Indeed, the Greenwich meridian cuts across Spain at the easternmost edge of the peninsula, placing Madrid in roughly the same band of longitude as London
and Marrakech, but it's an hour ahead of each. As a result, the Spanish sun appears to rise and set later: Except on the very longest days of summer, it
never comes up before 7 a.m. in the western region of Galicia; in the winter it doesn't rise until 9 -- 20 minutes later than in Copenhagen.
Collin became interested in the subject after coming to Spain to do his MBA and growing frustrated with the notoriously quirky rhythms of Spanish life.
"I was really puzzled by this thing that we had to wait until 2 to eat our lunch," he said. "I asked all the time, why was that? And people were giving me
reasons that didn't make sense. I knew there must be a practical reason -- every habit or ritual always has a practical origin. Well, there you have it: the
According to Collin, the time zone issue explains why everything in Spain happens later, from meal times to the scheduling of sporting events to broadcast
entertainment (primetime here doesn't start until 10 p.m.). The people, he says, still live according to solar time, it's just the clocks that are out of
The campaign to slip Spain back a time zone is just part of the platform promoted by ARHOE. With a council of advisors from the fields of business, media,
organized labor, academia and the nonprofit sector, the group is trying to get Spain to adopt a more streamlined workday, doing away with midmorning
breakfast breaks and multi-hour lunches that interrupt the day and eat into productivity. According to 2011 stats from the Organization for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD), Spanish workers put in more hours per year than their
counterparts in France and Germany, but are less productive.
Officially, many of Spain's government offices in 2006 adopted an
American/European-style workday that ends by 6 p.m. with a short break for lunch, but in the private sector many still work from 9 in the morning until 7
or 8 at night with a two or three hour "siesta" break -- though few actually use that time for napping. Dinner is eaten later, at 9 or 10, and nightlife runs
into the small hours. The result, according to an unpublished study frequently cited by ARHOE, is that Spaniards sleep nearly an hour less per day than
their European counterparts. In addition to being bad for business and sleep health, the group argues, the current schedule also hurts families by limiting
the amount of quality time working parents can spend with their kids.
In ARHOE's universe, the clocks would fall back, work would begin as usual at 9, and workers could use that extra hour in the morning to get more sleep and
have breakfast at home instead of taking a half-hour break at 10:30, as is common now. If, in addition, the lunch break was shortened from two hours to
one, employers would wind up with a less-interrupted (and, perhaps, more productive) workday, while workers would finish by 6 instead of 7:30, earning the
equivalent of two-and-a-half more weeks per year to "go out to concerts, develop a hobby or do home repairs," as the promotional video touts.