Why Silicon Valley’s Work Culture Is Killing Us

August 25th, 2013 / No Comments »

By Joscelin Cooper

The following guest post is by Joscelin Cooper, a communications and public relations consultant and writer fortunate to work with companies with healthy perspectives on work/life balance. She spends a lot of time climbing things and being outdoors.

I recently interviewed with a large, global technology company. The interviewer felt it necessary to tell me that I was expected to work a minimum of 55-60 hours per week. She didn’t want to encourage any assumptions I might have of a “40 hour work week.”

Not that I had any. We joked about the nonexistence of such a professional unicorn, and hah-hah’ed about how people could even expect to leave their jobs every day after only putting in a paltry eight hours or so.

Fairly recently I was offered a position to work closely with a very high-profile technology company CEO. Talking to her immediate staff, I was struck by the tone of reverence and sincere admiration they felt for their leader, as well as the solemn assertions that they were “on call all the time.” The admin assistant admitted sheepishly that she “never saw” her significant other; the chief-of-staff cheerily recounted how he’d begun to appreciate his 2+ hour commute, often heading home well into the evening. Any talk of work-life “balance” was treated with invisible air quotes. It was a special request—the vegan Kosher airplane meal, granted begrudgingly, to fulfill a check box toward building a healthy corporate culture. Basking in this CEO’s good graces, it seems, was well worth the intense, unrelenting pace and sacrifice of a personal life…….