My research revealed that men were just as likely as women to have trouble with these “always on” expectations. However, men often coped with these demands in ways that differed strikingly. Women who had trouble with the work hours tended to simply to take formal accommodations, reducing their work hours, but also revealing their inability to be true ideal workers, and , and they were consequently marginalized within the firm. In contrast, many men found unobtrusive, under-the-radar ways to alter the structure of their work (such as cultivating mostly local clients, or building alliances with other colleagues), such that they could work predictable schedules in the 50 to 60 hour range. In doing so, they were able to work far less than those who fully devoted themselves to work, and had greater control over when and where those hours were worked, yet were able to “pass” as ideal workers, evading penalties for their noncompliance.
Workaholism stems from a deep psychological belief that if we’re not working, we should be. Any time spent not attending back-to-back meetings, or swimming through an endless barrage of emails, or repeatedly re-prioritizing a to-do list, feels like wasted time. If we don’t work constantly, we mentally beat ourselves up.
Among the joys of web work is the freedom to create a more porous boundary between your personal and working life. Need to pop out to take your kids to swim lessons in the middle of the day? If you’re a web worker, that’s not a problem. Or conversely, if you have a huge deadline looming, you can say goodnight to your better half and pop open your laptop to get an extra hour of work in.