Work Too Hard, Burn Too Fast: When Overwork Culture Meets New Workplace Tech
Our “Always On” Work Culture is Unhealthy and Counterproductive
Many workers now feel they must be “always on” to keep up. They think working long hours and constantly checking messages is required to compete with top talents. Many businesses and society encourage “hustle culture” — praise overwork, little rest, and complete devotion to work tasks. Sometimes bosses directly demand it, like when Elon Musk said Twitter employees should exhibit “long hours at high intensity” or be fired. More often the message is subtle through workplace attitudes and new tech that makes nonstop work possible. Either way, the workaholic behavior has downsides for health and hampers workplace performance. It is time for change.
Expert Researcher Offers Compelling Case Against Overwork
Malissa Clark studies overwork culture deeply. In her new book Never Not Working, she examines workaholism harms from different viewpoints — individual and organizational too. She gives a full, truthful definition of overwork. Surprisingly, just spending many hours working does not automatically equal work addiction. Her book helps assess if you have fallen into overwork personally or enabled it on your team.
Most importantly, Clark shows how to escape overfocus on work that ruins personal health and happiness — or company success too. With strong evidence and insight, Never Not Working speaks to all professionals seeking balance.
AI Advances Also Call for Rethinking Workplace Culture
At the same time, workplace tech like artificial intelligence (AI) offers big performance gains through automation. As AI handles repetitive tasks, people can take on more advanced, creative work. However, realizing these AI benefits depends greatly on having mentally and physically healthy employees.
Overwork Undermines Conditions Needed to Thrive with AI
When toxic overwork culture combines with adopting AI systems, trouble brews. The habits of “always on” work undermine basic human needs. Lacking sleep, recovery, or work-life balance harms health and the ability to learn new skills. Yet AI relies on regular skill growth as automated tasks switch to less routine work.
Burned-out teams also lose the togetherness, critical thinking, and caring leadership required for ethical and helpful AI. Exhausted, insecure people might view AI as a danger rather than a support.
Toxic Tech Culture Stymies AI Success
Companies seeking an AI advantage while demanding overwork essentially set up failure. They drain the health, happiness, and flexibility of the very employees meant to guide algorithms.
On an individual level, work addiction decreases well-being, relationships, employability if laid off, and more. Organizationally, overwork erodes culture and performance despite short bursts of high output. As bosses allow or dismiss workaholism, initial gains give way to turnover, disengagement, less innovation, and an inability to maximize AI over the long term.
Time for Leaders to Rebuild Team Culture?
Escaping this harmful loop requires deep change organizationally and culturally. Fixing overwork cannot fall completely to individuals, explains Malissa Clark. Companies must overhaul outdated thinking, incentives, policies, and norms to protect work-life balance. Wise investments in people must match those in AI for best results with fewer risks.
With Better Boundaries and Understanding, People and AI Can Thrive
A truly collaborative integration of people and AI takes patience and care. But with more reasonable limits, purpose, and compassion, overwork yields to the sustainable effort. Employees regain energy to augment smart algorithms. Trusted AI enhances each person instead of replacing them.
Businesses may tempt rapid expansion through worker exploitation. But past brute force methods harm future innovation. With visionary leadership and cultural evolution, the age of human-AI collaboration can elevate work to benefit all. For enlightened progress, Malissa Clark lights the path.
As Malissa Clark conveys persuasively, cultures enabling work addiction serve no one — and advancing AI stands to only exacerbate such dysfunction. But with courage and care from organizational leadership, people can build workplaces where both human welfare and technology thrive in service of shared goals.