A Call for Fewer Dead Workers

Here’s the deal: *Our beliefs about work – forty hours, Monday through Friday, eight to five – are outdated, outmoded, out to lunch. Every day people go to work and waste their time, their company’s time, and their lives in a system based on assumptions – about how work gets done and what work looks like – that don’t apply in today’s global, 24/7 economy.

We go to work and give everything we have and are treated like children who, if left unattended, will steal candy. We go to work and watch someone who isn’t very good at their job get promoted because they got in earlier and stayed later than anyone else.

We go to work and sit through overlong, overstaffed meetings to talk about the next overlong, overstaffed meeting.

We see talented, competent, productive people get penalized for having kids, for not being good at office politics, for being a little different.

We go to work in the Information Age, but the nature of the workplace hasn’t fundamentally changed since the Industrial Age. But most of all – most tragically of all – we play the game.

We play the game even though we know in our heart of hearts the game doesn’t make any sense.*

We’re going to go out on a limb and say something controversial: We want people to live. We want the workforce to be filled with alive, mostly healthy people. And yet, according to a recent study, a third of the population of the U.K., and over 40 percent in the U.S., regularly sleep less than five hours a night, and that lack of sleep can be deadly. Get that little sleep and your risk of “cardiovascular death” doubles.

Studies like this make us wonder: How much worse does life have to get before people push back? How much freedom and control can our jobs take from us before we say “Enough”? It’s not as if employers aren’t getting anything out of the employer-employee bargain. You are doing your job, not collecting charity benefits. And yet people are giving up sleep in order to work longer hours in the hopes their “dedication” will be rewarded.

We need a new way of thinking about, and doing, work. We need work environments where your work performance is not judged based on time. We need environments that look past the old game of flexible work schedules and trust – really trust – people to control every second of their day.

If you need sleep, then you can get sleep. If you want to have breakfast with your child, you can – without asking anyone’s permission to come in “late”. There is no need to be up at 6:30 a.m. just because you have to be at work at 8:00 a.m. You can take a nap in the middle of the day. As a result, you work when you’re rested and ready to contribute, and you rest when you need to rest. As long as you get your job done, you are not a slave to the clock.

The answer is a . Any takers?

*excerpt taken from Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson