Should you work at the weekend to get ahead?

working at the weekend

This has been a bit of a debate on LinkedIn over the last few months in response to the following tweet that appeared on Twitter in June. 

“Unpopular opinion: the best thing young people can do early in their careers is to work on the weekends.”

The responses varied, and as predicted by the original author the opinion was very unpopular with some. With mental health and a good work/life balance becoming a huge priority for a lot of people over the last year and a half, the idea that to succeed means that you can’t have any downtime is worrying. 

Burnout, in particular digital burnout, has become a large problem. Not only that, but staff are having to be reminded to take annual leave due to the pandemic. Many people have avoided taking days off, particularly during times of high restrictions, due to not seeing the point in having time off. However, taking a break is necessary to recuperate and keep motivation and productivity levels high.

“In the last year, we have spent more time online and in the digital space than ever before. Ofcom has found that in the UK at least, adults are now spending 40% of their time watching TV and online video – that doesn’t even include the time we spend working. So it comes as no surprise that in a recent Gallup poll it was found that 75% of respondents said they’re experiencing digital fatigue. Digital burnout is on the rise.” 

However, there were also some supporters, with the argument that those who are dedicated to their careers should put in the extra hours, in their own time. Utilising that time to learn, upskill and make yourself valuable to your employer. Spending your free time researching, studying and learning new skills that will come in handy with your job role could also lead to career progression, a higher salary and more opportunities.

Some are working jobs that aren’t necessarily in the industry they want to be in, so once they’ve clocked out of their 9-5 they are getting their head down working on a passion project or side hustle to make it in the way that they want to. Admirable for sure.

It was certainly an opinion that divided the internet. At SOCIALight we understand where the original poster was coming from. When you’re young and keen to get stuck into your career, you may well have the free time and resources to do just that. But it’s important to note that having a good balance of work and free time is beneficial, not just for your mental health, but your physical health too. 

“When we don’t get a break from work — when we’re “always-on” — it takes a toll on our mental and physical health. Stress can increase when we’re over-committed or just over-worked. But conversely, our productivity goes down the longer we work. It can be a vicious cycle to get caught in too much work, more stress and then less ability to get quality work done.” Gillian Weston, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health

Getting the balance right is something we all struggle with from time to time. Remembering to take regular breaks, taking your whole lunch break rather than working through it, drinking enough water, practicing self-care and getting fresh air … all things that can be done as part of your working day. And rather than working on the weekends, perhaps we should be promoting learning/upskilling and studying as part of the job itself. After all, it’s the employer that benefits the most. Allowing your team members to have allocated time each day or week to spend time on developing and nurturing skills could be a brilliant way to keep employees motivated and innovating. 

That’s our two pennies worth on the unpopular opinion anyway!

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