn the computer off when the limit on key strokes has been reached. What happens if there's a project that has to be finished and you're out of keystrokes? Workers can override the shut-off switch, but it gets reported to management. Why the limits? Chevron no doubt cares about its workers' health, but it's also good business. As Nellie Bristol's recent report on "Preventing Disease" made clear, keeping workers healthy significantly cuts insurance and other expenses.

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor