The perils of all work, no play
The New York Times
Alibaba founder Jack Ma “is a big fan of extreme overwork,” said Bryce Covert. In a recent blog post, China’s richest man praised the so-called 996 schedule—working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week. The 12-hour workday is, he explained, a “blessing.” Chinese internet commenters furiously disagreed, noting that such a schedule makes raising children impossible, and even the state-run media blasted 996 as “unfair and impractical.” Ma isn’t the only manager selling “toil glamour.” Tesla founder Elon Musk has argued that “nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.” Uber’s internal mantra was once, “Work smarter, harder, and longer.” And WeWork decorates its co-working spaces with phrases like “Don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you’re done.” They’re all wrong. Studies show that neither employers nor employees benefit when workers push themselves to the brink of exhaustion. Researchers have found that after 48 hours a week, a worker’s output sharply drops. And people who labor for more than 55 hours a week actually “perform worse than those who go home at a normal hour and rest.” Excessive work effort has also been linked to worse career outcomes and a litany of health problems. Perhaps it’s time for Ma, Musk, and Co. to embrace a new mantra: Work smarter, work less.