HomeTag: work

Dying to work.

[Barry-Wehmiller CEO, Robert Chapman] takes three points and puts them together. The first point, which is consistent with data reported by the World Economic Forum and other sources, is that an enormous percentage of the health care cost burden in the developed world, and in particular in the U.S., comes from chronic disease — things like diabetes and cardiovascular and circulatory disease. You begin with that premise: A large fraction — some estimates are 75 percent — of the disease burden in the U.S. is from chronic diseases.

Second, there is a tremendous amount of epidemiological literature that suggests that diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome — and many health-relevant individual behaviors such as overeating and underexercising and drug and alcohol abuse — come from stress.

And third, there is a large amount of data that suggests the biggest source of stress is the workplace. So that’s how Chapman can stand up and make the statement that CEOs are the cause of the health care crisis: You are the source of stress, stress causes chronic disease, and chronic disease is the biggest component of our ongoing and enormous health care costs.

Jeffrey Pfeffer on workplace health.

2021-01-06T08:24:59+11:0028th January, 2021|Tags: , , |


Why do we all now work so damn much? Touches on everything from precarity to how state “workfare” has force-flooded the labour market (driving wages down in the process) to the self-actualisation-via-work that drives overwork among the professional classes.

2020-12-21T07:53:54+11:009th January, 2021|Tags: , |

Got things done.

As someone who remembers they heyday of Getting Things Done and the rise of productivity porn, I did enjoy this retrospective.

The short answer here is that—contra the beliefs of early 2000s 20-to-30-something tech libertarians—personal “productivity” cannot actually compensate for institutional failings (shock horror I know), and as the original GTD set have aged this is something they’ve learned the hard way. Or, in other words, no amount of bullet journals in the world is going to replace joining a union.

See also: Agile, et al.

2020-12-08T08:20:47+11:0029th December, 2020|Tags: , |

Office work.

This feels kinda weird to be posting from lockdown, but. Well. We live in weird times(And, hey. Fingers crossed that by the time it de-queues we’re all back to blowing our spit all over each other in our cube farms as normal…) Update: Sadly no.

(Also forever thankful that I live in a country that has bathroom stall doors that actually line up properly because seriously wtaf America?)

2020-07-10T07:09:51+10:009th July, 2020|Tags: |


[E]mployers now “demand a workforce that can think, talk, feel, and pick stuff up like humans—but with as few needs outside of work as robots. They insist their workers amputate the messy human bits of themselves—family, hunger, thirst, emotions, the need to make rent, sickness, fatigue, boredom, depression, traffic.” The results are “cyborg jobs,” and they account […] for almost half of the American workforce. The hidden moments of reclaimed freedom that make any job bearable are being discovered and wiped out by bosses everywhere: That trick you used to use to slow down the machine won’t work anymore; or that window of 23 minutes when you knew your boss couldn’t watch you is vanishing. Whatever little piece of humanity survived in these fragments dies with them.

Gabriel Winant on the ratchet.

This, incidentally, is why I’m extremely skeptical of Bernie Sanders-style oldskool “full employment” socialism.

We shouldn’t be aiming for full employment; we should be aiming for no employment, for a post-employment world.

2020-01-22T09:18:13+11:0019th May, 2020|Tags: |

Hustle porn.

A YC founder once said to me that he found little correlation between the success of a YC company and how hard their founders worked. That is to say, among a group of smart, ambitious entrepreneurs who were all already working pretty hard, the factors that made the biggest difference were things like timing, strategy, and relationships. Which is why Reddit cofounder-turned-venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian now warns against the “utter bullshit” of this so-called hustle porn mentality.

There’s something especially insidious about higher-ups using their own extreme work habits as a model for their staff. I’m a big believer of leading by example, but most leaders have a support system and resources that allow them to recuperate from their hard work. They live close to the office, get frequent massages, have healthy food made for them, have really good childcare, personal assistants, and much more. That’s how they stay sane and avoid burnout.

But many of their employees don’t have the same benefits. And so after working 80 or 100 hours a week for months or years at a time, they burn out. And maybe they did productive work for a time, but they pay for it with their mental and physical health.

Jason Shen on hours.

Remember, kids! Burning everyone out working for capital is the number one way of reducing the general population’s ability to participate actively in democracy!

2020-01-24T07:46:03+11:0024th January, 2020|Tags: , |


Just as the American employment picture became more dystopian around the turn of the millennium, so too have books on careers divested themselves of the optimism of [Richard Bolles’s 1970 book, What Color Is Your] Parachute. Or so it seems to me. For example, in 2007, Stanford professor Robert Sutton wrote a little book about creating civil workplaces and gave it a memorable title — The No Asshole Rule. It was, he says in the introduction, at least in part inspired by his personal experiences. As he puts it, he wished to find ways of avoiding “the petty but relentless nastiness that pervades much of academic life.” (After that book became a bestseller, he found, as he notes in his 2017 book, The Asshole Survival Guide, that he suddenly went from being known within academia as a scholar of the psychology of business and management to international recognition as “the Asshole Guy” — that is an expert on the bullies and jerks who abound in office settings.) Another perennially popular title (also from 2007), Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek caters to disillusioned workers who have ceased to believe that there is any hospitable workplace. It jettisons the idea of work as vocation, and instead encourages people to spend as little time and energy as possible earning a paycheck.

The whole world of career books, then, seems to reflect a sense among readers that a “dream job” is not a realistic goal.

Rachel Paige King on work.

2019-09-03T11:53:12+10:0029th December, 2019|Tags: , , |
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