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5 New Rules of Work

May 11

I’m usually a big fan of Fast Company articles (in fact my friend Lars Schmidt is now a regular contributor to FC and his stuff is awesome!)but this one seemed like the biggest contrived piece of new-aged garbage, I just had to share!

The article has a great premise: These Are The New Rules of Work.  You know, one of those articles that will show us all how we use to do work and how we now do work. Well, maybe, but also how we hope we could do work like they talk about in magazines like Fast Company, but we really don’t because we live in the real world.

Here’s a taste:

Old Rule: You commute into an office every day.

NEW RULE: WORK CAN HAPPEN WHEREVER YOU ARE, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

Cute, but I actually work at a job where we go to the office each day, like most people in the world. So, while it would great to work in the Cayman Islands, my job is in Flint, and if I don’t come in, I don’t get paid. Which makes trips to the Cayman more difficult.

You get the idea.  It was written by a professional writer, not by someone who actually works a real job. Writing isn’t a real, normal job. When you write freelance, you can actually work from anywhere, because you basically work for yourself!

Here are the others:

Old Rule: Work is “9-to-5”

NEW RULE: YOU’RE ON CALL 24-7.

Well, you’re not really on call 24-7, you choose to be ‘connected’ 24-7, there’s a difference.  I do believe that ‘leaving’ your job at the office was a concept that was overblown for the most part in our parent’s generation. They claimed to do this, but only because they didn’t have email and smartphones and laptops. Let’s face it, our parents would have been just as connected given the same technology.

Old Rule: You have a full-time job with benefits.

NEW RULE: YOU GO FROM GIG TO GIG, PROJECT TO PROJECT.

There’s no doubt there is a rise in the use of the contingent workforce, but this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily chosen by the worker.  True, thoughts have shifted that many people no longer want to work at one company for forty years, but much of that has been shaped by companies and economics. When you live through an entire decade of layoffs and downsizing, you begin to think of the work environment as more transient. The crazy part about this mindset is organizations still feel like candidates should want to stay at a company for forty years, even though they can’t, and won’t, guarantee that for you.

Old Rule: Work-life balance is about two distinct, separate spheres.

NEW RULE: FOR BETTER OR WORSE THE LINE BETWEEN WORK AND LIFE IS ALMOST ENTIRELY DISAPPEARING.

This is the one rule I actually agree with.  Again, from a day when you could actually separate yourself from your work and personal life. In today’s ultra-connected world, it becomes very difficult to do this. I think most people get tired of living two separate lives, and just want to live one. This is who I am, professionally and personally, take me a whole person, or not.

Old Rule: You work for money, to support yourself and your family.

NEW RULE: YOU WORK BECAUSE YOU’RE “PASSIONATE” ABOUT A “MOVEMENT” OR A “CAUSE”—YOU HAVE TO “LOVE WHAT YOU DO.”

This is actually the single worst piece of advice ever given to mankind! Bar none.  If this was actually the case, how do you think anything would actually get done on this planet? How would store shelves get stocked? Gas stations get to run. Your dinner gets cooked and the dishes washed at your favorite restaurant? Do you really feel there are folks “passionate” about washing dishes for you? That they want to wash dishes for your cause of having a chicken fried steak and gravy for dinner?

Get some freaking perspective.

I think it’s great if you can work at somewhere you’re passionate about, good for you. But it’s definitely not necessary for you to have a great life. Have a cause that is special in your life? Perfect, go for it. You know what really helps most causes? Money! If you have a job that makes great money, just imagine how you can truly help that cause.

So, what do you think about these ‘new’ rules of work?

6 Comment to “5 New Rules of Work”

  1. I agree with your critique of this article on the assumption that the context of the rule-set is a cross-section of the current labour market. However, I don’t feel as if that was the author’s intention. I interpreted the ‘rules’ as being indicative of the gradually changing behaviour of employees in specific labour markets, such as tech, as a consequence of technological advances. I also believe that the headings are somewhat exaggerated to reflect the dystopia of an entirely integrated work/private life.

    It’s difficult to argue with the suggestion that more people are working remotely than ever before. Also, I feel like the assertion that our parent’s generation ‘would have been as connected if they possessed the same technology’ is somewhat fatuous. The reality is that they didn’t have email and were not sent work-related messages at all hours of the day, as a lot of people are. However, I entirely agree with your point that the compulsion to check emails is self-inflicted and not a ‘new work rule’.

    J Buckley
    May 15, 2017
  2. …da hell! I love stocking shelves… I’m kidding about the rage, but I do love to stock and organize and report and analysis… This article is for people who don’t have this type of life, but wish they did. Problem is, none of it really exists all together the way the article would have you believe.

    Gina
    May 12, 2017
  3. Ummm how does on call 24×7 work in relation to work-life balance? How effective are you really when you haven’t connected with a co-worker for the past 4 weeks (because you are in the Caymans)? Be passionate about doing a good job – if you hate it get another one.

    Rachael
    May 11, 2017
  4. How about being passionate about having food, shelter, and a few amenities for you and your family? The problem with that last one is a lot of folks actually believe it!

    Steve Carmine
    May 11, 2017
  5. Ohhh, man, I feel the same way about that last item. It’s so condescending.

    It’s time to flip that thinking: look for meaning in whatever you do. It can be nearly as condescending if not stated in the right way, but at least it’s meeting people where they are rather than telling them they’ve failed because they’re serving coffee rather than saving the whales or something. What are you learning? How are you making other people’s day better?

    One of my favorite quotes is from Bill Russell, whose father told him, “If you’re going to be a ditch digger, be the best ditch digger out there.”

    Ane Ohm
    May 11, 2017
  6. Great piece that removes the wool from eyes of many professionals who blindly agree with content that is misleading or downright wrong. Nice job Tim.

    May 11, 2017

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