SOMETIMES TIME NEEDS to stand still and give you an opportunity to reflect on things too close to see. That happened for me when my brother visited Ireland with his family. Through his comments and interactions I could hear myself better. I realised I have definitely down-shifted from an over-packed American work week and now enjoy a much less stressful Irish existence. Dave and I worked together in the same space more than 20 years ago, taking on 50-hour work weeks as normal. Those were the hours worked by two generations in our family. I left the States, adhered to German and then Irish expectations, occasionally ploughing through 40 hours from Monday to Friday but never working weekends as a matter of course. The guys I know who work at middle level with Fortune 500 tech companies in the States cannot stay abreast their outsourced departments unless they work at least a half day on weekends. It's not that their overseas colleagues are in the office on Saturdays or Sundays. The problem is the time differences. If you think you can start at 8AM in California (like I used to do in an environment similar to the photo) and stay on the same sheet of music as an ambitious co-worker in China or India, you have not worked in that environment before. It takes hours of preparation and review to keep the wheels turning and sometimes that means looking at company indicators as they emerge. When you're still asleep and your Indian factory needs approval to get more infrastructure in place, you cannot afford to check over Twitter or flick through your newsfeeds before working your email or shared documents. You have to connect and make things happen just as the morning caffeine kicks in.
When I worked in a pressurised world, I had to check across international borders at the very top and very bottom of every day. I needed to know what was gestating, what was overdue and what was getting the most oversight. Knowing these things meant working the messages, rearranging some priorities and preventing snags. I don't do middle management anymore but I recognise its pressures when I see them. Like incoming e-mail weighing more than 25 MB for every day, seven days a week. I am so fortunate to be a world removed from that stress.