The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Excellence

Guppy Speak

Earlier this year a young executive at a Tokyo Advertising Agency killed himself. In the previous 17 months he hadn't had a single day off work and apparently would only sleep an average of three hours a night. Eventually he cracked. If ever there was a reminder that the effects of stress and over working can harm us, this is it.

In the rush for business we make increasingly ridiculous promises about timing. And the familiar "it can only damage the quality of the work" line merely highlights how our desperation for business clouds our judgement.

A more balanced perspective would be to whinge about how it harms us. Horror stories abound, and more often than not it is the less senior people in the industry who ar esuffering the most. IT is not just long hours now and again that is the problem, it is the frequency of those long hours. I've heard of researchers working every night for four weeks and every weekend for ten. Now, of course, this does prove how hard we all are but it cannot be doing us any good in the long term.

Would we ever be so bold as to confront this issue saying "I haven't got any friends, my sex life is no bette rthan Cliff's, my diet is worse than an American cop's and I'll probably die at 40. I need more time for this project." No, we probably won't.

My advice? Throw off your shackles, burn your bras, hang up your trousers. Live in a field, smell the flowers. Live slowly. Or just get a job as a qualitative researcher.