There are many people among us who work more than 40 hours a week. And I am not talking of like 41 or 42 hours, but way over that. You might also have read Melinda Gates recently say about the problems of the workaholic culture and the impacts it might have had on diversity. Well it is kind of an irony knowing the fund they have was also built on some workaholic culture 🙂 But I think she has a point.
Late night calls, early morning calls, weekend sync ups looks like work never ends for many. Kids waiting for their parents, spouses waiting for their partners, friends non existent, even pets looking out of the windows and social circles diminishing. How did we reach here?
How did we reach a place where Workaholism is not increasing productivity and is only reducing the moral of the people who work for you.
I can understand startups where people work long hours, when you are building something in a place where there is no process, there is also a good amount of time spend because of the lack of structures. Also dreams and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow gives something extra for the people to put in that long hours. It is a personal choice. And may be the lack of throttling structures is what makes them move faster. That is for a different discussion.
But in large and mid sized organizations when people sit through long 50 hour days, there is a problem because it is hard to think that is a choice for everyone.
I know of this company that bought a startup started by its own former employees. Why?….. because they had built a product and even had customers in under two years when the large company has been struggling to build it for over 5 years.
Employees of the same company able to go out and work for 2 years and build something the company could not in 5 years. So the problem does not lie with the people, but how they are empowered and the environment they have to deliver value.
One area where I have not seen value generated of people working long hours are late night offshore calls that many engage (indulge?) in.. Isn’t it time to think the effectiveness of these 2 hour calls every day Monday to Thursday that many people and companies ritually perform?
While we start the day, someone somewhere is winding up their day. Planning for some time with friends and family and some relaxation. Gone are the days when everyone in your team comes to work at the same time of the day to the same office. Today we have meetings between people who are starting their day and those who are ending their day, all cramped into a single phone call. The question is how do we make such events productive.
While we all know attending calls do not produce results, there are still some managers who might give brownie points for that. The question leaders need to ask is how can they make their teams effective on a global level.
A distributed team is something we cannot do without, but we should not miss the real benefit of it. And what is the real benefit?
The real benefit is that now you have people in multiple time zones and you can get more done round the clock. And that benefit is lost when you make people reduce their sleep and family time.
At an age when so many collaborative tools are connecting people without having to meet or speak aren’t two hour calls and regular long meeting rituals the wrong thing to do. Yes we need them, but I would argue that not daily.
There is some unlearning needed for many companies and managers, who still think sleepless nights on phone calls are badges of honor. long work days have reduced productivity not increased it. The final question and the one needed at this hour is who is ready for introspection… ? May be some companies need to establish a Workaholic Anonymous for your Workaholic Synonymous employees within their companies.
I have a solution for infuse effectiveness and I will share that in another post, The key to effectiveness is knowledge, knowledge sharing and transparency.
Till then try some introspective, what is your call and meeting productivity matrix. Do you have one for your office?
You should Enjoy your Work and not Endure your Work