An HSBC contractor has written a viral post about overworking following a heart attack.
Jonathan Frostick wrote in a LinkedIn post that he started to prepare for a new working week on a Sunday evening when his chest started to feel tight.
Recalling this on LinkedIn, Frostick wrote: “I sat down at my desk at 4pm to prep for this week’s work. And then I couldn’t really breathe. My chest felt constrained, I had what I can only describe as surges in my left arm, my neck, my ears were popping.”
He went on to explain that his first thought was: “F*** I needed to meet with my manager tomorrow, this isn’t convenient.”
The manager, who oversees a team of 20 people at the firm, has since pledged to make some changes to his life, as City A.M. reported.
These included “not spending all day on Zoom anymore”, “restructuring my approach to work” and “not... putting up with any s#%t at work ever again”.
LinkedIn post sparks wider conversation on overworking
Frostick’s post garnered a wealth of interaction, getting more than 11,000 comments, with others sharing experiences with overworking and burnout.
One person on LinkedIn commented, writing: “It’s easy to get caught up with work and forget about setting boundaries for yourself. I found myself very stressed out with work, missing lunch and breaks, and at one point thought I was having a stroke due to symptoms I was experiencing.
“Fortunately the doctor said it was not that, but my body telling me that I was "burning the candle" on both ends."
"Since then I have set a timer every 1-1 1/2 hours to walk away from the computer for 5 minutes to stretch and step outside for a moment…”
Another LinkedIn user said that homeworking has “forced people to face things we’ve been ignoring”.
The person added: “Let’s face it, most of us didn’t have a healthy work/life balance before the pandemic. We’ve been literally working ourselves to death. As tragic as this pandemic is, we’re learning a lot of valuable lessons from it…”
HSBC weighs in
Following the news of this LinkedIn post, a spokesperson for HSBC, told City A.M, who also reported on the news: “We all wish Jonathan a full and speedy recovery. We also recognise the importance of personal health and wellbeing and a good work-life balance.
“Over the last year we have redoubled our efforts on health and wellbeing – through support and tools for working healthily as well as internal communications campaigns to raise awareness. The response to this topic shows how much this is on people’s minds and we are encouraging everyone to make their health and wellbeing a top priority.”
Overwork amid the pandemic
Since the pandemic hit many employees have been working from home and data has pointed towards an increase in working hours.
A 2020 study of 3.1million global workers which was published by the National Bureau of Economic Relations – which looked at employee behaviours before and after COVID-19 lockdown periods – found that the working day lasted almost an hour longer (48.5 minutes).
While the study found that the average length of the workday returned to pre-COVID levels in some geographic locations, longer days persisted in most of Europe into May.
In addition to this, Bloomberg reported that UK employees sent 1.4 more emails on average per day to their colleagues, while the number of meetings had increased by 13%.
Separate data from Theta Global Advisors found that, in the last year, 34% of employees have seen their place of work’s headcount decrease while their workload has increased.
Pandemic’s impact on work-life balance
While tech has allowed remote employees to stay connected, other data has suggested that employees are struggling to separate their work and home lives, which could result in overworking.
2020 data from Novotel – as was reported by the Sun – found that almost three in ten said they found it more difficult to switch off from work when based at home.
To help remote staff to get this balance, Hayley Randall, People Development Manager at ICD Property, previously shared several tips with HR Grapevine.
Encouraging staff to have a dedicated office area where they will be in work mode is key, although, for some, this may not be possible.
For those that can’t do this, tidying way work stations or anything work-related could also help with this.
Going for a walk around the block at the start and end of the day could help with separating personal and professional life.
While all of the above points are key, Randall said it is crucial that those at the top actively engage in these practices themselves to give staff further validation that it is “supported and encouraged”.
“Top to bottom adoption of these new systems and tips is essential to get company-wide use. Some people might not feel comfortable doing something they usually didn't do [before],” Randall concluded.