The fact of the matter is that from a very young age, we get it drilled into us that through school and university the end goal is to get a good job. We’ll spend hours writing essays, reading books and memorising information for something that still seems like an eternity away.
What about when you start working? When years of education have finally ‘paid off’ what happens then? Are you meant to feel automatically fulfilled? Like you’ve suddenly reached your potential, because working 9am-6pm is what you were meant for? For the 20 years I’ve been alive, whilst I’ve grown and become the person that I am now my father has been working the same job, in the same company. I’ve found myself unable to understand how one cannot be bored, or go crazy at the thought. We are people, we need change and diversity to keep us curious and constantly learning and progressing
Personally, I completely agree with the concept that every member of society should contribute in some way, to make us as a productive and enriched of an economy as possible. I think it’s an amazing concept that by coming together and working people can create growth in their country and build bridges into innovation, and where we all have a role in the machine that is being a functioning society.
My problem with this is the way that society expects us to do it, that everyone should get up early and make a daily commute to a workspace where they will most likely sit at a desk for 8-9 hours and be expected to be productive. In fact, this can lead to quite the opposite, being forced to be in a certain environment for a certain number of hours is detrimental. They say find a job you love in line with your passion which sounds great, but you can’t force passion, creativity and productivity.
I resent anything that I’m forced to do -sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day even if it’s doing something I enjoy- is not conducive to my happiness and fulfillment, it might even repress it. From experience I’m actually put off going into the field of doing the things I’m passionate about for fear that I won’t enjoy it as much if I have to. There’s a reason that going to work is referred to as something most people dread as opposed to look forwards to.
The 40 hour week (or much more in most cases) plus taking into account the time put into commuting to said workplace, which in busy cities like London can be over 2.5hours in the day, needs to be abolished. The concept was initially created Henry Ford in the 1920’s during the industrial revolution to ensure the smooth running of factories and the car manufacturing supply chain. In 2016 are we really still all thought of as factory workers putting in our time?
Every individual has potential, but I don’t believe we all fit into the 40 hour + model to reach it. It’s the 21st century; we need to find a way to overhaul and change up the way we work. We need something that works for everyone. At university work is set with a deadline, whether you reach your peak potential at 9am or 11pm it’s up to you as long as it gets done. For 3 years of our university career we get given this flexibility in work so why take it away afterwards? There have been years and years of research put forwards showing that everyone has a different productive cycle, so why is it that most employers don’t take this into account? Surely it’s all around beneficial.
Let’s take this example, we have John and we have Mary. Mary gets up at 5am every morning, goes for a run and feels amazing when she arrives at the office at 9am, for Mary working 9-5 is perfect and means that she can produce the best quality work in her peak hours, the system works for her. Next lets take John, John hates getting up in the morning, he rolls out a bed and gets to the office all bleary eyed and doesn’t feel like himself until about 12 and even after that he feels tired and sluggish all day. John gets home at 5pm and suddenly starts feeling productive; this is John’s peak time, but John isn’t in the office anymore and his working day is over so his wasted potential goes into playing Call of Duty instead.
We need to stop getting paid for our time but more so for the quality of what we can produce. I believe every individual should have the choice of when and how they want to work. Who wants to spend the rest of their lives restricted by a schedule? Spend every day just waiting for the clock to strike 6pm so we can go home and do it all over again the next day?
I want a change in the way traditional contract are written, I want flexible working hours, multiple work spaces, 24hour work spaces, variety and fluidity in the work system. I know it’s already a growing phenomenon but we need to make it bigger, we need to change ‘the norm’. Millennials have watched their parents go to work everyday doing pretty much the same thing their whole lives, we want to be excited to go out into the working world and make a difference, not dread being confined to spending the next 50 years of our lives enduring endless repetition. We want change in the system and opportunities to feel fulfilled in a way that works for us, not a way the works for the system.
Text by Maïté Owens
Picture research by Jonathan W. Espiritu; featured image taken from Common Sense Leadership.