Luke Jones

We don't need to work hard.

November 7, 2022

I draw rectangles for a living. Sometimes those rectangles are circles. I muck about with typography, pick a few colors, and draw things. I do this every day and I get paid for it.

Some of my colleagues do what I do, while others make those rectangles, circles, and words work in a browser or on your phone—breathtaking stuff. There are people on my team who spend their days figuring out which of those rectangles should go live, and how to measure how success those rectangles or circles are. A few of my colleagues even sell those rectangles to people who will happily pay for a rectangle that will make their lives better.

Look at this photo. This person is sleeping at their office so that they can spend more time drawing or building rectangles for a billionaire con-man who just bought the company they work for. Why? For an arbitrary deadline.

A photograph of someone sleeping at work because Elon Musk wants them to launch a rectangle or something.

We don’t need to do this at all – we’re drawing and building shapes. There’s a culture of overwork in the tech world that doesn’t need to exist. People who work longer hours are unwell. It makes people more likely to put on extra pounds, increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes, it stresses us out, and it causes depression. But people like Elon Musk don’t care. All they care about is making sure that rectangle goes live as quickly as possible.

There are very few examples in tech where we need to work more than 40 hours a work. It’s been proven that most of us would be even more productive if we work 32 hours a week, and that there’s a plateau to how productive we are as hours increase – but people like Elon Musk cannot comprehend that. Why? Because many CEOs, VPs, and managers are controlling taskmasters with delusions of grandeur – they think that team members should hustle and they don’t care about the consequences.

So what can you do? Push back if you hear an executive praising someone for working longer hours, and let them know that it’s indicative of poor planning rather than hard work. Not a team player? Who cares. A healthy team gives a shit about the wellbeing of their teammates. If you find yourself working extra hours, rather than saying “I’ve just got to get this done”, take a look into the deeper reasons why you’re working more hours and solve that instead.

Working longer hours is unhealthy and unnecessary. Many companies will punish you for time theft if you don’t work the requisite number of hours in your contract, but you aren’t able to punish them for working yourself into an early grave so a rectangle goes live on time – so don’t do it.