By Thomas Griffin, co-founder and president of OptinMonster The tech world is full of stories of founders and employees who work hundreds of hour
By Thomas Griffin, co-founder and president of OptinMonster
The tech world is full of stories of founders and employees who work hundreds of hours every week — from Elon Musk, who works a “sustainable” 80-90 hours a week, to Bill Gates, who worked all weekend and never took vacations in the early days of Microsoft. Founders are infamous for bragging about how long they work, to the point that it can seem like a competition.
No one questions that working hard is essential to success. But the idea that working 80 hours or more every week is standard for everyone is wrong. It can tank your business pretty quickly since you’ll be burned out in short order.
Burnout is a real possibility for anyone working too hard. Yet despite it being so common, many founders, entrepreneurs and managers aren’t aware of why it happens or how to prevent it. How can you fulfill your vision without sacrificing yourself or the well-being of your employees?
What do long hours say about your business?
Working hard and dedicating significant amounts of time to your business is critical to success. Working so hard that you endanger your health or the health of your employees is not. Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital, calls this “hustle porn,” and he’d like to ban it entirely.
He told Web Summit Lisbon that it “is distracting young entrepreneurs from doing good work, and reinforcing sexist stereotypes that to win in tech, you have to ditch everything outside of work and devote your life to your company, a tradeoff many people (and women especially) simply cannot make.”
Long workweeks impact us both physically and mentally, making us less attentive and more irritable, and affecting our sleep patterns. Company leaders may be able to afford dealing with these adverse effects if they have an extensive support system and the resources to recuperate from the hard-working lifestyle. Employees often don’t, so when they work a similar schedule, they burn out. Their work suffers, but so does life outside the office, rippling out to their families and communities.
Today’s work is different.
So, why are we still stuck on the number of hours a week we work? The idea of the 40-hour workweek came about in 1940 when the Fair Labor Standards Act limited the workweek to 40 hours.
So much has changed since then — in particular, the nature of the work itself. The majority of jobs have moved from single, transactional tasks to ones that require critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.
This work shouldn’t require us to pay attention to the hours at all. Yet business leaders and entrepreneurs continue to cling to this idea of the number of hours people work every week.
Exchange hard work for focused work.
We need to change how we think about hard work to make it more about the focus and intention of our work, rather than the number of hours we do it.
Take a look at elite athletes. Many founders mistakenly point to them as the benchmark for the type of hard work they need to put into their business. Yet they’re laboring under a misconception about the athletes. Mixed martial artists and boxers take months between fights. They build in long stretches of rest and recovery and focus significant time on injury prevention. Professional baseball, hockey and basketball players nap before games, meet with support staff to go over nutrition and workout plans, and are very in tune with what their bodies tell them.
We need to do the same thing in the business world. Exchange hard work for work that’s more productive, no matter how long you do it. Give employees the freedom to explore the best way for them to work so they produce high-quality work that still achieves team- and company-level targets. Build in time to let people rest and recharge, at all levels of the organization, and your company will grow more consistently with lower attrition rates and happier employees.
There’s no denying that working hard is essential to success. But we need to stop praising those who work long hours and focus on getting things done in an intelligent, useful and sustainable way. That way, we’ll create and foster an employee-driven working environment that’s the envy of everyone. Employees will be more productive (and happier), and the company will grow more consistently and smoothly.
Thomas Griffin is co-founder and president of OptinMonster. He is an entrepreneur, investor and software expert, helping you be a better leader in your organization.
This article is from Inc.com