Work, A History of How We Spend Our Time – brilliant book by James Suzman!
A must read for all, yet I am still in the first third of reading of this book.
Since I am nowhere near climax, a review or an overall gist from book cannot be presented at this juncture in this space now. But, so far I could understand, author is claiming ‘Work’ in its current form, that is ‘check-in 9 AM – Check-out 5 PM’ format, is a recent human invention.
A product of industrialization and factory work culture.
Working for a fixed time, within a confined space, under a tight hierarchy of managers and supervisors, lead by CXOs (CEO, CMO, CFO, COO, etc.), is our current understanding of work. Author is explaining, that, this was not the case years back. Years back means before pre-industrial age.
We used to be hunter gatherers, or, we belongs to the forefathers of hunter gatherers. They had needs and wants, which was fulfilled on the requirement-driven basis. When they were hungry, killed few fleshy animals and ate it. There was no refrigerator, there were no export business, so there were no hoarding and hence no selfish interests of playing with human emotions and lives for perpetual wealth creation activities to eternity, so that their kids from generations can and eat sleep doing nothing. If you and your family hungry, get out in the forest, take your stone, learn to throw it sharp and hard enough to kill the prey. Very simple.
Then we entered to agriculture style, where almost all of the currently existing stuffs started establishing. Family bindings, idea of society, belonging to a permanent place, even nationalism to its very raw stage, all can be attributed to this time. Agriculture needs lands, lands needed fences to identify borders and borders resulted disputes among neighbors. Quarrels to fights to battles to wars and diplomacy.
Fast forward to present day, the very notion of ‘9AM-5PM’ is challenged by its own creators and getting replaced to ‘24×7 Work From Home’ culture. Thanks to a virus that changed world from upside down and downside up.
Stay at home, use your laptop, mobile phone, Microsoft teams, zooms, WhatsApp. Get instructions, do the work, update the work status, submit the work. You, work, your boss and your customer – A new ecosystem. This is for someone who is lucky enough to retain a job; what about others who lost it or laid off or furloughed? They are constantly uploading resumes in numerous job portals and emails, and hoping to cross luck and destiny somewhere.
Work started as something to fulfill our immediate needs, evolved to fulfill our needs, then to fulfill our wants, then to fulfill our wishes, then to fulfill our fancies and now to fulfill our fantasies. Evolution is evolving further, work will have few more definitions before the word itself will be evolved to something entirely different, unrecognizable, that nobody will recall that it was called ‘Work’ once.