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The Workday That Wouldn't Die

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(For information on ordering a video copy of the Livelyhood "The Work Day That Wouldn't Die" contact The Working Group at 510-268-WORK or email info@theworkinggroup.org)

Use these tips to prepare your students to view the program thoughtfully:

1. Read the summary of the show to familiarize yourself with its contents.

2. Ask these questions to begin a discussion of about the standard American workday, and the changes it has seen in recent years.

How many people actually work 8-hour days nowadays? What kinds of hours do people typically work?

Do you think most Americans work too little, just the right amount, or too much?

What do you think might make someone work especially long hours? What kinds of jobs do you think require the longest hours?

3.Inform students that as they view the program, they will meet people who work both traditional and non-traditional hours. You might suggest that studentsvkeep the following questions in mind as they view the episode:

What are some of the benefits to working longer, non-traditional hours? some of the drawbacks?

How has the explosion in Internet business changed the traditional structure of the workday?

What are companies doing to try to make employees happy about their hours?

While Viewing

"The Workday that wouldn't die" presents the following segments:


Will Durst tells viewers that Americans are working longer and longer hours as the traditional 9-5 workday becomes less of a standard.

Segment 1

San Francisco, CA - At Flickerbox, a young Internet media company, employees find themselves constantly working to meet deadlines, please clients, and get ahead in the dot-com race. As one employee says, people are worried that if they don't work such long, fast hours, they will lose out to their competitors.

Segment 2

The Livelycam talks to people around the country, who share their opinions about long hours and exhausting schedules.

Segment 3

Woodbridge, VA - Pamela Henderson, a computer specialist, also has an extended workday—but for different reasons. Pamela's daily commute from the suburbs into Washington, D.C. adds an extra 3 hours to her workday. How does she handle it? They key seems to be having many diversions, from singing and praying to thinking about the time she will spend with her kids at the end of the day.

Segment 4

Columbus, IN - Tim Perry used to work 12-hour shifts regularly for his company, Metro Plastics. He now works 6-hour shifts and gets paid for 8, thanks to a plan called 30/40. With this plan, workers work 30 hours while getting paid for 40. Ron Healy, a proponent of the plan, believes this makes workers more productive. He believes that it's not the number of hours you spend at work that counts, it's what you do while you're there. Because of his new schedule, Tim now has time to go back to school and more time to spend with his family.

Segment 5

Seattle, WA - Will tries his hand at working as a lackey for an Internet business called Mylackey.com. This company specializes in taking care of menial tasks that overworked business types don't seem to have time for. Watch Will move boxes, pick up laundry, and investigate the business of running other people's errands.

Segment 6

Livermore, CA - Two women at Lawrence Livermore Lab have found a unique solution to finding free time—job sharing. Collectively, Rita Brown and Sheryl Goodman are the financial manager for the lab. They've found that by sharing one office, one phone, and one job, they each have more time to spend on other activities.

Segment 7

Will presents a brief history of the 8-hour workday—from working for survival to union rallies to legislation regulating overtime. He asks: Have we gone back to the 24-hour workdays of our ancestors?

Segment 8

San Francisco, CA - Back at Flickerbox, employees share their stay-awake secrets, their longest workdays (60 hours!), and their thoughts about the round-the-clock work culture.

Segment 9
New York, NY - Will takes a lunch break with famed advertising executive Jerry Della Femina. They discuss the old days, in which three martini lunches were not uncommon. Jerry tells Will he misses those more relaxed days, since nowadays everyone is so serious about work.
Segment 10
Denver, CO - At this Alcoa factory, overtime used to be mandatory and workers had grueling schedules. Now things are different. Management and workers together created a revolutionary work culture in which day-to-day operations are run by teams of workers. Without traditional managers, people set their own schedules and have much greater autonomy.
Segment 11
Berkeley, MO - At Airport School, students and teachers have an extended school year. Dedicated teachers such as Jerie Rhode find themselves working extremely long hours before and after the school day. Why are they willing to work such long hours for relatively low pay? Jerie says she finds rewards in her relationships with the students. She says she thinks teaching is the best career anyone could choose.



Pause once or twice while viewing to have students reflect on what they've seen. Ask:

What are some of the attitudes about work shown in the film?

Who seems happy about long hours? Who seems unhappy? Why?

What creative solutions to the hurried pace of everyday life are shown in the film?

Ask whether students are confused about anything they've seen. Offer them the opportunity to visit the Livelyhood Website and skim the summary of "TheWorkday That Wouldn't Die" after watching the program.

Also encourage students to list terms they're unfamiliar with, and look them up in the Glossary for People Who Work, or Know Someone Who Does, located in Livelyhood's Digital Tool Kit.

After Viewing

A variety of resources is available for linking the content of the show to particular curriculum areas, and helping students apply the content to real-world situations relevant to their own lives.


1. Follow-up Questions. These encourage students to analyze and think critically about the situations and issues presented in the show.

You might begin by having students answer their own purpose-setting questions:

What are some of the benefits to working longer, non-traditional hours? Some of the drawbacks?

How has the explosion in Internet business changed the traditional structure of the workday?

What are companies doing to try to make employees happy about their hours?

Continue by asking questions that will lead students to relate the content of the program to their own lives:

Which of the work situations in the film could you see yourself in? Which would you enjoy most? Why?

Who do you know that works excessively long hours? Why do they do this?

Thanks to technology, many people are able to do their work anywhere, at any time. What are some advantages to this? What are some possible disadvantages?

To give students opportunities to explore these issues actively and creatively, assign one or more of the cross-curricular activities that follow.


2. Cross-Curricular Activities. These offer a variety of projects for individual students or small groups that extend concepts presented in "The Workday That Wouldn't Die." Some of these activities utilize other features of the Livelyhood Website, such as the Lively Poll and the Posting Areas. All activities are appropriate for students in grades 9–12. Some are suitable for younger students as well; others are appropriate for adult students.