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Are Tech Companies Destroying Workers' Personal Lives?

Dustin Moskovitz, right, at his new company.

Dustin Moskovitz, right, at his new company. // Eric Risberg/AP

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By Max Nisen Quartz August 21, 2015

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In the wake of news about Amazon’s appalling work culture, and some arrogant responses to it by tech bosses, Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz has come to the defense of workers.

In a post on Medium, the CEO of productivity software company Asana argues that the tech industry is “destroying the personal lives of their employees and getting nothing in return.”

Drawing on research about the diminishing returns of overworking, Moskovitz argues that driving workers to put in more than 40 to 50 hours per week ultimately doesn’t pay off, and instead detracts from employees’ drive and their health.

What’s pushing tech companies to be relentless over-workers, then, must be a backward notion of professional drive and commitment, he argues:

It must be some combination of 1/ not knowing the research 2/ believing the research is somehow flawed or doesn’t apply to them (they’re wrong) or 3/ understanding that many people see these cultural artifacts as a signal about the intensity and passion of the team.

Moskovitz describes his efforts to convince job candidates used to intense environments that the company can still work urgently and efficiently without throwing work-life balance out the window.

He also argues that he would have been a more effective leader if he led a more balanced life back in 2006, which he describes as “one of the best years for Facebook, and one of the worst years for me as a human.” From the piece:

I would have had fewer panic attacks, and acute health problems — like throwing out my back regularly in my early 20s. I would have picked fewer petty fights with my peers in the organization, because I would have been generally more centered and self-reflective. I would have been less frustrated and resentful when things went wrong, and required me to put in even more hours to deal with a local crisis. In short, I would have had more energy and spent it in smarter ways… AND I would have been happier. That’s why this is a true regret for me: I don’t feel like I chose between two worthy outcomes. No, I made a foolish sacrifice on both sides.

Asana is a testament to Moskovitz’s assertions. The company has raised nearly $40 million since it launched in 2009, more than doubled its headcount to 140 people since last year, and attracted clients including Airbnb, Uber, Pinterest, and Dropbox.

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