Working for one company for your whole life. Spending your career with a small company that engages and lives in the local community. Seeing your management and co-workers around town and at leisure events. Being a part of, and loyal to, a company doing business around the globe.
This sounds ideal to me, as I prefer working for smaller companies, and I want to work for a company that respects my time. In fact, I do work for a company like that. Red Gate, is in many ways, like the German Mittelstand described in this article on work life balance in. We work hard, we do need to respond to issues outside of “normal hours”, but for the most part employees treat others in the company (and our customers) with respect. That’s the key to managing an around-the-clock, global business that you are proud of.
It’s unlikely that most companies will change their view on how employees should be treated, and what amount of work is expected. Certainly many companies in the US have had lots of success by driving employees to work harder and longer, especially requiring this of their technology staff. Many of us that do work with computers have been well compensated, but the time lost and stress induced are high prices to be paid and many employees struggle with these requirements. There is numerous evidence that long work hours don’t result in more productivity over time, but when companies want to move forward, or systems are broken, companies expect that staff will work.
I don’t think laws like the German Anti-Stress law that limits contact after work hours can help things. The culture of work really needs to evolve to find a balance between getting work done and respecting employees. I’m not sure I’ll see that change at any scale, but I do know there are more companies, especially smaller ones, that do want to retain and invest in their employees, respecting their time and efforts. They don’t guarantee lifetime employment, but I do think they make life better while you work for them.