Emperor Franz Josef still calling the shots at the Czech workplace

Photo: Pixabay / CC0

Czechs start work bright and early, more so than most other nations in Europe. According to a Microsoft survey just out, the majority of Czechs are at their workplace by 8 am, and most manual workers start by 6 am at the latest.

Photo: Pixabay / CC0
The Czech work day starts early, a habit that is said to go back to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when Emperor Franz Joseph would get up at 3.30 am. He would ask to be briefed on state affairs by 5 and at 5 am he would receive the first petitioners. By 6 in the morning, when he had breakfast, he would be in the picture and ready to give orders. The work day in the Austro-Hungarian Empire started at 7am sharp, if not earlier, and when the first telephone was introduced into the palace officials around the empire were on standby to answer the early morning calls from Vienna.

To this day, not much has changed in the Czech Republic. The government led by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš holds its sessions at 6 am with accredited journalists expected to be there an hour early. Most manual workers are at their posts by 6 am at the latest, many public sector employees start at 7 am, and 82 percent of small and medium-sized businesses have set the start of the work day at 8 am.

Only ten percent of Czech employees enjoy the luxury of a late start – for instance most employees in the banking sector start at 9am.

Opinion polls conducted on the subject show that the vast majority of employees would not welcome a shift to give them a later start, simply because they appreciate having more free time in the afternoon. People who start at 6 are usually out of the workplace by 2.30.

However, the Microsoft survey shows that particularly people living in bigger towns and cities are getting more freedom to negotiate a later start or work from home. While just two years ago 75 percent of employees of small and medium-sized companies had to be at their workplace every day, now only 39 percent are desk-bound. A quarter of employees occasionally or regularly work from home, 27 percent have the option of working in cafes or co-working centres and 14 percent are on the road.