Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen don’t believe we’ve truly changed the workplace through remote work yet, and this is part of the reason why:
“The one thing I’ll say is that yes, a lot of the erosion of any work-life balance is, it’s so thoroughly embedded in American culture that it’s not just that we have a hard time maintaining it or we don’t do a particularly good job of educating people about it; it’s that we value and celebrate the opposite of it. We value and celebrate the complete destruction of it.”
The workplace has developed this sense of work so deeply that it is not going to simply go away. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t seen this. Yes, we talk about work-life balance and we tell folks that they shouldn’t be working 60-70 hours per week, but then we turn right around and reward people who do. We praise their dedication when they are available and responsive over the weekend, even after we told them that wasn’t the expectation for the job.
And why is this OK, let’s grab another quote from the podcast:
I’ll just say that the greatest trick that offices ever pulled was convincing office workers that they’re not workers. That they aren’t labor. And instead that they’re doing what they love or following a vocation, a calling. And thus that exploitation is not something to be worried about, or to fight back against, or to understand as unacceptable.
What they argue for instead is a decentralization of our work. That rather than being the center of our lives and our time, work is simply a transaction. We give you output, you pay us. That’s it. It’s all there is.
That’s the revolution they are looking for. It might seem like a simple change, but it’s actually quite a different way to look at the world of work. It happens anywhere, it happens during a set time frame for some jobs, and during our own timeframe for others. We spend more of our time in activities that have nothing to do with work, with friends that are not also our coworkers, doing things that have nothing to do with our work because we aren’t dedicating every spare moment and thought to our “calling” and getting better at it. Go read more and listen to the episode. It’s interesting to consider.