how many times have you snuck out of the office early? or stayed late and stared everyone down as they trickled out? I know you’ve done both. we’ve ALL done it and no matter what we say publicly, we can’t quite bring ourselves to talk about it without feeling shameful. here’s the breakdown of where I’m coming from and where I think a lot of people are coming from when it comes to work life balance:
you are one of the following:
– a no-committments kind of gal with energy 2X that of a 2 year old
– family man with all the extras, think soccer games, dentist appointment and late nights
– a social butterfly: you can’t help but go to that happy hour or the next big gym class
– worker-bee: you work all day long, only to go to night school or work a second “job”
so what do all of these people have in common? probably not a lot on the surface, but they do share one thing. it’s the guilt that comes with not doing something or doing something. take for example the dad who works from 9-5 on the dot and then literally runs to pick his daughter up, helps make dinner, puts the kids to bed and then stays up late answering emails. there’s no doubt he feels guilty every day for leaving his job earlier than his colleagues. and then he feels guilty for not seeing his kids enough during the day. and then he feels guilty for answering emails instead of spending time with his wife that night. we all feel guilty about leaving early or coming in late, a drag on our happy work life balance.
but here’s the shocker: the amount of time you spend in the office is not directly correlated to the amount of value you bring to the table. nor is it correlated to your office mate, your colleague, or the dude down the hall. I know a ton of people who work super hard and efficiently for a small set of hours each day, getting ten times more work done than some of their colleagues!! shocking, I know. in our hurry to judge those who come in late or leave early, we fail to factor in the most precious thing of all: how they spend their time. do they gab to every person who walks by? or do you notice that they send out a bunch of emails late into the night, nearly 7 hours after they’ve left the office? the more we consider how time is spent, the better we can understand our colleagues, and frankly, ourselves.
as much as I think about how I use my time and where, I still can’t help but feel a little resentful when I spend long hours in the office logging good quality work and still miss the promotion. or when I can’t leave work early to take a ballet class because “that’s just not the same thing as taking your kids home”. there are two main reasons why we judge the way we do:
1. we feel undervalued: in one way or another, we feel like the work we do isn’t valued enough and that our hard work isn’t rewarded. the resentment that comes out of this turns to irritation when we see our colleagues leave the office early only to get the reward we wanted so badly.
2. we don’t think it’s fair: life is not fair, which is a highly proven fact but one that’s hard to swallow. it’s not fair that some people can get away with fewer hours while still getting the same pay. deal with it. figure out how they’re doing it and copy that.
what do you think about judging the 9-5? do you do it? don’t lie 🙂 and managers – value your people and show them some simple respect. this will go a long way in keeping your peeps around and avoiding some nearer-than-you-think meltdown of the century by that girl in the cube.