Working like a perro


Mexicans work the longest hours.

So says the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which published a recent report detailing that Mexicans work 594 minutes a day doing paid and unpaid labor – more than any other country’s army of drones.

Having worked for a Mexican company – surrounded by Mexican colleagues and receiving orders from Mexican bosses – I definitely sensed a difference in the office from my U.S. working environments. Here are a couple observations about the distinctions:

(1) If your work entails urban traveling, well that traveling can take forever. Sometimes, it’s like god pointed a remote control at your bus and all the surrounding vehicles and pressed the “off” button. Then traffic rigor mortis sets in. While stuck on the road, you get no actual work done for hours. It piles up. Meanwhile, your blood pressure rises because you’re late – like “I-should-just-get-a-sandwich-and-forget-the-whole-thing” late. And of course, besides daytime travel, your jornada is bookended by often epic commutes.

(2) Basic human decency is lacking among supervisors. One friend working on an independent project waited five hours for an appointment with a high-ranking supervisor, after specifically traveling to his office. Another friend stays at his office until midnight simply because his boss hasn’t left and it’s bad form to slip out at, say, 9:30 p.m. I have my own stories, but I’ll abstain, since my name is on the blog.

This gentleman – reclining, reading, shoes off midday – does not represent the average Mexican.

(3) After 2 p.m., the phone is not your friend. Some Mexicans take lunch from 2-3 p.m. Others take lunch from 3-5 p.m. Others from 4-6:30 p.m. (like someone I was supposed to be interviewing back in February; I showed up to his office at 6 p.m., and he was still out.) So if you’re placing a crucial call to someone, you should probably do it before 2 p.m. After that, there’s just no telling when they’ll pick up the phone again.

(4) All this is time-consuming, draining and sleep-depriving.  So you’re less productive.

First photo: xornalcerto, Creative Commons license through Flickr
Second photo: Edcarsi, Creative Commons license through Flickr

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