Work Culture

Published: 2020-08-20

I have held exactly one "serious" job thus far, so my perspective is bound to be a bit offset from the norm (if such a thing exists). That being said, I have to wonder about Work Culture™, especially in the tech industry.

Work Culture

A mode of thinking and social culture characterized by the following (this is a non-exhaustive list):

  • A belief that losing one's job is a catastrophe.
  • A belief that one should not partake in certain activities that might negatively effect one's "employability."

A notable example of that last point is not taking time off to do whatever you want, also known as taking sabbatical in more polite circles. Taking, let's say 1-2 years, off work is seen as a negative because when employers ask you why there's a 2 year gap in employment what will you say?!

(Coincidentally, as I write this, I've jus hit the 2 year anniversary of leaving my last job)

Would you prefer a life boat or a parachute?

These are terms often used in the context of job loss to describe helping soon-to-be-unemployed people find a new job before they drown or hit the ground at high velocity. At least that seems to be the metaphor implied by such phrases.

An example: A site to help employers find newly laid off employees. Sounds pretty neat, and it may well be pretty neat.

This is just one example, completely anecdotal., but its a reflection of Work Culture and therefore useful to this author for illustrative purposes.

The product itself is not the point. The point is the implicit metaphor. You were flying high and now you're falling, the only way to keep from hitting the ground is to find a parachute (in midair I suppose).

Or to put it more simply: "No work. Bad!"

This is not necessarily the case.

Work Culture Considered Harmful... me, of course.

So, what's the harm?

Work Culture is building up a dogmatic belief that employment is good and necessary. To be sure, we all need food and shelter. In modern economic society this requires some amount of money, but full time, salaried employment is just one way to acquire money.

Let me be clear. If you lost your job or left your job and you want a new job then by all means you should get one. If you have help along the way all the better.

Where I feel Work Culture has gone too far is in promoting full-time employment as the way to live ones live. Work Culture says "You're unemployed, oh no!" In reality, not having a job is a tradeoff, and by definition a tradeoff has both downside and upside.

It is by not acknowledging the upside that Work Culture is harming people.

Clear decision making requires clear thinking. Work Culture, as described in this essay, does not help people think clearly.

Am I Anti-employment?

Up until this point you're either nodding along or, much more likely, you think I'm completely out of touch with actual job loss. Perhaps even anti-employment! That's not the case.

Helping people find jobs is good. Not giving people room to consider their options is not good.

Thus I've been capitalizing Work Culture as if it's some deeply insightful term I've invented because I want to refer to a specific culture, a specific mindset, which has some negative implications for clear thinking and living the best life for you.

In a situation such as job loss it might be worthwhile to take a moment and consider the situation without a negative stigma.

As Robert Glover suggests, try asking yourself:

How would my view of this situation change if I saw it as a gift?

About me

I write about life as well as my mistakes and successes as I learn to build a business. I'm building a self-funded startup (Pairwise).

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