3 Reasons I Always Leave Work on Time

I leave work at 5:30 almost every single day. My workday begins before 9am, and unless there is a crisis, an unfinished project, or something that absolutely cannot wait until tomorrow, I’m packing up when the clock strikes.

That’s not to say I don’t love my job. I do. I really enjoy what I do and love the firm I get to do it for. I don’t leave every day because I’m staring at the clock waiting for time to pass. More often than not, I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. I don’t leave because my “shift” is over. I’m not an hourly employee so shifts should be irrelevant. I leave at the end of every day knowing that I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do — that I worked hard and got a lot done.

I hate that leaving on time is something we often feel like we need to defend. We should be leaving work on time. As often as we can. There is a cultural mindset that pressures us to feel otherwise, however (especially in the tech world) — a mindset unfortunately perpetuated by articles like HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah’s recent post “Why Leaving Work on Time May Be a Bad Thing.” While I understand the point Dharmesh is ultimately making, I wholeheartedly disagree with the execution.

Why HubSpot’s Dharmesh Shah Missed the Point

Shah’s post widely assumes that if you’re leaving “on time” you must be dissatisfied with your job or with the company you work for. Granted, if you consistently find yourself in the position of counting down the hours until the day ends or the weekend comes, then yes, you maybe want to re-evaluate the work and position you’re in.

But not everyone who leaves on time hates what they do. As I stated, I love my job. I just also enjoy having a few hours to myself before I pack it in for the night and wake up to do it all over again the next day. Whether it’s a class at the gym, cooking dinner, or just going home to read a book, disconnecting and winding down for a few hours makes for a happier and healthier version of myself.

A Problem of Perspective

I think the hardest thing to swallow about this article is not the opinion, but rather where it’s coming from. As a founder & CTO of a company, Shah is writing from an extremely unique and privileged position. No one will ever question him about when he shows up and when he leaves work. No one will ask him to stay later. He has complete freedom to come and go as he pleases — unlike the vast majority of readers of this article.

I’ve always been fascinated by Hubspot’s culture, especially their emphasis on “Use Good Judgement.” What’s most interesting to me is that this article seems to contradict that. It’s especially confusing because of the very hands-on role Shah took in formulating and baking that into the company’s Culture Code. If employers preach about flexibility, they should be consistent and reinforce it. There may have been plenty of HubSpotters who worked flexible hours before this article, but I can’t image they feel comfortable walking out the door at 5:15pm now.

3 Reasons Why I Leave Work on Time: An Employee’s Perspective

1) I Want to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Knowing that I have a finite amount of time to spend in the office every day actually increases my efficiency. It makes me prioritize and get as much high impact work done as possible. We utilize Scrum at OpenView, and structuring and planning my days accordingly helps me make every minute count.

2) I’m a Person First; an Employee Second

And the great thing? My employer understands that. I don’t mean that my priorities all lie outside of work, I mean that I want to be the best person possible at work, and to do that, I need to be treated as more than just a number. At work, I feel like I owe it to my team, my manager, our portfolio companies, and the firm, to be as effective as possible during my time spent in the office. I should be present and I should be working hard helping the team and the businesses move forward.

In turn, I am owed the respect and understanding that I am a person who needs time outside of the office. It’s a give and take. When employers respect their employees’ time, employees want to work hard not just for themselves but for the company.

3) I Don’t Want to Burn Out

We all want to be passionate about our jobs. We want to go to work every day excited about the work we do, the people we sit alongside, the clients or companies we’re fortunate to be interacting with. But there is just no way anyone can continue to bring that excitement, that passion, day in and day out, if you’re not allowing yourself any time to be away from it. There are other things outside of work that we should all be passionate about, as well. Whether it’s your Wednesday night yoga class, your evening jogs, or dinner with your family, there is something we all enjoy doing when we leave work. If we’re able to do all of this and find a good balance, it is much easier to maintain that drive and show up to work excited and recharged every day.

Just One Opinion — What’s Yours?

Clearly, Shah’s original article was written to illicit responses and opinions. And to that end, it has been very successful. This is just one reaction. I certainly don’t have it all figured out. Luckily, I work for a firm that allows me to pursue my passion for recruiting every day while also allowing me the opportunity to walk out the door at 5:30 to pursue my passions that lie outside of the office. I understand that not everyone is so fortunate. Additionally, everyone’s reasons for leaving on time are going to be different — and should be. We all have something that’s important to us that’s making us want to end our day sooner rather than later.

The point is, we should all have the opportunity to leave work on time, or stay late, or come in early. We should be judged on the work we’re producing, not the hours spent in front of a computer.

What do you think? Share your reactions in the comments below.

Photo by: Sonja Langford

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