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The Obnoxiousness of Celebrating Poor Time Management
At all-staff meetings, managers at my office will make a point of lauding employees for working late into the night. The typical response is a chorus of “way to go” and “great job” from the rest of the staff.
I seem to be the only one in the office who finds this dynamic obnoxious. Why is poor time management something to celebrate? I hate losing sleep, and work diligently to meet deadlines.
Am I just out of step with the office culture? Should I say something, or continue to bite my tongue? I don’t want to be seen as withholding encouragement for my teammates, nor do I want to valorize an all-nighter habit.
— Anonymous, Los Angeles
The American obsession with overwork and sacrificing oneself at the altar of labor is unreasonable and unfair. Too many companies valorize truly unhealthy working conditions — 70-80 hours a week, perpetual availability, late hours, weekends given over to work urgencies, the complete erasure of boundaries. And unfortunately, many employers think that this kind of overwork exemplifies model employee behavior. I strongly believe in people maintaining healthy boundaries and prioritizing a personal life as much as a professional life.
I also know that all too often, people are in positions where they have to compromise their boundaries for a paycheck. That said, you aren’t out of step with office culture but I am not sure why you would feel the need to say something because your colleagues have different work values. Certainly, you could find a way to diplomatically address the unreasonable expectation of all-night work, but to what end? If the office culture is this entrenched in overwork, is raising the issue going to instigate change or is it going to isolate you from your peers?
If you get your work done on your own terms, and no one is asking you to pull an all-nighter, mind your business and let your colleagues mind theirs. If your colleagues do great work, join in the encouragement rather than judging how the work got done. If you’re seeing behavior that goes beyond late working hours and into the territory of exploitation, raise the issue with your managers.