Putting in the extra hours at the office or being expected to work all hours of the day just to meet with punishing deadlines is nothing new, especially in Asian culture.
Mark David Dehesa from Ogilvy & Mather Philippines who did so suffered the detrimental results of working overtime.
Dehesa was a young brand strategist who died on 19 February from pneumonia complications. An unidentified colleague said that he was working overtime on Friday in preparation for a meeting before he requested to be taken to the hospital.
Ogilvy Philippines has released a statement from the CEO, Elly Puyat confirming his death but there was no mention of whether Dehesa’s untimely passing had anything to do with his overtime work.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm the sudden passing of our colleague Mark Dehesa from complications leading to pneumonia on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. Mark was a much loved and important member of our family in the Philippines, and our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and friends at this very difficult time,” said Puyat.
Dehesa was a bright employee who had been with Ogilvy’s PR team in Manila for less than a year. Before that, he worked with BBDO, JWT, and Publicis. His death was mourned by many and sparked the age-old debate regarding a proper work-life balance in Asian working cultures.
Jeff Stelton, one of Ogilvy’s copywriters who had the pleasure of working with Dehesa wrote a post in Facebook calling out clients who gave out unforgiving deadlines and the agencies who pushed their employees to the brink of martyrdom.
“Clients always ask for something good. We do it almost to the point of martyrdom; sacrificing our time with our families, dates with our loved ones, but most importantly, our health. But with the untimely passing of yet another young colleague, I feel like it’s time we say ‘no’ to this unnecessary martyrdom. It’s time to say no to getting up for a 9 a.m. presentation when you finished work at 4 in the morning,”
After that, he edited his post to clarify that he did not mean that “[Dehesa’s] untimely passing was solely due to being overworked by any agency.” Other colleagues shared the same sentiments, where Frances Rallonza Bretaña wrote a post saying, “Goodbye Mark. The people who’ve known you and worked with you will miss you. Hopefully, your death will lead the advertising and communication, production and marketing industries to reflect on how the demands of work impact on our #physicalhealth and #mentalhealth, which always takes a backseat when fulfilling punishing deadlines.”
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Dehesa is not the first one to allegedly pass away from overwork. In 2013, another Ogilvy employee in Beijing died in the office while a 24-year-old copywriter for Indonesia’s Young & Rubicam collapsed and died after tweeting that she had worked for 30 hours in a row.
In 2015, a Dentsu employee committed suicide in Japan, which resulted in the resignation of CEO Tadashi Ishii and an overhaul of the company’s overtime policies.
Remember guys, work is important but never neglect your health!
Deepest condolences to Mark’s family and friends.
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