The Three Strategies We Use To Deal With A Job That Requires 24/7 Attention

The Three Strategies We Use To Deal With A Job That Requires 24/7 Attention

In an ideal world, you shouldn’t have to hear from your boss once you clock out. For some jobs, especially salaried positions, that may be a pipe dream. When a job demands attention at all hours, we tend to have three ways of dealing with it.

Photo by bark.

Professional management site Harvard Business Review describes three distinct ways that workers and managers alike deal with the dichotomy of having free time but still needing to be available for work. In those instances, there is social pressure to either hide or sacrifice the parts of your life that don’t mesh with your job. When faced with that choice, most workers choose one of three strategies to deal with it:

  • Accepting: These workers accept that their job is their top priority and will usually drop whatever they’re doing to get work done if it’s needed of them. For example, they may respond to a work email with “I’ll get that done right away!” and have it finished immediately.
  • Passing: These people will pretend they’re working immediately, but quietly try to find ways around the immediacy. For example, they may respond immediately to an email, but suggest it will take a while to finish a task, giving them room to finish their other activities.
  • Revealing: This people will be open about their outside activities and will admit when they come into conflict. For example, they may respond to an off-hours email with “I’m at dinner with my family, I can’t get to that right now.”

All of these strategies have natural consequences. Those who accept their work life imbalance can end up burnt out or missing out on other areas in their life. The passers may still get ahead in their careers, but they’re under pressure to constantly hide their life. The revealers get to defend their free time, but it could have negative consequences for their career. HBR notes that none of these strategies are wholly good, and ideally cultivating a work culture that acknowledges and accepts outside lives without penalising workers for them would be ideal.

Managing the High-Intensity Workplace [Harvard Business Review]

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