Once upon a time, overworking consisted of extra hours in the office, late nights and pizza boxes littering the conference room as teams focussed on getting a project complete or decisions made in a single day. It meant that salespeople were up at the crack of dawn working on their targets and viable leads, and it meant that project managers were already up and sending emails before most of the team had had their breakfast.
The pandemic changed the way we work – and with it came a shift in the way we chose to overwork, with more and more people admitting to getting up and heading straight for their laptop in their pyjamas before doing anything else.
Now being referred to as the “Rise and Grind”, overworking is leading to hours of unpaid overtime for workers across a multitude of industries – so how is it affecting the world of sales?
“Rise and Grind” in the sales world
If you are struggling to balance work life and home life while working from home, and if you’re uncertain how this will translate as your return to the office, you’re not alone. Most people are struggling in some way, whether it’s focussing, or switching off at the end of the day and/or for adequate breaks.
Salespeople in particular are so used to bouncing ideas and target off of each other in an office environment, that motivation at home can be hard to come by – leading to a distinct rise in overworking and extra hours as employees look to hit their targets (which haven’t changed despite the huge shift in demand and the way that other business are working). And with the return to the office now the main focus of Summer 2021, slotting back into that corporate setting comes with a tough reassessment of the work life balance.
Let’s look at an example.
In the sales industry, the more sales you make the quicker you can rise up the corporate ladder and earn more money and hold more responsible. This is what the sales industry is led to believe, with movies like the Wolf of Wall Street romanticising and glorifying the idea of working overtime to hit targets and make millions. But is life really like a Hollywood movie? Of course not.
The reality of working overtime is that it becomes expected of you. Once you reply to a few emails past 9pm, colleagues and team leaders will start to expect you to answer in the evenings – and pretty soon you will find you have completely lost that line which separates worktime from home time. And when you’re not in the office and everything is conducted from home, it’s even easier to put in the extra hour every other evening or so… so what happens when you go back?
What is the “Rise and Grind” doing to us?
Not only is overworking physically exhausting but it is also mentally draining – and with mental health and wellness in the workplace now one of the hottest topics of conversation, it seems like mental exhaustion is the number one focus for employees and business owners alike.
The challenge with home working, particularly for those who formerly worked in close teams, is that suddenly working on your own doesn’t just remove the boundaries or home and work, but it also leaves workers without the adequate management they need. Field-based salespeople have seen their roles change exponentially without the ability to visit sites and clients, while office workers are suddenly having to manage their own time and hit their targets without the support of a manager behind them.
Yes, there are those for whom this removal is a benefit. But for many, the change in working style presents more challenges than advantages.
What should business owners be doing to combat the “Rise and Grind”?
Just like in the Wolf of Wall Street, one of the biggest drivers behind the overworking “Rise and Grind” culture is the idea that working overtime will lead to bigger bonuses and more success. Popular culture has instilled this idea that working 24/7 and living and breathing your career is a good thing and is what leads to complete satisfaction. But is this really the case?
Going the extra mile can indeed lead to quicker success and a rise in the career ladder – but it can also leave you hating everyone and everything about your job. It can drive a wedge between you and what you do, removing all the motivation and leaving you simply existing in a job that you hate.
Is that really living and succeeding, or is it a result of burnout?
Businesses should use this time to set and implement boundaries, encouraging employees to shut down their computers at the end of the workday and making it clear that out of hours emails and messages should only be responded to in a real emergency. Targets should be re-addressed in light of the change in the way that businesses operate, and team meetings (on Zoom or in person) should focus as much on how everyone is getting on as on how well they are doing in terms of performance and targets.
2021 is the year for wellness, wellbeing, and supporting each other – both in the workplace and outside. The most successful businesses and those which retain the top level talent will be those that can adapt their expectations and actually embrace the reality of “flexible working” rather than seeing it as an excuse to send emails at all hours of the day.
And to those who are still adopting the “Rise and Grind” structure in their day – take some time out to enjoy a coffee and a piece of toast before you switch your laptop on. It might just transform your entire attitude towards the day ahead.