What is ‘working hard’ anyway?
As I’ve mentioned before, I not-so-secretly think that people who come in early and stay late just to look good to their bosses are dumbasses.
Here’s what I think when you work more than 40 hours, staying late until 9 p.m. at night in the office almost every night, or even weekends….
- Not asking for enough money per year so that overtime is justified and even welcomed
- Probably wasting time chatting with your co-workers while not getting anything done during the day
- Concerned that your results aren’t actually up to par, so you put in long hours to look better
- Don’t have the skills to actually do the job so it takes you longer to finish
- Are being overworked and should learn how to say ‘No’ more often
- Avoiding going home because you hate your partner and/or family life (..heard this one before)
- Working in the wrong areas — you may be working hard but you aren’t productive
Although I will admit there are other reasons that could be justifiably OK.
If you are doing it to:
- learn a new job because it’s a new career
- climb the ladder (all the while knowing how silly it is, but you’re just playing the game)
- working all those hours because you’re being paid an insane amount of money that justifies it
- avoid traffic — some cities are nasty at 5 p.m.
… those are the only exceptions I can see to working more than 40 hours, although if it’s to avoid traffic, I’d come in early and leave early.
You have a REASON to work more than 40 hours because you have a GOAL.
But hey, if you’re willing to work overtime for free (yes, for free, if you are being paid an annual salary) for a company who doesn’t really care about you, then maybe you have other reasons that I’m not seeing.
WHAT WORKING HARD REALLY MEANS…
When I talk about ‘working hard’ in a company to make a difference so you can ask for more money, there is NOWHERE where I mention doing it just for appearances only.
That is by far, the worst reason to work late in the office.
I’ve worked plenty of unpaid overtime in my life.
I did it because for the reasons above — it was a new job I wanted to learn how to do well, or I wanted (or thought I wanted) to climb the corporate ladder.
I made a choice, bit the bullet and toiled.
But other than for those reasons, people who are supposed to know their jobs, shouldn’t have to stay late to pretend they’re working as hard as, or harder than their colleagues to get a raise without actually doing anything productive.
I’ve seen people deciding stay late at the office, standing around, CHATTING TO EACH OTHER.
Why should I be the only donkey who stays and actually works hard or works more when no one else does it?
It’s false economy because I’m really just devaluing my own personal time by indirectly supporting my own enslavement.
Obviously, I don’t do this any more unless I get paid hourly (in which case, I am happy to stay until 10 p.m., sitting and billing while I’m in useless meetings that go nowhere).
YOUR WORK SHOULD SPEAK FOR ITSELF
If you can get things done in a shorter period of time, and the quality is just as high as someone who took twice as long, you are far more valuable to the company.
And don’t forget to mention that at your review, and bring it up so that your boss is aware that you aren’t just an Office Dumbass trying to fool her with your fake late nights.
Personally, I never have a fear of not being able to find another job — even being fired.
I see it as a great opportunity, because what you want, is to be with a company that recognizes your true skills and talent, rather than being with a company that thinks face time and perception is more important.
Even if people half-joke and try to peer pressure me by saying: “Oh you’re leaving already? I’m staying until 8 p.m. to finish my work“, I always reply: “Good for you. See you tomorrow.”
WORKING IN THE RIGHT AREAS ALSO MATTERS
Plenty of people work hard. Working hard in the right areas, matters.
Person 1: Always trying to fix problems that arise from a lack of organization. Spends her time running back and forth like a chicken with its head cut off, works late nights, weekends to catch up to her messy work habits (it’s like a nasty snowball, disorganization.)
Person 2: Spends time trying to find a system that works for them to be more organized. Spends her time looking for ways to be more efficient, to cut extra steps out of her work. Spends her late nights and weekends working to try and get the best system in place.
Those two are working just as hard, there’s no question about it. Guess which one is more productive?
In the long-run, it will be Person 2 (in case you haven’t guessed), who will have the right work habits in place to do her job with as little mistakes as possible.
Person 1, will continually make mistakes, spend more time, and become exhausted by her work snowball.
Person 2, will eventually not have to do as much, and will be ahead of the work snowball by a long shot.
I’d rather be Person 2.