The website 80,000 hours, created by academics at Oxford University, provides a rough estimate of the average number of hours people will work in their lives:
80,000 hours of work in your career = 40 years x 50 weeks x 40 hours
But how does this relate to the reality for someone in the UK?
- Working years: 47 – assuming graduating at 21, and using a retirement age of 68 based on anyone born after 1977
- Working weeks per year: 46.4 – there are 52 weeks in the year and 5.6 weeks paid annual entitlement
- Hours per week: 42.5 – based on Eurostat data on UK full-time employment
92,684 hours of work in a UK career = 47 years x 46.4 weeks x 42.5 hours
This number is considerable, but the equation is highly variable based on your work. If you take an academic working at an English university, the working years, weeks and hours contracted will be less, but actual hours might be greater.
If you started paying into a pension before 2011, it might be possible to retire at 60, and you likely stayed in education through to a PhD so graduated at 26, giving just 34 years of ‘work’. A full-time academic ‘contracted’ hours might be 37 per week, and work 44.4 weeks with 38 days of leave, including bank holidays.
This fictional academic could work just 55,855.2 hours in their career based on contracted hours. However, this is a romantic bare minimum, and self-reporting on working hours is much higher.
The question is, what will you do with the hours you have left?