Toxic Culture in a Company of One

In the past couple of weeks since the big story about Amazon’s broken work culture, the web has been abuzz with stories of big companies with long hours, demeaning politics and impossible standards.

As you may have read in the articles like Work Hard, Live Well, “the research is clear: beyond ~40–50 hours per week, the marginal returns from additional work decrease rapidly and quickly become negative.Long hours backfire for people and for companies.

In other words, working more than 50 hours a week can lead to negative productivity.

Many big companies have a BIG problem when it comes to culture. That’s the main reason I left the corporate world over a decade ago.

However, the same culture problems can and do affect tiny companies as well, all the way down to companies with just one person.

Maybe this describes you. Are you building a business all by yourself? How honest are you being about the culture you’re building for yourself?

Don’t fall for the idea that you can “out hustle” everyone else month after month. Even hustlers need a break, and when you don’t take time off, your business pays the price when you eventually burn out.

Work hard, but be smart. Be honest with yourself about how much time off you’re taking, and how much you need to perform at your peak.

Respect the research and your limits. There’s an optimal amount of time to work, and that amount is much less than the “hustle” crowd preaches.


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Hi, I’m Corbett Barr. I’ve been writing here since 2009. Join my email list for new articles about supporting yourself doing something you love: