Good news for workaholics: A new study says that you don’t need to peel yourself away from your BlackBerry to retain your sanity. In fact, many so-called workaholics say their work-life balance is just dandy. The research suggests than instead of being stressed out, workaholics just have a different internal ratio for that ideal balance than the rest of us.
The new paper, from a researcher at the Rouen Business School in France, suggests that the right kind workaholism can benefit the workaholic, her employer, and society at large. If you check your BlackBerry first thing in the morning and sneak in a few hours of spreadsheet time on Thanksgiving morning, you’re not just being crazy: You’re getting things done, which can lead to authentic feelings of accomplishment. Obviously your employer benefits, too.
The paper’s author, management professor Yehuda Baruch, compares workaholism to chocoholism. Enjoying chocolate isn’t a debilitating condition; rather, it can be healthy and provide pleasure and energy. Similarly, workaholics receive enjoyment from work. If they’re not hurting their own mental or physical health — the marks of a true “oholism” — then they should be left alone to enjoy what they enjoy.
There’s one huge caveat to all this: The workaholism must be self-driven, not imposed by a task-master manager. As a Wall Street Journal blog post about the study puts it, “workaholism is often confused with being over-worked.” But as long as you’re willingly spending more time on work than most people might enjoy, and not being forced to by your boss, cut yourself a break. And have a piece of chocolate while you’re at it.