“Quiet Quiet” is in fact not the act of giving your two-week notice in a quiet whisper. It’s not about gently slamming the door before you tiptoe to a chair and, in barely audible words, tell your manager that your time at the company is up.
“Quiet Quiet” is a buzzword making the rounds on social media. Depending on who you ask, the definition may vary, but most people agree on a few general principles: Someone who has “quiet quietly” has abandoned the culture of rushing. They are unlikely to go “beyond” at work. They get in, they get their work done, they leave on time, and they get on with other things.
“Quiet Quiet” made headlines recently in what appears to be another domino effect of the pandemic. There was the Great Resignation, which saw a wave of people quit their jobs. We’ve heard that “nobody wants to work anymore” (which is an interesting way of saying that the job market has changed and nobody wants to work too much for too little money more).
The past two years have caused people to take a look at their lives and reevaluate their priorities. You’ve changed the way we think about work — profoundly. Quiet Quiet falls into this category. It is not enough – and inaccurate – to dismiss it as the capricious behavior of eligible young workers who are tired of trying again.
When I first heard about “silent quitting,” I had visions of people playing fast and loose with their employment contracts. Remember when Facebook first came along and we all heard horror stories about people getting fired for calling in sick and then sharing photos of themselves enjoying a fun day at the beach? I thought This is what we talked about. (For the record, I think employers should keep their noses out of employees’ private social media accounts, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
Instead, the behaviors I saw described as “quiet quitting” seemed… incredibly normal. Not just regular — healthy. Quiet quitters, a TikTok video informed me, only work the hours they have a contract for. They don’t bring extra work home. They generally don’t answer (or even check) their work emails outside of work hours and on weekends. To which I say: yes? That sounds… good, actually? And advisable in a country like the US where one is lucky enough to have a significant amount of paid time off. As we say in my home country of France: If you want to travel far, take care of your horse. Or: If you want to work almost the whole year, you don’t check your work e-mails at the weekend.
Still, “silent quitting” is discussed as if it were a new, possibly bad, behavior pattern that could turn the entire system on its head. (Oh, no, what are we going to do when people stop overworking themselves for no reason?) But really, remembering that an employment contract is a business is the most normal and sane thing of all. It is an exchange of something (money) for something else (work). There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that. Remembering what you’re getting paid (and not) for is basic common sense—especially when you consider that women and people of color are assigned more unrewarded tasks (sometimes called “office chores”) than white male employees.
Of course, some nuance is required. Just because someone sometimes answers email outside of normal business hours doesn’t mean they’re automatically a runaway workaholic.
Some parents choose to split their work hours so that they can leave work early, spend time with their kids in the late afternoon and evening, and then fire off another round of emails or do a few chores when the kids are done lying in bed. As long as you arrange your workload around your life (and not stuff work into every bit of free time), and as long as this one selection (instead of an employer requiring 24/7 availability) then that seems like a no-brainer. It’s just pragmatic.
Recently, a TV report in France caused some controversy. It introduces a concept it calls ‘tracances’, a contraction of ‘travail’ (‘work’) and ‘vacances’ (‘vacation’). In a tweet, France Info, the French radio station that produced the segment, described it as “le travail pendant les vacances” — working while on vacation.
And people were understandably upset. But that’s not exactly what the segment portrays: Rather, a woman is seen telecommuting from a convenient location while her children are still on summer vacation from school. They are on holiday; She can work from a nice place. The segment says her boss sees no problem letting employees work remotely for up to four weeks at a time “before or after their paid time off.” Before or after is important here. Not Instead of. Not while.
That hasn’t stopped many French people on social media from getting upset. They don’t want to loosen work-life boundaries because they fear it will create confusion. (By “confusion” I mean, for example, managers who take unfair advantage of employees’ ability to work from home, require 24-hour availability, or schedule meetings during someone’s paid time off simply because they can work from anywhere tune in.) There’s a real risk here. But I don’t want us to be closed to the kind of flexibility that works for workers.
Do I think some managers will still abuse the wonderful possibilities of remote work? Absolutely. Do I think these managers have waited until now to misbehave? no Do I want to believe it’s possible to set hard limits on paid time off? and also Are you discovering the fun opportunities that remote working offers? Yes! Life is short! When people can work from a comfortable place before or after your vacation, it’s worth a try!
Call it “quiet quitting” or call it something else—but work should fit into your life, not the other way around.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/quiet-quitting-is-another-way-of-saying-you-have-healthy-boundaries-with-your-boss-41917657.html “Quiet quietly” is another way of saying that you have healthy boundaries with your boss