The struggle for the future of work is about autonomy

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The future of work renewal

The late anthropologist David Graeber wrote that nonsense work is “a kind of paid work that is completely meaningless, unnecessary or harmful, so that employees cannot justify its existence.” Corporate lawyers, public relations consultants, and managers are all examples of him. Garbage collectors and health workers do work that is beneficial to society. Without them, the world would fall into chaos.

The pandemic has exposed the gap between nonsense and useful work by elevating the status of “essential workers”. Despite the haze of the early blockade, there is some comfort to see M&A lawyers in their positions (many of the steps are lower than the stackers of supermarket shelves).

A sort of Learn An unselected nonsense job was published this summer and hinted that the worker’s sense of uselessness may not be “a direct manifestation of the social value of the job.” Rather, it is “a symptom of poor management and toxic workplace culture.” In the wrong environment, the basic staff may also think that they are engaged in garbage work.

If the “manager is micro-managed,” employees are more likely to think their work is useless. .. Said Brendan Burchell, a professor of social sciences at the University of Cambridge and author of the study, especially if they are not doing their job well. Autonomy can reduce the possibility of you seeing your work as nonsense.

The pandemic highlights autonomy—or lack of autonomy. Many of our freedoms—meeting friends and family, traveling, and even hugging—are restricted. However, for many white-collar workers, working more flexibly proves to be liberating.

With the reopening of offices, disputes surrounding white-collar work often pit the workplace against the family. But I bet that for many employees, this is actually a struggle for autonomy. Emma Stewart, director of development at Timewise, a flexible work consulting firm, said: “If you remove the reasons why people want flexibility, you will find that they want to control the number, location and time of work.”

Skye Robertson, chief operating officer of Escape the City, said that many white-collar workers describe their experience of working from home as “more mature” and that the company helps people find alternatives to the company’s work. “People will be less willing to go back to the hierarchy.”

I am not Poliana. For those who perform micro-management at a distance, there is little liberation for remote work, including key technology. Frontline workers have little flexibility.

But there are good reasons for people to better control their work and life. Studies have shown that it can reduce stress, the risk of heart disease, and improve performance. It can even suppress the appetite of those who crave power. A study shows that “people desire power, not to become the masters of others, but to become the masters of their own fields and control their own destiny.”

People at the top of the organization tend to forget the situation at the bottom, almost deliberately turning a blind eye to autonomous advantages. A senior lawyer may decide to set an example by coming to the office every day. But they can disappear to deal with personal affairs without being affected-this right usually does not extend to junior colleagues.

This gap in autonomy passes Polls A survey of attitudes towards flexibility conducted by the global research company Gartner. “72% of executives agree that they can develop their own flexible work arrangements with their managers, while only half of employees think they have the same privileges.”

Even shift workers can better control their time. Providing advance notice of time preferences and schedules allows employees to have greater planning capabilities. “One of the paradoxes of the entire labor market [is that] People say they want autonomy, which is one of the keys to getting people to work hard,” Burcher said. “We are not telling employers that they need to pay more, it should be straightforward. “However, there is stubborn resistance, he added.

The pandemic has shown the value of autonomy. Let us hope it extends to work.

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Pilita Clark returns next week

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