I’ll do your work, just loosen the leash
By Laura Alden, Contributor
After freelancing for three years I finally landed the dream: A nine to five desk job with a view, real weekends, and two weeks’ vacation.
It only took six months for the glow of nine to five security to wane. Maybe it was the crammed commute, or the fluorescent lighting, but it wore at me like sand on stone. I grew tired of my closed-off colleagues who only discussed weather, movies, and hobbies. More than that, I was tired of answering the insensate question, “How was your weekend?” Which my head had twisted into an utterance of defeat, a question that led to a lie, because no one ever answers, “Well, I crammed all of my needs and wants into those two days. I’m exhausted from the short rest my employer and the world were so kind to schedule me.”
This nine-to-five system goes as far back as the late 1800s and was fought and clawed for with bloody, tired hands well within their right to live a life with eight hours of work, eight hours of leisure, and eight hours of rest. Those hands are long passed now, and our automation will soon pass us, so what’s the hold-up with the review? With all our texts, our phones, our emails, why are we still paying people to be in a specific seat if they don’t want or need to be? When asking
these questions to other nine-to-fivers I receive mostly blank stares, or the glare suggesting I’m trying to “beat the system” with my antics. Heaven forbid I get to work in any more comfort than I already do!
I understand: The workforce must work, but can’t we let go a little? Are we afraid that if we let out employees out of the office they will never return? Can’t we just remember our universal need for occasional real-time connection, or those two lovely things called debate and negotiation?
We easily forget that we created this system and can always create more wiggle room. Of course, we must look at each case individually, and that takes time and connection—things perhaps we are starting to forget we have. The choice between security and freedom is nothing new, but technology can help us fill the gap if we just choose to trust one another a little bit more.