It's time to destroy startup-style workaholism once and for all

Posed photo of hands on a computer keyboard.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

There's a debate raging in Silicon Valley this week that you should really know about.

Though it may look like just a few heated Twitter exchanges and at least one scathing blog post, it's really a high-profile fight over who gets to decide how we value work in the 21st century.

We can probably all agree that dedicated, diligent employees are essential for any workplace, but some people argue for more - they want you to become a workaholic, singularly obsessed with achieving the company's mission.

This is no small difference, and you probably feel the repercussions in your everyday life.

You may be an industrious soul, devising creative solutions for whatever problems come your way, and are happy to devote your talent and time to your employer.

But you might also resent the fact that your days are long - so long that you rarely get to wind down with a bike ride, see close friends, or even spend time with your kids.

On Monday, Blake Robbins, an associate at the venture capital firm Ludlow, gave voice to such experiences, daring to challenge the culture of workaholism that pervades the startup world.

"When I first got into tech. I thought it was 'cool' to work on the weekends or holidays," Robbins tweeted. "I quickly realised that's a recipe for disaster."

In a follow-up post he added, "I promise you...your competition isn't beating you because they are working more hours than you. It's because they are working smarter."

The remarks were sensible personal observations, but an hour later entrepreneur and investor Keith Rabois‏ issued a two-word rebuttal: "Totally false."

At first, the thread launched a conversation among male entrepreneurs mostly on the merits of nonstop work, and soon more sceptical people, including women, started to weigh in.

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