The last two years has seen significant shifts in the way we work and we all know why, Sars 2 was the culprit and though we are close to leaving the state of pandemic, the disruption of home-working is here to stay. Many companies report employees so reluctant to return to their desks that it is the employee and not the boss who is calling the shots.
This of course does not go for people who work with their hands or whose jobs require them to be on site. But there is a further disruption that seems to me to be gaining ground and is not so welcome. The call for a national holiday to celebrate or mourn is epidemic and as another ten days of productive work has been disrupted by the death of the Queen, I ask – is this what she or we really want or need?
The rhythm of the working week seems to have changed, we have TWAT, the phenomenon by which Mondays and Fridays get relegated to homework and effectively slide into the weekend. The monitoring of productivity on these days is variable at best.
Meanwhile, the recognition that once we reach 50 , we start slowing down has translated into the loss of nearly one million workers aged from 50 to 65 from the labour force altogether.
Work is being disrupted to a point where many of us lose the will to do a job at all. I appreciate that there are health consequences of the pandemic, but I don’t accept that they include the demoralisation of the work ethic that we are seeing today.
I write against the accepted wisdom that argues for an improved work – life balance, well-being and the recognition of physical and mental vulnerability, all of which points towards a tolerance of disrupted work patterns.
But I suspect that for many people, the loss of the rhythm of work that happened during lockdown has not been recovered yet and is unlikely to be recovered until we become a lot more resilient.
Are we redundant?
I suspect that much of the problem for those over 50 is an increasing feeling that we are not adding much value at work. Can what we are doing be replicated by an algorithm that does what we do better, cheaper and 24/7?
Every white collar worker must be asking this question of him or herself. But this challenge from the machines we build is one that can be easily overcome – by remembering that computers don’t have a sense of humour,
The great capacity to keep smiling and motivating is a joy that computers cannot bring, but it’s one that this blog can!