Work-Life Balance

Can workers get glowing reviews by 'passing' as workaholics?

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Is it possible to win accolades at a firm with a focus on long hours and client commitment while finding time for family?

At one global consulting firm studied by Boston University business professor Erin Reid, some workers formally asked for shorter hours or flexible schedules, and they were punished in their performance reviews, according to the Upshot blog of the New York Times.

Some workers, however—31 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women—managed to pass as workaholics by working a more moderate schedule without making a formal demand.

These workers found clients who were local, reducing the need to travel. When they left work to spend time with children or a spouse, they didn’t call attention to it. They did some telecommuting while concealing information about their whereabouts. They relied on colleagues and collaboration to avoid overwork. The performance reviews of people in this group were as strong as colleagues who put in more face time.

Reid told the Times it’s difficult to make across-the-board judgments based on a study of one organization. But she said she has heard from people in a variety of industries who reported similar patterns in their workplaces after reading a summary of her study in the Harvard Business Review.

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