Understanding the Toxicity of Hustle Culture


Hustle culture. Two words fueled by burnout. If you’re unfamiliar, “hustle culture,” (as its name implies) means constantly working. It means dedicating as much of your day as physically and mentally possible to your work. In the world of hustle culture, the more you work, the more accolades you receive. 

The employees who sign on by 7 a.m. and don’t log off until 10 p.m.? Hustle culture. 

The boss who applauds your third night working over-time? Hustle culture.

The team member who works all the time and even when he’s not working he’s consuming hours upon hours of GaryVee content? Definitely hustle culture.

“Long hours are the tribal birth-rite of start-ups, high- tech and corporate finance. I still recall the one-upmanship culture of my first Silicon Valley job, where working until 1:00 am was flaunted like a marathon win. With the proliferation of mobile devices, and the push for more productivity, the average 40-hour workweek has increased to 47 hours, with 50% of full-time workers reporting that they work more than 50 hours per week,” Beth Crocker, Chief Financial Officer, shared.1 

“Intense hours that were once confined to urgent, big value projects — new product launches, big sales deals, IPOs, acquisitions — are now applied to projects as routine as a monthly report. 

Remember Bill Lumbergh from Office Space asking Peter Gibbons if he can work another Saturday? He has become every boss.”

Bill Lumbergh - Office Space movie nodding and drinking coffee

The problem is, hustle culture breeds a toxic sense of competition. You’re celebrated the more tirelessly you work, but you miss meals, sleep, and important events to keep up that momentum. You push yourself to complete an extra sale, gain an extra lead, or hit just one more goal to keep your leg up on your teammates in the company. 

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Why is Hustle Culture so Problematic?

“One of the biggest causes of burnout is when you have an unreasonable workload, with time pressure from your manager and/or co-workers. When your workload is unmanageable and your team is unable or unwilling to offer support, you will start to experience burnout. When you’re feeling burned out, it’s your mind and body both telling you that you need to make changes to get back to homeostasis,” Dan Schawbel, Author and Managing Partner, explained.2

For freelancers, hustle culture can be incredibly detrimental. Freelance remote workers generally aren’t tied to one employer, so their goal is to gain clients to make them money. In the same breath, the more clients you have equals more experience, which can help you move up the freelancing ladder. This makes it easier to beat out competing creatives and score higher paying contracts.

However, too many remote workers — freelance and full-time alike — push themselves to deliver an unrealistic scope of work. Long hours and hard work can be necessary at times as an entrepreneur or entry-level employee, but too much focus on “the hustle” creates an unsustainable culture of panic and depression.

Didn’t live up to your weekly goals? Panic. Another teammate out-performed you? Panic. 

This is not healthy. To nurture a safe environment for employees, the toxicity of hustle culture has got to go. That change starts with you — whoever is reading this book — to eradicate a negative mindset and acknowledge mental health on a team-wide and company-wide scale.  

Don’t miss Chapter Six: The Highly-Personal Nature of Burnout on Teams 🔥

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  1. Crocker, Beth. “How to Set Boundaries in the Age of Burnout.” Medium, Thrive Global, 26 Sept. 2017, medium.com/thrive-global/is-it-really-weekend-worthy-how-to-find-balance-and-set-boundaries-in-the-age-of-burn-out-bc91d6178a2.
  2. Schawbel, Dan. “How to Prevent Burnout in the Workplace.” LinkedIn, Workplace Intelligence Weekly, 2 Mar. 2020, www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-prevent-burnout-workplace-dan-schawbel/.

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By Remote Work Tribe