Does Work Make You Miserable? We Need to Learn to Live Again – Says Anne Coote in the Guardian

In a Guardian newspaper opinion, “The fetishisation of work is making us miserable. Let’s learn to live again,” Anna Coote writes: Mounting pressures at work are taking a heavy toll on life at home. Employees say their bosses want them to put job before family, and many are expected to be on call around the clock. More than one in four say they work longer hours than they want to…”

While you may not agree with the entire article or Anna Coote’s economic policy recommendations, there is a lot of truth in her analysis of the economy itself. For example, she describes the state of stress accurately (for most urban workers in big cities at least):

“an economy where high levels of stress and anxiety are normal, where people get ill because they’ve lost control of their time, where marriages are damaged and children suffer. And yet, it’s a picture we’re invited to applaud. Our political leaders idolise “strivers” and “hard-working people”, not “chilled-out, caring dads”, for example. The longer and harder we work, the more admirable we are supposed to be.”

When corporations are measured based on quarterly earnings and growth at all costs, it is obvious that “stress” will trickle down to the people who work there. Unless we change the what we value, we cannot change anything else. We must go back to first principles:

“Growth calls for greater productivity: getting more output per unit of input. The system is greedy for more resources, but workers and machines have to do more for less. More efficient processes (including more robots) reduce the amount of human input required. So those who have jobs must work harder – and longer hours – to hang on to what they’ve got and to keep the economy growing.”

Anna Coote gives us an example of something very simple that demonstrates how our values play out:

“I am old enough to remember lunchtime. When my workmates and I went out to a nearby eaterie for at least an hour, scoffed a proper meal and probably a glass of wine. These days, like most worker bees, I stay at my desk with my fork and Tupperware pot, nose glued to the screen. And I‘ve become so mesmerised by the modern working culture that I’d be quite shocked to find a colleague dining out at lunchtime. No booze, no siestas, no playtime.”

There is so much talk about automation, but Ms. Coote points out:

“…since robots can’t do everything yet, there are new flurries of low-end jobs with zero-hours contracts, insulting pay and no security. This class has been called the “precariat” and much of it thrives on the over-busyness of other workers. It ferries people home at night (Uber), delivers fast food (Deliveroo) and fixes things around the house (TaskRabbit). Many precarious workers have to do two or three jobs just to make ends meet. So they are under heavy pressures too, often torn between poverty and an intolerable work-life balance.”

I really encourage you to read the whole article on Guardian, but I’ll leave you with this one line that really resonated with me:

“…we could build an economy that enables people to flourish, instead of one that is entirely fixated on growth.” is centered on this vision. Yes, we admire ambition and chutzpah and vision. But we also want to make sure people flourish. That’s why we talk about essential human skills (the ones that separate us from the robots), and why we help you find work that lights you up and pays the bills.

We are here to fight the good fight against the status-quo. In an ideal world, all of us will find work that brings us meaning and joy — not just work that pays the bills. Read the article and tell us what you think.

The fetishisation of work is making us miserable. Let’s learn to live again | Anna Coote | Opinion | The Guardian


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