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Monday, 13 November 2017

On Noses And Grindstones.

I've noticed a pattern with many people of late that I think is rather....unhealthy, to say the least, and a little scary. But not altogether surprising, perhaps.

It's fairly prevalent with bigger charities and not-for-profits in general, I think, but certainly not exclusive to there, or always found there. It's also a lot more general than that.

Put simply, it's people being overworked. They don't have enough time in what they're given to do the work they need to do; so they stay longer hours, and work more, when they may not get paid for it. And it's a perpetual cycle, always playing catch-up, never getting through what needs to be done. There's always more.

And many companies will look at someone like this and go, "Fantastic! They're going through this work so quickly! Let's give them more work." Without really worrying about the potential dangers and difficulties that could arise from this. Yet this is almost the norm.

We could try and say that it's the people that are the problem, or that it's the companies that are the problem; but I think it's actually a little bigger than that. I think it's our philosophy that's the problem. Our philosophy of work.

I've talked before about how we tend to focus on work as the most important thing. And this tends to prevail, even if we say that family is more important, or friends are more important, or church is more important - sorry, they need to fit around work. Work comes first. There's an old saying that goes, "Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." Yet this is what we constantly do. And because of it, often, other things will begin to wear down.

The story of the family that felt distant from their father because he was over-committed to his work is an old one. But we don't feel any need to change it, it seems; though we do have more gender equality at least, it could be the mother or the father now. Or even both, quite often. And yet this is seen as okay. As normal. Necessary. How else could it be? Shouldn't we all be doing 9-5, five days a week? (Though some cultures/people would look at that and laugh at how little that is.)

Well, put simply, no. I don't think so. If you don't have a family to go back to and spend time with, then maybe that's a bit different, but really - it seems strange to me for people to spend most of their time at work, making money, so they can then get home exhausted, flop down and do it all again tomorrow. Where has the joy in life gone? People shouldn't be having to choose between rest, work, and family. Work should be constructed so that the people working there are healthy, not drained. People need rest, space, time. But the world of today seems to move too fast to understand that.

I think that work should look a lot more like job-sharing - where you do it for two days a week, someone else does it three days a week, or something like that. Maybe you do mornings, they do afternoons. But, of course, the price of living is built around people working ridiculous hours. That's the problem. Particularly if couples want to raise children - it's typically not financially viable if they're not both working, often full-time.

I don't really have an answer for this one. I'm hoping that a combination of job automation and some sort of universal basic income will help. But it's hard to say. And it's harder to say when that might happen. But hopefully, in our lifetimes. I don't want to bring children up in a world hell-bent on working them to death.

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