How many hours a week do you dedicate to work? How many hours do you expect others to work? Do you feel pressure from others to work longer and take fewer vacation days? Does your success depend on your hours of work?
I recently encountered an article from the Washington Post appropriately titled Stop touting the crazy hours you work. It helps no one. It describes how our culture is obsessed with overwork and how success is commonly measured by the number of hours we put into a work day. Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer was quoted describing that a startup’s chances for success can be determined by whether the employees are working on weekends. She emphasizes that a 130 hour work week is possible if “you’re strategic about when you sleep, when you shower, and how often you go to the bathroom.” But is this the quality of life that our culture strives for?
Of course, success is only possible with hard word and dedication, but life-work balance is an essential component of the equation. There has been a shift in some high profile tech companies such as Facebook and Google that offer flexible work hours and extended family leave. However, many workers still feel the pressure from colleagues to put in excessive hours at work. In fact, the article outlines “that one researcher found some men pretend to work an 80-hour work week, even when the don’t.” This workaholic culture applies not only to long work days, but extends into vacation time and family leave as well. According to a USA Today article on vacation time around the world, “the United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday.” In comparison, every European Union country has at least 4 work weeks of paid time off. Only 3 countries in the world do not have a paid maternity leave law: Papua New Guinea, Oman and the U.S.A..
At aqUV, we strive for better work-life balance. We are advocates of getting outside…go for a hike, a weekend camping trip or visit a new country. Yes, we are a startup company and hard work is essential for our success, but we also dedicate our time to family, friends, charity projects, travel, outdoor adventures. As President Lincoln once said: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”