The Hustle

The ‘hustling’ concept is on its way over here from the States. What is it and is it healthy?

Alexis Ohanian, Reddit founder (and Serena William’s husband), brought the term to our attention back in November when he was addressing an audience at the Web Summit in Lisbon. “Hustle porn is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in the tech industry right now. And I know so much of it comes from the States. It is this idea that unless you are suffering, unless you are grinding, unless you are working every hour of every day and posting about it on Instagram, you’re not working hard enough.”


In the States, the work culture is different – many employees are measured by how hard they work, their commitment to the company, and how ‘present’ they are at all times. And although there certainly are industries over here where you can find the same kind of ethos, we have a responsibility to not let it become mainstream thinking.

The problem is that working all the hours in the day has become something of a badge of pride, and that is really unhealthy both mentally and physically, and not to mention totally unobtainable for some (got a young family? Chances are you couldn’t stay late every night even if you wanted to!).


A useful method of negating the ‘hustle’ effect is to work smarter. Research shows that our brains are not designed to do their best work all day long, and if you can plan your workload around your brain’s peaks and troughs you will get a lot more good work done. In the morning, your brain is most alert; you can deflect distractions, concentrate on a task better and your problem solving ability is going to be at its highest. It’s a good time to have important meetings or tackle bigger projects. In the afternoon however, your brain definitely slows down making it a much better time to tackle mundane tasks such as replying to emails and routine daily tasks. This looser time is actually great for insight and creativity too; in the morning when your brain is sharp, it stops thoughts entering your head that will distract you. When that settles down, the ‘distractions’ can lead to new connections and perspectives on work, which can lead to some pretty hot creativity! The point is, if we work with our brain’s natural ups and downs, we will work a lot more efficiently, negating the need to work into the evening to get stuff done.


So, we certainly can try to work smarter, but one reason the hustle is still an issue is that employers are allowing it to happen. When they measure an employee’s worth or promotional prospects by how long they spend at their desk, not only could you say it is pretty poor management, they are de-valuing the job the employee has been given to do. A measure of success should be how productive your team are in terms of meeting targets, not how many evenings they had to work in order to achieve it. This change in culture would need to come from the top down; if we can promote a healthy workplace that emphasises smart working, we can hopefully stop ‘the hustle’ in its tracks.

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