Working late last night, I finished the piece I was writing and keen to get it out of the way, clicked send. I was stunned ten minutes later to get a reply from the person who’d commissioned the article. It was 10pm!
Whatever happened to the far-flung days when we’d all finish work at 5.30pm and skip merrily out of the office, safe in the knowledge that we wouldn’t be back at our desks until the next morning? We sometimes went wild and stopped for a drink on the way home, or heaven forbid, went to the cinema. Now, with emails, mobile phones and loads of us working from home, work is a rolling 24-hour enterprise. It’s so extreme in the newspaper world these days that friends of mine work from 8am to 9pm, and are still expected to be on call right round the clock.
That’s why an interview I read with Facebook COO (chief operating officer) Sheryl Sandberg this morning was like a breath of fresh air. In a recent video interview, she relates how she walks out of the office at 5.30pm on the dot every day - so she can have dinner with her children at 6pm. She admits that telling people she was working shorter hours to spend time with her family was a challenge at first but now she’s quite open about it.
“I was showing everyone I worked for that I worked just as hard,” she says. “I was getting up earlier to make sure they saw my emails at 5:30am, staying up later to make sure they saw my emails late. But now I’m much more confident in where I am and so I’m able to say ‘hey! I am leaving work at 5:30.’ And I say it very publicly, both internally and externally.”
As a famous businesswoman at the top of her field, Sheryl Sandberg can call the shots more than the rest of us, but I definitely think she’s on to something.
PS. BT has put its iconic red phone boxes up for sale at an eye-watering £2,000 per box. I don’t know about you, but I’d far prefer one like this chic green one – spotted at Bicester Village the other day…