Modern work by many accounts is becoming dissatisfying and stressful. To mitigate the feeling, experts tell us to find the true purpose of our work. But are we making the mistake of searching for the “why” of modern work when we’re desperately in need of answering “how”?
In the early 21st Century, our jobs are truly dissatisfying. We find the endless meetings and emails routine and dispiriting. The challenges with modern workplaces go beyond distraction into something more substantial. The Mental Health Foundation says that 74 percent of Brits felt overwhelmed by stress at some point last year, with work being the biggest cause.
It’s no wonder. Since we all started taking emails on our mobile phones the average working day has lengthened by two hours. By some estimates, workers who are expected to stay connected to their colleagues are clocking up over 70 hours plugged into the office each week.
Bruce Daisley, Vice President - EMEA at Twitter, recommends a few things to fix, according to a feature on BBC.com. He has written a book, “The Joy of Work - 30 Ways To Reinvent Your Work Culture and Fall in Love With Your Job Again.”
He says the exhortations of self-declared visionaries like Simon Sinek on the higher purpose of work are unhelpful.
Sinek achieved fame and recognition from his insistence that millennials needed to understand the “why” of work before they could commit themselves to the endeavors involved.
“Great companies don't hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them,” Sinek declared.
An increasing number of employers are seeing their workers take them to task on the disparities between what was promised to them as candidates and the realities of their jobs. The Google walkout in 2018 followed Susan Fowler’s Uber blog post as another high-profile milestone on a long road of workplace discontent despite lofty answers to the ‘why’ question.
Daisley recommends “small changes.” He says the “how” of our work is more important.
The biggest burden of work for most of us is that cursed time spent in meetings. The simple act of halving the number of people present can be an act of mercy.
Also taking a proper lunchbreak three or four times a week is proven by research to improve decision making and reduce the Friday fatigue that plagues so many of us
Going further, borrowing the Swedish tradition of fika by taking a walk with a colleague as part of a routine to get our daily dose of caffeine appears to have positive effects.
Introducing a new meeting to the calendar might seem counterproductive when we’re trying to declutter the working week, but the power of social meetings is gaining currency. Socializing helps us attune to our work better and feel better about it. When work is unrelenting, being hung up on the lofty goal of “why” we work won’t help; maybe right now we need to focus on “how.”