Spark

'Sleep is good. F**k companies that endorse skipping it as some kind of superpower.'

Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Heinemeier-Hansson wants to know why Microsoft appears to be promoting the value of 14-hour workdays.
Sleep is so good, sometimes.

At Spark, we spend a fair bit of our time talking about work/life balance. Most recently, we've talked about the five-hour workday,  where workers get the afternoon off -- but have to be fully focused when they're at their desks.

It's become popular in Europe for companies to shut down their e-mail servers after business hours, to save employees from being tethered to their phones.

Germany even went so far as to introduce legislation banning after-hours work email, and France is following suit.

Sweden has been experimenting with reducing its official work week to 30 hours, without reducing salaries.

It seems like finding a better work/life balance is becoming a thoroughly modern thing to do.

Yay!

But then, on this side of the pond, there's this:

Yikes.

That's a Marvel Studios executive talking - bragging, even - about working 14-hour days, seven days a week, for decades.

To say that ad rubbed David Heinemeier-Hansson the wrong way would be an understatement.

David is the co-founder and CTO of Basecamp. That's a very successful platform for organizing workflow and productivity. He's also the co-author of Rework, a critically acclaimed book about how to be more productive in the work you do - by working less.

"Maybe it is possible now for you to take your work into the bathroom, or to your kids' soccer game, or to the movies, or any of these other places but that doesn't mean you should," he says.

Several years ago, he very publicly took Microsoft to task for what he saw as promoting an always-on attitude to work.

That idea is "just stupid," he says, adding that it merely makes people less productive, and leads to burnout.

He and his business partner, Jason Fried, came up with a social-media campaign called "#WorkCanWait" in an effort to make a counterpoint to the Microsoft campaign.

A screen capture of Basecamp's "Work can wait" parody of Microsoft's ad. (www.basecamp.com)

Indeed, after that campaign, they also introduced a "work can wait" feature into Basecamp that makes it hold on to any after-hours notifications it would normally send to users.

So when this latest ad popped up, David was furious, taking to Medium to write a bluntly -- and colourfully -- worded essay about what he sees as a backward step.

"They haven't learned anything," he says, adding that although the focus of his ire is the software giant, it's still a "race-to-the-bottom" attitude that's prevalent in many industries.

"Let's just be present. Present for our kids, and present for our partners."

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