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Why having a ‘work family’ is actually hustle culture at its worst

Hustle culture and its celebration of never-ending work have undermined productivity for too long. I cringe at mantras like “rise and grind,” “girl boss,” and “go hard or go home” that we feel forced to follow to prove our value and rise to the cultural challenge. How about taking a relaxing nature hike or spending time with family? Business leaders should focus on thinking about how we can give people the time and space to live their lives. The privilege of having time to yourself shouldn’t be the dominion of the wealthy or those in positions of power.

Moreover, at the heart of hustle culture may be that those at the top don’t want their employees to have a life outside of work because they have the warped view this will make workers inferior at their jobs. Even the very design of the “cool company” office space, with snacks and ping ping, keeps workers at work. When I hear a leader tell their employees, “We’re a family,” my mind immediately goes to, “you’re not respecting your workers’ boundaries.”

We hear terms like “work spouses” and “work moms,” which imply that employees should fall into traditional familial roles in the workplace. If you’re mothering toddlers at home, do you really want or need to be mothering people at the office? Shouldn’t your emotional labor be reserved for those who truly can’t take care of themselves, such as those who have yet to be potty trained? If you’re the “work mom” or “work spouse,” are you simply enabling colleagues to shirk responsibility for handling their own emotions or learning to effectively manage their own conflicts?


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