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Why you should avoid working late

20th March 2013


The sight of a PR agency at 7.30 at night, full of twenty-somethings feverishly tapping away fills me with genuine anger. Really, what is so important? I've never understood it. If your work is done for the day, go home!

I don't care what people think of me, so I have no guilt about getting to the office after nine and leaving by half five. (In fact, I quite enjoy it because it winds the boss up, you should try it!)

I know I'm crazy, but I quite like having a life outside work, and I even enjoy spending some time with the kids.

The worst place I ever worked in was a firm where I was mad enough to take the job, despite my predecessor regularly putting in 100-hour weeks. The partners were always in by 7.30am and leaving early meant leaving at 7.30pm. They had pictures of their kids in their offices, as that was the only way they would be able to recognise them if they ran into them by accident.

It wasn't long before I was working similar hours and developing dull skin and a grey appearance because a) I never saw daylight even in India, and b) I never got the chance to buy, let alone cook, any healthy food. As we all know, it's vital to look your best in PR, so I left.

Here is a list of why you should avoid working late:

1. Stop caring what everyone else is doing. If other people need to work long hours to feel good about themselves, that's their problem.

2. Take a look at what the people are doing who are always at the office. Are they any good? Perhaps they are trying to hide their incompetence by appearing to work all the time. And half the time I bet they're on Facebook anyway!

3. When you send out a press release or answer a journalist query at 3am in the morning, do you think the journalist is impressed? They aren't. They'll just laugh.

4. The more senior you are, the more important it is to set a good example. If you work long hours and expect everyone else to do the same, you will only foster a miserable company culture. If you want your staff to like being in the office, make sure they get plenty of time out of it.

5. It may be a cliché to say that no one ever dies wishing they'd spent more time in the office, but it's still true. Enjoy yourself; it's later than you think.

Being constantly online isn't helping either. So if you are reading this after 6pm, or at the weekend, for goodness sake stop and do something that has absolutely nothing to do with work. It is meant to be a day job, after all. And worst of all, you're making me feel guilty.


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