Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, recently went public with the fact that she leaves the office at 5:30, and has ever since she had kids. Back when I was at Ogilvy, 5:30 pm was mid-afternoon – one of the reasons I left a cushy full time job at a big agency when our oldest was born. Yes, Dave and I took a hit financially, but I didn’t know how I could balance motherhood with the kind of hours I had been used to.
Now that I’m back to working in an office, I am really fortunate to be at a company that respects that balance. I’m not usually on a train this early, but I do try to leave each day by 4:45 so that I can make the train that would get me home by 6. I get work done on my commute (and as soon as I’m done writing this post, I will be dealing with work emails.) But I truly believe that the additional 30 or 60 minutes I will have with my children tonight will have a more profound impact than the extra 30 or 60 minutes I might have spent at my desk.
Of course, technology makes this all possible. I am connected at all hours, and have spent many a late night in front of the computer in my home office editing material before sending it to a designer. But leaving the office just before 5 allows me to eat with my kids, and talk to them about their day; help them with homework, and wash their hair.
The night we broke the news to our kids that I had gotten full time work and would be going to the city every day, their first question was, “Does this mean we won’t see you before bed?” I promised them that I would be home.
I started this job wanting not only to prove myself to my new coworkers, but prove to my family that I would be around. I had gotten advice from others to show my commitment to the job by staying late the first few months. Instead, I showed commitment to my family by coming home. And in doing so, I established an expectation – for myself, my company, and my children.
No one is doubting my commitment. Late night emails and weekend strategizing definitely occur. And knowing that I need to leave the office by a certain hour makes me more productive while I’m there.
I may work in the city that never sleeps, but my two younger kids are in bed by 8pm. My first priority is my family. And like Sheryl Sandberg, I’m not ever going to hide that fact.
Blessing – coworkers who will have more respect for me, not less, after reading this