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What happens at "work"?

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

“Going to work”

Could my workplace come to me?

Why do we need to go to work instead of the work coming towards us?

This signifies for the majority of the working population to get up in the morning, commute to the workplace, and after a day of work commute back home.

So far so good. But why someone who works in an office where every working tool is nowadays portable needs to commute and in the same time congest the streets or public transports?

A far-fetched explanation reaches back as far as the first industrial revolution(1765-1850). The manufacturing and production tools were placed in big buildings, the first factories, so that the employees needed to go to the working tools as they were too big to be moved. The administration staff, as far as this notion existed, needed to be close by, as in the 18th century the communication possibilities were not as developed as today.

With the continuous creation of factories, towns were formed and the exode from the countryside started, so that the employees could move close to their workplace.

The modernisation of the production machinery and transportation means continued quiet rapidly, and in parallel economists and philosophers wrote down their observations and propositions of how to improve the existing situations, and they proposed their theories. Names like Adam Smith, Frederick Winslow Taylor or Henry Ford regularly come up.

I just love to quote the often quoted John Maynard Keynes who predicted in his essay "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren" (1930) that the Great Depression would be followed by strong economic growth that would increase the standard of living eightfold within a hundred years in Britain and the United States, and that, as a result, the working week would rise to 15 hours per week because "everyone needs to work if they want to be satisfied".

With this Keynes really predicted partially the future! The standard of living grew not 8 times but only 5 times in the UK and the US, but the 100 years have not passed yet.

Following Keynes, the active population should work 15 hours a week , just to be happy and have a meaningful occupation.

The 15-hour-week might be technically feasible if the overall working culture was different.

A lot of full-time working employees are spending more time at their workplace than their contractual 40-hours a week. Why? Don’t they have a home or a life besides work?

Or are those the 15% fully engaged people from the Gallup study (State of the Global Workplace,2017) ?

There might be a cultural reason behind, as the last 3 to 4 decades big companies motivated their employees to spend most of their lifetime at the workplace and offered a sort of a second home while proposing food , games, “a big family”, common leisure activities, incentives … beside the regular or flexible working hours.

Apparently this trend is being reversed by reducing office space, offering more home office hours, and less “private” activities in the working space, to motivate their people to go home at a certain point in time every day.

In some sectors that have a strong seasonality, overtime in busy seasons is normal, but employees tend to spend a lot of hours at work, even in the low season, to show their productivity. No figures about their real output are published.

Through Berg’s Active Engagement Programme we can support your company during a cultural change and to find out about the internal efficiency of your workplaces.

What happens at the workplace?

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