Meeting Designed by Slava Strizh

Meeting Designed by Slava Strizh

In the United States, overworking can be a badge of honor, proof of your dedication and passion. Even for those that do stick to a 40-hour work week, chances are they’re also freelancing or working on side projects. As in a recent article in the New YorkerJames Surowiecki explains:

Thirty years ago, the best-paid workers in the U.S. were much less likely to work long days than low-paid workers were. By 2006, the best paid were twice as likely to work long hours as the poorly paid, and the trend seems to be accelerating. A 2008 Harvard Business School survey of a thousand professionals found that ninety-four per cent worked fifty hours or more a week, and almost half worked in excess of sixty-five hours a week. Overwork has become a credential of prosperity.

And, as Surowiecki goes on to point out, this seems hypocritical considering the common knowledge today that working too many hours has a detrimental affect on business.

The bankers Michel studied started to break down in their fourth year on the job. They suffered from depression, anxiety, and immune-system problems, and performance reviews showed that their creativity and judgment declined.

So why are businesses still pressuring for long hours? Three words: economics and habits. And with technology making us all available 24/7,  it becomes a snowball effect where no one — not the worker, not the boss, nor the company, wins. 

Read the rest here

  • tseib

    Fear of getting canned for turning down a manager, or even appearing to have a manageable workload, seems to be a constant of human nature in salaried office settings. But in my corner of a creative industry, I see colleagues who seem to get some sort of gratification from feeling overworked, put upon, and generally abused. They complain when higher-ups ask them to give up evenings, weekends, and personal time, but I believe they also enjoy the feeling of being in demand and indispensable. Because they’re too afraid to say “no,” the result is exhaustion, resentment, and ultimately just leaving the company.

  • mcatlett

    Overworked people eventually become completely unproductive, and habitually overworking companies seem to me to be no more successful than companies that emphasize life-work balance. I think a lot of overwork comes from a simple lack of understanding; neither business owners nor workers understand what needs to be done to make a business a success and so they attempt to cover all the bases by spawning meaningless work.

  • Matthew

    Great tips here! I am quite curious what the solution to the ‘snowball effect’ might be; Can we ever reverse this trend with our 24/7 availability? Personally, I have gravitated towards meditation in the mornings to create valuable personal time, which usually involves turning on airplane mode to establish my intention to be unavailable to the rest of the world. This works great for me, in addition to maintaining a steady 40 hour a week workflow.
    But what does it take to shift the entire culture? I’m on the lookout . . .

    • Krmlks

      stop capitalism?

  • LittleOddsandPieces

    Now it has been known since 1969 that death can occur from overwork, causing physical stress. It was called Khaorishi. But this was the sweatshop dire conditions of the factory floor of staff treated little more than slaves.

    But the condtions described in this article means you die from industrial accident on the factory floor, yet from being worked to death when you have a high paying job. Er? What!

    Economics is not served by losing key staff just at the worst possible time – Murphys Law. The habit bit comes from the curse of electric light that made possible working beyond daylight. We are still stone age man in body, made with a body clock to sleep at night, safe in our cave from the terrors of the night. So 8 hours each third of a day – to work, rest and play.

    The 24/7 world of always online is simply solved. Switched it all off in your personal time.ecause the online world is actually ageing you faster.

    For personal use don’t tap away at a social event – talk direct.

    Or not do the most dangerous online activity – go online whilst walking on pavement (sidewalk) or along pavement (roadway).

    Once upon a time, in the far distant history of technology of between the 1970s and 1980s, a computer company opined that the machine had to fit the man, not the man the machine.

    Nurturing, chilling out, doing absolutely nothing, revelling in just pure relaxation is summed up by the poem – A Poor Life this with no time to stand and stare.

    Work / Life Balance is the absolute requirement of human mind, body and spirit. Either your employer recognises you as human and not a robot, which even that machine needs planned maintenance.

    Aways-Elysium Co UK

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