How we measure changes not only what is being measured but also the moral scaffolding that compels us to live toward those standards. Innovations like assembly-line factories would further extend this demand that human beings work at the same relentlessly monotonous rate of a machine, as immortalized in Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times. Today, the control creep of self-tracking technologies into workplaces and institutions follows a similar path. In a “smart” or “AI-driven” workplace, the productive worker is someone who emits the desired kind of data — and does so in an inhumanly consistent way.
Sun-ha Hong, “Control Creep: When the Data Always Travels, So Do the Harms”
I have the privilege of working at a place where remote work has been a fact of life for some of our employees and fellows, whereas the bulk of us have worked out of a beautiful workspace. Obviously, the pandemic has forced everyone out of the office and into their homes and, with that, has come a forced realization that its important to get a lot better at handling remote work situations.
For the past few months I’ve been trying to collect and read resources to ensure that remote-based work, works. To date the most helpful resources have definitely been the huge set of resources that Doist has published, and their ‘book’ on leading distributed work forces in particular, as well as some of the publications by Steph Yiu based on her own remote work experiences at Atomattic. I’m also slowly working through some of the work that’s come out of Basecamp, and I’m keen to dig into Remote: Office Not Required over the fall.
Some of the most valuable stuff I’ve picked up has been around re-thinking which communications systems make sense, and which don’t, and how to develop or maintain a team culture with new and old colleagues. And some of these things are really basic: when someone joins an organization, as an example, rather than just saying ‘hi’ or ‘welcome!’ over chat, all members of a team can instead state who they are, their position, some of their areas of responsibility, and one or two personal things. By providing more information the new team members start to get a feeling for what the rest of their team does and, through the personal attributes, a sense of who they are working with.
Given that many of us are likely to be working from our homes for the foreseeable future—and some of us permanently, even after the pandemic—it seems important for employers, managers, and employees alike to think through what they want to change, and how, so that we can not just enjoy the fact that we’re still employed but, also, that we’re working in ways that provide dignity and respect, and which are designed to best help us succeed in our jobs. We’re all 5-6+ months into the pandemic and we should be very seriously asking what kind of world we want to inhabit both throughout the rest of the pandemic, as well as afterwards, and we can’t keep saying that things are ‘unprecedented’ to excuse not trying to make our work environments better suited to the current and future realities we’re within.
The great irony of the criticism around Trudeau’s family vacation is that politicians keep talking about work-life balance, and specifically about how to attract more women to Parliament and to high-placed corporate jobs and boards. Jurisdictions around the world have changed the sitting hours of their legislatures to align with the school calendar and to eliminate night sittings.
One wonders what message women interested in federal politics drew from the coverage of the Trudeau family vacation: maybe “Don’t even think about taking time off with your kids.”
The message isn’t just sent to women interested in politics, but to workers more generally: you can have whatever work-life balance you’d like, so long as that balance doesn’t upset productivity (or your manager) in any way.
I often end the work week with the feeling that, although I’ve got a lot done, I’d need another whole week just to catch up. And thatâs before I deal with the stuff that Iâll be facing the following week! It’s easily solved, right? Work late, work the weekend, and just pull more hours. Wrong. Youâre probably setting yourself up for a bunch of problems down the line if you tackle it this way.
As I read this, I saw myself described in paragraph after paragraph. I hadn’t realized how damaging my work behaviour was getting until a month or so ago, when every day was laced with stress resulting from ‘no down time, and too much to do.’ Life was seriously out-of-kilter.
Fortunately I got some relief. A major burden was relieved, slightly, and I’ve been able to breath. I also saw the result of my ‘work ethic’ after it was maintained for months and years on end: I didn’t like what I saw, and worried about the long-term effects.
As part of my recently ‘normalized’ work schedule, I’m actively trying to leave work at work and not bring too much home. The result has been that I’ve been a more productive writer in the past month than I had been in the preceding three months. Sure, I was pounding out ‘rote writing’ at a impressive rate, but the insightful or interesting stuff needed when writing the conclusion for my dissertation just wasn’t coming to the surface. Fortunately, it’s coming at a rapid rate these days and I also get to (try and) enjoy myself for a few hours each night with non-work related things!
Source: Don’t Be a (Work) Hero