This McKinsey Talks Talent on the Future of Work makes for an interesting listen.
That feeling of deep satisfaction at the end of a working day is rare for many workers across the world. We are alienated, and have been for centuries. We have to work in order to survive, but while we are told to love what we do and that our workplaces are our families, meaningful work that also pays the bills is harder and harder to come by.
A fascinating article in Vice.
Stowe Boyd writes two links in his recent newsletter that are worth reading in full. Collaboration tools are causing intense attention fragmentation – and the links he shares have ideas definitely worth considering.
Is that an oxymoron?
Really, if it’s work, can you love it?
And if you love it, is it work?
Pedantic questions aside, what is it that I really enjoy about my work?
For much of my last two decades, my identity has been defined by my qualifications & work. In direct contrast to how I thought of myself for the previous two decades of my life. I loved art, music, life in general. I drew my energy from the world around me, from books, from sketching & cartooning, from spending time in nature, observing things around me, curiosity driving many of my questions, & driving the adults in charge mad. I loved solving problems, words, cross-words, puzzles & math. I loved the idea of travel, the idea of meeting my idols, the idea of learning new things.
While I didn’t have much of a choice in the path I ended up on, it started a course of events in my life that didn’t make any sense at the time, but in retrospect, have been perfect. Maybe that’s the case of most people, if not everyone. For two decades, I tried to find every avenue to learn & do things other than what I had “qualifications” to do. Not being formally accountable for these things was a double-edged sword: I could experiment with my learning, but I would forever remain a dilettante.
Today, I find myself doing work I love. I get to work with words, help apply math to real-world puzzles & problems, to learn. I occasionally get to travel, & rather than just meet my idols, I get to meet amazing people every day.
What isn’t to love?
Ian Bogost suggests that we have turned Keynes’ idea of leisure replacing work into a parody
If you’re like many people, you’ve started using your smartphone as an alarm clock. Now it’s the first thing you see and hear in the morning. And touch, before your spouse or your crusty eyes. Then the ritual begins. Overnight, twenty or forty new emails: spam, solicitations, invitations or requests from those whose days pass during your nights, mailing list reminders, bill pay notices. A quick triage, only to be undone while you shower and breakfast.
Putting in those long hours? OECD research shows that the more hours worked, the poorer the productivity.
Margo Epprecht explains, quoting a woman who she admired in her first job:
“The business has changed,”… “It is not as intellectually challenging as it used to be. It’s more like cage fighting. Long-term investment today means a month; mathematicians convince themselves they can quantify risk in their arcane products that no one can understand; and fee structures are out of line with investor returns. No wonder people are cynical about Wall Street.”
Put this aside for the weekend if you have to, but read it now if you can. Especially if you are an employee.
I run a solid business, and I don’t think I’m going to run out of employees or customers any time soon, so I’ll spare you the company-spokesman runaround — no, I don’t take responsibility for the state of their lives and I don’t see why I should. Particularly when they don’t take much responsibility for their lives themselves.
This might be fiction, but it might not. Consider it, & make up your mind.
David Graeber finds that despite John Maynard Keynes’ prediction in 1930 that technological improvements would result in 15-hour work weeks in the Western worlds, that utopia is far from achievable. Instead, he thinks technology has been marshalled to make all of us work more, rather than less, in what he calls “bullshit jobs”:
rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.
Definitely worth a read
James Altucher on Living the Counterfeit Life
Because nobody wants to work.