IT'S CRAZY AT WORK
How often have you heard someone say "It's crazy at work"? Maybe you've even said it yourself. For many, "It's crazy at work" has become their normal. But why so crazy?
There are two primary reasons: (1) The workday is being sliced into tiny, fleeting work moments by an onslaught of physical and virtual distractions. And (2) an unhealthy obsession with growth at any cost sets towering, unrealistic expectations that stress people out.
It's no wonder people are working longer, earlier, later, on weekends, and whenever they have a spare moment. People can't get work done at work anymore. That turns life into work's leftovers. The doggie bag.
What's worse is that long hours, excessive busyness, and lack of sleep have become a badge of honor for many people these days. Sustained exhaustion is not a badge of honor, it's a mark of stupidity.
And it's not just about organizations—individuals, contractors, and solopreneurs are burning themselves out in the very same way.
You'd think that with all the hours people are putting in, and all the promises of new technologies, the load would be lessening. It's not. It's getting heavier.
But the thing is, there's not more work to be done all of a sudden. The problem is that there's hardly any uninterrupted, dedicated time to do it. People are working more but getting less done. It doesn't add up—until you account for the majority of time being wasted on things that don't matter.
Out of the 60, 70, or 80 hours a week many people are expected to pour into work, how many of those hours are really spent on the work itself? And how many are tossed away in meetings, lost to distraction, and withered away by inefficient business practices? The bulk of them.
The answer isn't more hours, it's less bullshit. Less waste, not more production. And far fewer distractions, less always-on anxiety, and avoiding stress.
Stress is passed from organization to employee, from employee to employee, and then from employee to customer. Stress never stops at the border of work, either. It bleeds into life. It infects your relationships with your friends, your family, your kids.
The promises keep coming. More time-management hacks. More ways to communicate. And new demands keep piling up. To pay attention to more conversations in more places, to respond within minutes. Faster and faster, for what?
If it's constantly crazy at work, we have two words for you: Fuck that. And two more: Enough already.
It's time for companies to stop asking their employees to breathlessly chase ever-higher, ever-more-artificial targets set by ego. It's time to give people the uninterrupted time that great work demands. It's time to stop celebrating crazy at work.
For nearly 20 years we've been working at making Basecamp a calm company. One that isn't fueled by stress, or ASAP, or rushing, or late nights, or all-nighter crunches, or impossible promises, or high turnover, or consistently missed deadlines, or projects that never seem to end.
No growth-at-all-costs. No false busyness. No ego-driven goals. No keeping up with the Joneses Corporation. No hair on fire. And yet we've been profitable every year we've been in business.
We're in one of the most competitive industries in the world. In addition to tech giants, the software industry is dominated by startups backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital. We've taken zero. Where does our money come from? Customers. Call us old-fashioned.
As a software company, we're supposed to be playing the hustle game in Silicon Valley, but we don't have a single employee in the Valley. In fact, our staff of 54 is spread out across about 30 different cities around the world.
We put in about 40 hours a week most of the year and just 32 in the summer. We send people on month-long sabbaticals every three years. We not only pay for people's vacation time, we pay for the actual vacation, too.
No, not 9 p.m. Wednesday night. It can wait until 9 a.m. Thursday morning. No, not Sunday. Monday.
Are there occasionally stressful moments? Sure—such is life. Is every day peachy? Of course not—we'd be lying if we said it was. But we do our best to make sure those are the exceptions. On balance we're calm—by choice, by practice. We're intentional about it. We've made different decisions from the rest.