Do you feel guilty leaving the office at five? Do your coworkers give you the cut-eye if you power down your computer and take off before 8 p.m.? If so, then send them a link to this video where the super successful COO of Facebook and ex-Google exec, Sheryl Sandberg, talks about how she leaves the office every day at 5:30 so she can sit down with her kids for dinner at six.
Here’s what she says:
“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6:00, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids. I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years, that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”
She does admit that she would email her bosses at 5:30 in the morning and late at night to show she was still working – and it wasn’t until recently that she decided to speak publicly about why we as workers should make a commitment to get out of the office and break the cycle of competitive presentee-ism that keeps us glued to our desks until seven, eight and nine at night.
I used to work for a company where leaving at five was a career-limiting move. The later you stayed, the harder everyone thought you were working. And the more likely you were to get noticed by senior management (most of whom were also staying late at the office). To fit in, I would routinely stay until eight or nine at night, even though I was too tired to work all that effectively (I’m a morning person). Everyone would collectively roll their eyes at the few brave souls who did power down their computers at five so they could be home to look after their kids (singletons who left at five didn’t last long at the company).
This is not a healthy attitude and, as Sandberg says, more men and women need to take a stand and leave their desks at a reasonable hour.
Here’s a question for you – do you leave work at a reasonable hour? Or do you work in a place where leaving at five is a career limiting move?