Monthly Archives: November 2017

Hard Working Bankers Helped Create the Tyranny of the Clock

by Dr. Anne L. Murphy (University of Hertfordshire)  Are you working against the clock? Struggling to make that next deadline? Operating in an environment of presenteeism where time at your desk counts for more than your actual productivity? In a recent Radio 4 programme, Emma Griffin blamed industrialisation for the tyranny of the clock in our working lives. Eighteenth-century factory owners like Samuel Greg of Quarry Bank Mill made their fortunes by regulating the working day and extracting long hours from their workers. In doing so they transformed the lives of their employees and created a seemingly unbreakable link between time spent at work and perceived productivity. Yet we can’t blame industrialists for this change. By 1783, the year Samuel Greg founded his mill, the City was already working to a rhythm that depended on strict adherence to clock time. In that year, the Bank of England appointed a Committee of Inspection to report on the way the institution worked. In the report we find constant references to the clock and to the timely delivery of the services the Bank provided. The report tells us that the official working day started at 9 and, when the more than 300 clerks employed by the Bank arrived, they […]