New job can lead to self-exploitation – economy

work differently

The SZ series “Working differently” explains what you need to know about the future of work and shows which companies are successful with their ideas and which are not. All episodes can be found on this review page.

The term sounds a bit dated, like an old early 90s Walkman you found in some chest: work-life balance. Nowadays, the idea behind it is quite antiquated: a work-life balance, and therefore also a distinction between a person working between 9 am and 5 pm and a person spending their free time before and after, during weekends and holidays.

The fashionable term for the 1920s is: a new job. And it often carries with it the exact opposite of the old idea of ​​balance: in the new world of work, the boundaries between work and leisure are blurred, everything is one, so balance is not necessary. And man is always the same person no matter what he does.

It sounds good at first. Personnel managers, start-up founders, and company executives who love New Work methods love nouns that hardly anyone opposes: self-determination, democratization, flexibility. To this end, they are currently experimenting a lot, for example with the free choice of workplace and location, with unlimited holidays or with teams that choose their bosses, salaries or colleagues. As long as workers are doing their job, they should have as much freedom as possible.

work must change. work will change

Experimenting in the world of work is good because work has to change. Not only that, but especially the years of the pandemic have shown that work as it is now simply makes too many people happy. And work will change. Industrialization at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries resulted in a large-scale spatial and temporal separation between work and life. Instead of working on a farm or in a bakery, people would go to the factory at certain times. Today, digitization is taking work back home, with a home office and the ability to respond quickly to your boss before going to bed. Work always changes with new tools.

However, if you want to make sure that your job is not only different, but also better, you need to think very carefully about the ramifications of all-sounding New Work models. Managers with certainly good intentions in the first place are easily deceived by the feeling that they are doing something good for their employees and keeping them in that state, or finding new ones more easily – while the opposite is often the case. Therefore, it is important to, for example, investigate the disadvantages of working from home and warn against them, such as loneliness or the danger that you will simply convert your previous commuting hours into working hours and thus work a lot more.

How companies organize their work says a lot about how they perceive people

All the ideas of job reorganization must not be used to conceal the fact that workers are working too much for too little money. Because the most important thing at work is and remains that people can finance a good life from their wages. And that they also do something other than work. A New Job can easily become a cover for one’s own exploitation. In the new world of work, it is no longer the manager who forces you to tighten a thousand bolts in 30 minutes – it is the employee herself who decides to do it of her own free will, because her colleagues, managers and the company do not want to fail and are committed to her shift. At the end of the day, she is just as tired – maybe even more tired, because personal responsibility is also a burden and there is no one left to blame for it. And those who are still struggling with work take less than more vacation days, even if their number is not limited.

How companies organize their work says a lot about how they perceive people. Anyone who assumes that people are basically good can trust them. And gaining trust is fun. But that’s exactly what the challenge is: the best employees, those who are truly passionate about their work, are also the first to burn out. Therefore, the most important task of managers must be to slow them down and protect them from themselves. So that the new job is not only new, but also better.

Another episode from the series “Work differently” read on May 3: What the Lifetime Working Time Accounts Bring.

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