Why Work Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy
Jason is a big believer in capping a workweek at 40 hours, he says, “We don’t want people working more than 40 hours. You don’t need to. And if we’re doing that, then we’re doing something wrong, actually. I know a lot of companies, long hours is seen as doing something right, like, “Let’s stay late, and let’s work on the weekends and let’s pull all-nighters.” I think that’s completely wrong. And so, we’re very careful about not encouraging our employees to work that way.”
Anything that cannot get done in 40 hours can wait until the next day or the next week. The reason is 50, 60, 80 hour weeks are not sustainable. In an emergency they can be done once in a great while, but to keep it up consistently, it doesn’t produce the best results.
Jason says, “I’m sorry, 80-hour weeks if you wanna be in business for a long time. Sometimes you’re gonna burn out, or you’re gonna burn people out, and it’s gonna be very difficult. Okay, maybe you can do it, but it’s not gonna be pleasurable, it’s not gonna be enjoyable. You’re not gonna keep a good team together with you for a long period of time. And you’re gonna lose a lot of great people along the way. And I don’t wanna lose great people. It’s hard enough to find great people. So I wanna keep them happy with the reasonable work hours, challenging work, great people, great environments, and those kinds of things.”
Just because you put in a lot of hours doesn’t mean you are producing good work, you can spend extra hours on bad work. Most of the time the best ideas and new innovations come after people come back to a problem refreshed. Working until you are beyond exhausted and stressed doesn’t usually lead to breakthroughs.
“It’s just kind of unusual in the United States, with our work hustle culture that’s just I think really damaging and really destroying people over the long term. And I know that, hey, sometimes when you’re in your early 20s you wanna put all the hours in, and you want bust your ass and the whole thing, I get it. But the thing is that it’s not sustainable. And when you have companies that encourage that kind of behavior when those companies themselves know it’s not sustainable, that’s almost fraudulent, and I just don’t wanna be that kind of company.”
There may be people reading this who are feeling stuck in a situation at work where leadership encourages people to work 60+ hours and rewards those who come in early and stay late. For those people, Jason says you should assess the situation and figure out what you have control over. Can you talk to leaders to get them to change? Can you set an example and change the mindset? If you have some control, figure out how to make it better.
If you don’t have control, it may be time to look for another job. “Most people who profess the craziness and are all in on these long, long, long hustle things, they keep doing it until they can’t. They don’t choose all of a sudden, like when they’re 35, to go, Oh, I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m gonna go back to a normal day’s work. Because the habits they’ve built are all built around busy, and packed schedules, and hustling, and the whole thing. So it’s very hard to break habits. If that’s what you’re used to doing, you’re gonna keep doing that, and at some point it’s going to collide with reality and life. Or it’s going to keep you from reality and life. And I think that’s really unfortunate too. Work is not that important to keep everything else out of your life.”
What you will learn:
- The problem with the hustle culture
- Why Jason feels work should be capped at 40 hours per week
- What to do if you feel trapped by work
- Advice for leaders who want to give employees more autonomy
- What it is like to work at Basecamp
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