Sheryl Sandberg, famed Facebook COO, recently admitted in an interview that she leaves work at 5:30pm daily. And as revealing as this admission is, the shocking part is that she admits she has done this for her entire career, but often covertly. She says, “It’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.” Sheryl, like other women who often need to leave the office early or at a regular time rather than the sometimes expected 8:00pm, often returns emails late into the night from home and goes to work at early hours to get ahead of the game.
Mashable’s revelatory article on Ms. Sandberg’s schedule is titled, “Sheryl Sandberg Leaves Work at 5:30 Every Day — And You Should Too.” The author contends, “There should never be any shame associated with heading home before 6 p.m. to eat dinner with one’s children and spouse, and Sandberg is sending a much-needed message to parents everywhere that it’s OK to leave work before dark for family time, especially since research has shown that children are healthier, happier and better performing students when they eat with their families.”
I agree wholeheartedly that no shame should be given to those who leave before 6:00pm to eat dinner with one’s children and spouse. But I would also go a step further. Let’s not give special treatment only to women with spouses and children, all the while allowing the single ladies to spend all hours in the office. Now don’t get me wrong, we’ll all have those stressful times at work where we need to put in more than 40 hours a week and it’s important to “burn the midnight oil.” But on a regular basis, every man and woman deserves to work a schedule that allows for a rich social life, time with friends and family, hobbies that make them stronger and better employees, and general time for rest.
I admire Sheryl Sandberg’s willingness to come forward to share her own schedule, especially since 88% of the Forbes Most Powerful Women list are mothers. But until we see powerful executives both male and female, single and married, boasting a balanced schedule, no one will change the often unrealistic expectations placed on the hours of employees around the country.
Tell me what you think? How many hours is too many? Or too few? What time do you leave the office every day?