Friday, November 21, 2008

When work and play are no longer distinguishable

This extraordinary piece of design is the Din-ink pen lid eating set created by Andrea Cingoli, Paolo Emilio Bellisario, Cristian Cellini and Francesca Fontana. It was one of the winners of Design Boom's Dining in 2015 competition. 'Very clever' I thought when I first came across it ... but then I remembered how often I've seen my friends and colleagues working through their lunch hour to keep on top of ridiculous deadlines all designed to make their bosses richer or more successful. And I realised that this design is a perfect metaphor for the skewed work/life balance that many of us accept as the norm.
I see this often with one of my daughters who works for a large supermarket chain as a department head. Sometimes she goes to work at 6.30am and gets home at 10pm. When I ask her why she works such long hours - many of them unpaid - she tells me that 'If I don't do the work, no one else will and I'll have twice as much tomorrow' or similar horror stories. Then I look at her wage compared to the billions of pounds her company makes in annual profit and I become very cross. I believe in working hard, doing your best and becoming good at your job. But I also believe in people being paid a fair wage for the work they do. Large companies (and retail is the worst) prey upon people's natural professionalism and desire for promotion in order to get far more work out of them than is fair. My daughter knows that if she doesn't keep up the pace she's working at the moment, she won't get a further promotion. But she is often working 10, 12, even 14 hour days to keep the quality and quantity of her work so high. The result is that she's permanently exhausted and her social life has become almost non-existent. And now she's so tired and fed up that she's looking for new jobs. So, who's the loser in the end?
Okay, rant over.
If you like good, innovative design then check out GadgetDNA - a great website. I am a regular visitor.


doctawho42 said...

Wicked cool design for those pen/cutlery things.
That website is just scary though, half the stuff featured was floating safely in the relms of science fiction a few years back.
When I say scary, I also mean I am deeply enthralled.

The work ethic, Stevyn is society's new religion (stolen from that book, "How to be idle", but still a good point). That said, I also share the view of doing good work, and being excellent at your job, you just can't be expected to give everything up for it.

That sucks about your daughter. I expect I shall have to enter the work-force soon.

Debby said...

I know that it is not an issue for you, but the American issue is say Walmart or big oil companies (obscene profit margins) who do not bother to provide health care for the vast majority of their employees by one loop hole: they never allow them to work 40 hours, limiting them to 38 or 39. They are not full time employees, the company is not obligated to offer benefits.

The latest fou-fra over the 3 auto execs flying in separate private jets to beg for a government bailout illustrates the difference between the few at the top, and the masses at the bottom of the food chain. The damned Republican view that 'we must take care of big business, because ultimately big business takes care of our people' is bull.

Because you are British, you become cross. Because I am American, it pisses me off. Sorry.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Docta - Didn't Arthur C Clarke once say something about advanced technology being 'indistinguishable from magic'? I love the fact that the stuff we have now would have gobsmacked someone from the Victorian era ... so what would we make of technology 100 years from now?

Debby - I've never begrudged anyone being rich. Good luck to them. I'd like a bit of that myself. But I have little time for those who get rich on the hard work and sweat of others. That's just unfair. And yes, in my stiff-upper-lippy British way, it really does exercise me. I'm awfully tetchy now.

chris hale said...

You're absolutely right about the expectations some companies have of their employees, and on the whole it's pretty disgraceful. In some places it's a reverse 'race' to see who can stay at work the longest to get a few extra brownie points. Some wag once recommended leaving a jacket on the back of your chair so it looks as if you are still about.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Chris - I've heard the same jacket story. It's a sad, sad thing.