Thursday, 14 April 2011

British Banking - when did the clock start to regulate the working day?

Modern bankers are notorious for working long hours and neglecting their home and personal lives in favour of their careers. New research shows that at least some of their eighteenth-century counterparts were no different.

A study of business practices at the Bank of England has revealed a hard-working culture and shown that success, initially at least, required commitment and long hours. Indeed, the one striking factor that emerges from the study is the extent to which the clock was used to regulate the working day. Moreover, note was frequently taken of the problems that resulted when clerks could not complete tasks by the allotted time and men often worked late into the evening or gave up public holidays to be at their posts to serve the businessmen of eighteenth-century London.

These findings are significant because they paint a picture of life in one of Britain’s chief institutions. But they also offer insights into an issue that has long exercised historians: when did the clock start to regulate the working day?

This research shows that Britain’s growing financial sector led the way in creating a working environment that was dominated by the clock and in encouraging their workforce to see long hours and commitment to career as a virtue.

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