#WorksOfLove — the research tour part 1
Adventures. Experiences. Joy.
Not words that you NORMALLY associate with work unless your’e an extreme tour guide; some kind of artist or performer; an explorer; an entrepreneur who hit the home run or a scientist breaking through a new cure.
However. And this is a big however. Work and the endeavours we are involved in that also happens to give us economic sustenance (i.e. money) can be adventurous, full of great experiences and can give us joy.
And not just the privilege of those involved in “knowledge” or office related work. Health and social care, construction, engineering and manufacturing. Service and retail, education and community / governmental administration.
Many would argue with me that the sewerage plant worker, the picker in the stifling warehouse or the beleaguered cleaner in the hospital might not experience ANY of this and their life is one of drudgery, demeaning tasks and draconian management.
There are alternatives. And some of that lies within the person in the job and some of that in the system that wraps around and directs that person in the job.
Which is why I’m now in the USA as part of a research piece and discovery journey for me which I aim to culminate in a published work: #WorksOfLove. This book will tell personal stories, share models and ways of working, and encourage a new word to enter into the lexicon of work: love. And if you don’t have even some love for what you do that earns you financial independence, then I want to help you rethink that.
- Not an exodus to odd-jobbing self employment (though many people love that).
- Not a patronising call to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.
- Not a hippy-like love-in calling for chanting and tie-dyed ways to counter grey suits and blandness.
No, I’m talking about a coming together of philosophies, methods and new ways to put the love and craft back into our jobs and work. Something all of us can do — whether we’re acting as an individual agent for ourselves, as a team leader for others or a company owner for everyone.
We have done a million things to get us to the disdainful point that over 80% of people report little or no engagement in what they do. And let’s not even go there regarding wealth inequality and social injustice. We’ve had enough. Yes many of us have prosperity and enjoyed a life we could only dream of growing up YET those with children are already seeing a lot worse for them. More debt, more dissatisfaction, more stress. We need more freedom, more fulfilment and more love. We’re literally damaging ourselves with disgruntlement.
Back to the subject of work and people loving what they do.
OK someone needs to empty the bins, but there MUST be something we can do daily, weekly or monthly to show our appreciation for this person who looks after our refuse or recycling. We can do things to overcome the outsourced distance, transactional blindness and even gross snobbery we see in how some of us see people’s work.
Meet Kim. Kim works in the evening hours because of the two children reliant on Kim. During the evening, Kim’s partner Ashley looks after the children’s needs then so Kim works at times many of us socialise. Kim had a good education, was reasonably sporty and had a good social life. When looking for hours that suited the childcare, Kim found low-paid, highly demanding long-hours work. So Kim took on the role of waiting tables. Kim did good and is now deputy manager. It’s low-paid still for what it is and Kim has to deal with a lot of transient workers who also wait tables who aren’t in Kim’s circumstances. They appear to resent the job. So Kim and the Restaurant manager talk to the people who are currently on shift and they find 3 things make them feel less than satisfied with the work.
- Customers don’t appreciate them.
- Colleagues have no real spirit amongst them.
- They can’t be creative in their work.
So they tackled the third issue of creativity and invited people to contribute to ideas to make the restaurant more fun, help create more of an atmosphere and even be more efficient.
They held a lock-in one evening where the team just got to know each other and shared stories. It was like the scene in Jaws where the 3 shark hunters get drunk. But without the dodgy singing.
They all looked at the restaurant’s cash flow and one of the waiting staff had an economics study programme under her belt. Some changes were made and the team chipped in with more additional tasks like marketing, tasting, menu creation and customer experience. One of the team even had web skills and built a new app for customer feedback.
They then became a no-tips company. Following the lead of another restaurant and instead invited customers to donate any tips to a charity they all believed in.
The entire restaurant took a morning off in October and raised money for that charity by odd-jobbing for other local businesses. The chefs ran an open afternoon where they taught young kids how to prepare and cook food. The waiting staff jointly studied behavioural economics and all of them achieved a degree-level qualification.
The restaurant became famous as a place where people could work, learn, share, be charitable, invent, be communal. Staff turnover was down, profits were steady and job applications were abundant.
Kim became restaurant manager when the existing manager left to set up their own consulting business and Ashley is expecting their third child in 3 months.
Now this is a work of fiction BUT is made up of extracts from stories I’ve heard work in other companies across the globe. Call it a dream if you like but it’s this kind of story I want my published work to influence. People take control of their destiny, worth and fulfilment and people who HAVE control work with other people to help create that. The only thing stopping us is ourselves and each other. We made this mess, we can unmake and remake it.
Who was it who said, “if you can dream it, you can achieve it”?
If you want to hear stories from many of the companies who have influenced this fable, then go to WorldBlu.com and check out the WorldBlu listed freedom-centred workplaces on the 2016 list.