When Jonny Frostick realized he was having a heart attack this month, the first thing that happened to contractor HSBC Holdings Plc was: “I needed to meet my manager tomorrow, this is not convenient.”
Then he thought of funding for a project, his will, and finally, his wife.
Frostick, who manages more than 20 employees working on regulatory data projects, chronicled his near-death experience in a viral LinkedIn post viewed nearly 7 million times on Tuesday. The 45-year-old British is the latest financial professional to reflect on the work-to-drop culture during a pandemic that has blurred the lines between office and home life for masses of workers.
“While before I sensibly finished anywhere between five and half-six, I would have tired myself there on a Friday at 8 o’clock at night, thinking I needed to prepare something for Monday and not I have time, and I actually started working on weekends, “Frostick said in a telephone interview from his home in Dorset. “That’s my responsibility. I think that’s probably where I’ve been blurring boundaries.”
“We all wish Jonathan a full and speedy recovery,” said HSBC spokeswoman Heidi Ashley. “The response to this topic shows how much this is on people’s minds and we urge everyone to make their health and wellbeing a top priority.”
Frostick said he and colleagues spend a disproportionate amount of time on Zoom calls, and working days can extend to 12 hours. Remote work isolation also takes a toll, he said.
“We just can’t get those other conversations off a desk or from the coffee machine, or go for a walk and go have that conversation,” he said. “That has been pretty intense, not only in my work, but across the professional services industry.”
The former construction worker took a different path to finance than many of his peers. A native of Bournemouth, an English coastal town, he worked in his father’s construction business and did not receive a bachelor’s degree until he was 29 years old.
When he arrived in London, the self-described country boy had to learn how to use the Underground subway system, and mix for the first time with ballet and theater afalionados. From there, he went down a path of intense work that included strings in Accenture Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co., UK government ministries and Deutsche Bank AG. He cultivated a so-called mask, in keeping with corporate culture.
Frostick, who has three young children, said he was responsible for overworking and neglecting his health which led to the heart attack. Now he wants to share his wake-up call with others.
“I have a responsibility to myself and other people,” Frostick said. “This happened to me, this could happen to you. You need to change that.”
He wants to drive a conversation around the post-pandemic work culture and hopes that employers will take a more flexible approach. In the job, Frostick promised to make changes, including limiting Zoom calls, restructuring his way of working and spending more time with family. The post received almost 200,000 likes and generated thousands of messages from people rethinking their approach.
Frostick is still recovering from a hospital stay, and has just enough energy to get out of bed for a couple of hours at a time. He enjoys time with his wife and children, and eventually wants to do more work on a dilapidated Mercedes. There is some talk of non-executive director roles or consultancy work. Someone suggested writing a book.
The decision to write the raw LinkedIn post comes at an uncertain time in his life and finances, Frostick said. He has increased the costs of a court case with his ex-wife over childcare arrangements for their daughter.
“My back is against the wall,” he said.
Still, he does not blame HSBC for its health problems and looks forward to future prospects.
“I don’t think this should reflect badly where I work, I think it’s fairly consistent across the industry, and I think that’s why it resonates with so many people,” he said. “If an organization didn’t want to employ me because I took a moment to reflect, and captured this, then it probably wasn’t the right place for me to be working.”