Work ethic is a valuable feature that companies look for in their employees. But the devil is in the details.
Yes, an excellent work ethic can get you special projects because you're reliable, dedicated, and disciplined. But at which point does putting your job first start to take a toll on you?
That's exactly what Twitter users are trying to find out in this viral thread. Inspired by Samuel Pollen's humorous tweet about the differences between European and American out-of-offices, people from all over the world are sharing what's expected of them in the workplace.
Pollen's initial tweet, the one that started this discussion, was born out of his own work. "I live and work in the UK, and I have a lot of US clients," he told Bored Panda. "They send emails at all times of day, and never go on holiday. Conversely, our Swedish clients disappear all summer! So it was very much informed by my direct experience."
However, he wouldn't describe its subject matter as work ethic. "You can have a great work ethic and still appreciate the importance of family time, your health, and proper rest and relaxation," Pollen said. "But there are many legal and cultural factors at play. The cliché is that Europeans work to live, and Americans live to work. That elides many different individual experiences, but there’s a great deal of truth in it. Things like having a set number of sick days seem completely absurd to people on this side of the Atlantic!"
There are numbers to back up these statements, too. For example, Brits tend to put in fewer work hours than Americans (OECD data places average hours worked per year in the U.K. at 1,538 and in the U.S. at 1,779).
Then there's desk dining—the sad act of having your lunch where you work. A 2015 survey found that only 1 in 5 Americans actually spends their lunch break away from their desks, with most eating their midday meal while they continue to work. Plus, millions of Americans are skipping lunch altogether to continue working.
At the time of writing the tweet, Pollen thought he was exaggerating things for comic effect but as you can see, the replies tell a different story. "There was the woman who gave birth on a Thursday and was back at her desk the next Monday. There was the person whose colleague literally had a heart attack in the office, and they sent paperwork to the emergency room for him to sign. And there were people from other countries – India, Israel – who described a work culture just as bad."
"My favorite story was from someone who visited Italy, and spotted a sign on a sandwich shop: 'It was a nice day so we went out.' That's a sentiment I can get behind," Pollen recalled.
"If you’ve been working through this pandemic you better believe you deserve a break," he added. "I hope you all get one!"