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The zeal of a convert


STEVE HAWTHORNE was the project manager on the Goldsmiths College project. He is happy to acknowledge he had become a victim of the high-stress, long-hou rs cultu re, to the extent that he was uncertain about the proposed changes.

'I was very sceptical at the beginning. Work was my life and I wasn't sure what I would do with any free time. The senior architect said the same thing. If he had a day off he'd spend it sitting at home thinking about work. It's sad to think we'd let it go that far.' So why had it got to that stage?

'There was a lot of embarrassment caused to the industry by Mr Egan and his highlighting of bad and inefficient working practices.

There were a lot of scars from this. We were supposed to improve productivity, but just worked longer hours instead.' Changing this culture required intervention from the top. 'If the chief exec says don't email or phone after 6 pm, you think about these things differently.

Previously, doing this sort of thing meant you were seen as passionate, it was seen as a virtue.

Now you have 'permission' to do other things and not let them get disturbed by work.' This has had benefits, both on and off site. 'I've seen a remarkable difference in terms of aggression and tension on site.

I also hadn't appreciated I was causing so much grief. It's improved safety as well, as people have been less tired and their decisions have improved.' As has his social life. 'I can do things I could never do before like arrange nights out in advance. I can plan to go to the gym or meet a mate in the pub.' Enough said.