Hello and happy weekend y'all.
Yes, the weekend.. that time when there is no alarm, and you can gently wake up and do whatever it is that you want to do with your day. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?
Shame it is only two days long. But thankfully it comes at frequent intermissions, 5 days off two days on..
Yes, you guessed right, today I want to take on the work-week, or more precisely our work ethics in general.. If, like me, you listen to a lot of podcasts you may have noticed that there has been a lot of talks lately about working. And more precisely, how it may change, how it is already changing and some even on whether we should maybe stop. The latter suggested from a 'guardian books' podcast talking about the book title 'Not working: why we have to stop' by author Josh Cohen. I really want to read it.
I recently realised that the 9-5 working hours was a construct from the industrial revolution, when workers had to synchronise productions, work at the same time at machines, match time of suppliers and deliver produce in time. Of course, you might say that the work day could be traced back to agriculture too, but I think that there is a difference : in the agricultural world you have to work following the rhythm of nature, rising and sleeping following the sun, animal needs and schedule. You look after other living beings.
Of course, nowadays we are not all farmers or all industry workers.
Yet we are still following the 9-5 (or 8-5 or even worse, 8-8), still stuck on the system of clocking in and out, usually having a ‘forced’ (obligatory) unpaid lunch break. Not just in public job places, where you are giving a service and thus you may require a timetable, but also on jobs that require your thinking, like for example being a researcher..
why do I think that it totally doesn’t make sense?
I will give you myself as an example: I know well that I am most productive between 7 and 10 and then again between 15-20. I can even be productive at 10 pm ...yet I feel that it would be a bit weird if I stepped out of the office at 10 to go and do something creative, or use it as my exercise time, or whatever else that I fancy doing (rummaging through vintage shops?! Or maybe a art exhibit?! - okay wouldn’t be that feasible given the location of my current office, but one can dream and situations can change). My students wouldn’t know where to find me, my ‘PI’ would think I am a slacker , other people may start looking at me with suspicion.
So I waste time instead, attempting to be productive, beating myself up when I am not..
Complaining about the current job situation would even be seen in a very bad eye, as unemployment rises we should feel lucky to work.
And I am lucky that my job somehow can encompass my creativity and can be an outlet for my brain , what I do is stimulating as I think of new ways of framing my results, what they mean , what does it mean for the bigger picture , and asking all of the ifs and whys and developing experiments to answer these new questions. And I see students improvement , their achievements. It is extremely rewarding and again I am extremely lucky. But what about others? What about someone who has just as much creativity and thinking capacity as me but maybe has to serve coffees because there are no better jobs out there , what about a very creative person which is stuck ‘stacking boxes’ in a warehouse and maybe will write that book once (s)he gets home at night (but then it’s too tired from the manual work to let any of the creativity out) ? While there are some great advice to maintain your creativity while working a normal job, I believe it is still quite hard...
This job attitude is not just killing potentials , and creativity, is also making our society a fast consuming one (take away and fast ready meals might be more appealing if you have no time), same are supermarkets . In fact even fresh counters at supermarkets have had to close because people prefer the convenience of frozen version or ready packaged cause there is not even enough time to interact with someone behind a counter.
But if we reshuffled things a bit we could have time, I could go to farms and shop on an extended break instead of leaving it to my Saturday morning (when I am around), and so could other people. Maybe we should consider flexibility. Maybe we should change our patterns. Maybe we will all be a bit happier and the planet will also benefit. Stop running through our days as if we are running on a very fast treadmill.
I would love to hear what you think. What job are you in? Are you happy? And how would you like it to change ? Is it too late to change society ??
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