Hell week at work? We get it. You’re at your third meeting of the day and it’s only 12 noon. All of your deliverables are due the next morning and the three cups of coffee you’ve downed are only making you palpitate. At this point, you aren’t really productive, you’re just doing a lot of things at once to no avail. You literally have no time for unnecessary drama.
In between naps and quick internet breaks, you realize that it’s been a while since you’ve last completed eight hours of sleep. You check your schedule and find out that you’ve been working over 60 hours this week alone. And the worst part is, you know the workload won’t be stopping anytime soon.
According to the Labor Code of the Philippines, the normal working hours of an employee should not exceed 8 hours. In a recent post made by Ogilvy copywriter Jeff Stelton, he briefly discussed what kind of crazy the advertising industry deals with on a daily basis. Overworking has long been the measurement of hard work and efficiency of an employee. It’s been proven so many times that the long hours of work, impossible deadlines to beat, and overcommitment to projects can affect one’s personal life in the long run. Employers and companies still fail to address this issue. Though Ogilvy brand strategist Mark Dehesa’s death is not solely because of his agency workload, Jeff still mentioned that this loss should serve as a wake up call for everyone.
Knowing that overworking has been normalized in our culture, Young STAR reached out to five creatives from different fields to discuss their opinions about overworking, and what they did about it.
A, 24, Junior Account Manager
Hours clocked in on a busy week: 65-70
Stayed for their company’s training
My then-account director assigned me to do a pitch for a big company. Instead of dividing the work to at least two account managers, she assigned four different presentations on top of other requirements and costings all to me. I ended up being in the office for 40 hours straight just to stay on top of the project and to meet the deadline. It was poor management on her part; I wanted to quit right after that because I was overworked and underpaid. Though there were more sleepless nights after that, I ended up staying for a year and four months. I just considered the whole experience as training to become a better employee in general.
P, 26, Account Executive
Hours clocked in on a busy week: Roughly around 75
Blessed to have a considerate boss
My most overworked experience was when I had to stay until six a.m. in the office to finish an urgent requirement but, it was my choice. I’d like to point out that overworking is a choice, at least for me. Fortunately, in our company we can afford to say no if we know we can’t take on the specific work handed to us. Especially when we know that we already have a lot on our plate. As an account executive it’s my responsibility to align with the client and manage their expectations. I have to tell them that the team cannot realistically meet the deadline. I take into consideration my team, especially the creatives and their current load before committing to a client. Of course, this is a case to case basis and not all agencies are the same so I can’t speak for everyone. At the very least, based on my experience, after working really hard for big campaigns, I make sure that I find a way to recover after it. Thankfully, my boss understands that.
M, 25, Graphic Designer
Hours clocked in on a busy week: 60
Left because of the company’s work ethics
My bosses didn’t know how to listen to our clients and kept insisting on their ideas instead. I had to stay in the office until 11PM for revisions almost everyday. I ended up having to revise everything back to what the clients initially wanted. And the worst part is, my boss even had the nerve to ask me to do something for her outside of work… for free.
M, 27, Communications Executive
Hours clocked in on a busy week: 70
One-man team wonder
In my new job I had to deal with the Christmas rush alone with zero training from my boss as she was on leave. I had to take on roles that weren’t part of my job for at least six months (public relations, design work, and strategy planning). Basically, I became a one-man team that I averaged to 10-14 hours of work on the daily.
D, 24, Producer
Hours clocked in on a busy week: Immeasurable
Sees fulfillment in her job
Oddly enough, I’ve never considered shifting careers despite the crazy workload and working hours. Sometimes it just makes you question yourself if it’s worth it. Are all my sacrifices worth it? Is it worth it to shoot for 36 hours straight to get the perfect water droplet? Is it worth to stay up till four a.m. rushing to beat a project deadline even if it means missing your own birthday celebration? Is it worth it to not sleep for five days straight just because you want to meet the impossible product launch deadline?
But I guess being surrounded by so many talented creatives is what keeps me going. Successful projects make me think that I am indeed doing something worthwhile.