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Meaningless work

Pseudo-work – how did we get busy doing nothing
WORK / Why are some "incompetent" employees deliberately set to do meaningless tasks? And are all the leaders as important as their high salaries suggest?


Bore-out is a new diagnosis. It affects people who have too little to do at work. The Danes Dennis Nørmark and Anders Fogh Jensen together found out that this was something they had to explore. They discovered that in recent years there have been several books about meaningless work. They interviewed several of the authors, and after their book was published in Danish, they came in contact with many people who felt that they had too little to do at work and / or that what they were doing was meaningless. The results of the survey have now been published in Norwegian with the title Pseudo-work – how did we get busy doing nothing.

Constant reorganisations and preparation of new visions and logos.

A tearing technologyso-called development has led to the simplification of many work tasks. This has led to restrictions among those who carry out practical work "on the floor". But it has not led to the same number of redundancies on the office side. It can be difficult to assess how efficiently work is done at a computer, and there is no objective measure of how long it should take to create a good report. In such a situation, laws and unions also prevent people from being made redundant.

At the same time, some "incompetent" employees have been deliberately put to do meaningless tasks. According to the book, many managers will also show their importance by having a large administration. There are thus several reasons why people are given too little to do Jobone. But no one dares to talk about it, and many come up with various tricks to pretend they work. The combination of fear of being redundant and a lack of experience of doing something meaningful can become a psychological burden that ends up in a bore-out diagnosis.

Marco De Angelis. Italy-Rinnovamento. See Libex.Eu

Comprehensive reporting

Another form of meaninglessness followed in the wake of new public management. This meant that all types of businesses set concrete targets which were then to be controlled. This resulted in extensive reporting. But those who reported experienced that this feedback often did not cover what was most essential in their work. In particular, there have been protests from the school and healthcare system against a system that is best suited to industry. In addition, a lot of time is spent preparing action plans, quality control routines and various reports which often have little practical significance.

The same can apply to constant reorganizations and the development of new visions and logos. Although the biggest time stealer is often poorly organized meetings. The stressThe end result of this is that people don't get to do what is important, since they have to spend a lot of time on something they perceive as more or less meaningless. For example, the corona pandemic has shown us that it is health workers, shopkeepers, garbage collectors and other practitioners who keep society going, and reminded us of which work has high real value.

Preparing action plans, quality control routines and various reports that often have little practical significance.

In other books, work is described which is experienced as meaningless by some, but which others value highly. In Joris Luyendijks Swimming with sharks (2016) we meet someone who gives up after ten years of securities trading in the City of London. Although he had made a lot of money, he felt that he had never done anything of real importance. He started as a craftsman instead.

Nørmark and Fogh Jensen found that there is no less pointless work in the private sector than in the public sector. They question whether all the managers are as important as their high salaries suggest, and point out that the so-called management courses are often a form of dubious entertainment. A proposal to strengthen our mental health is that we must once again value trust, and that we must detach ourselves from the senseless control bureaucracy.

Keynes and the citizen's wage

The book starts with a reference to Keynes, who predicted that we could have gone down to a 15-hour work week long ago. Technological developments mean that we should have more time for fellow human beings, culture, nature and personal development. This book shows that we actually have it, but that we are unable to organize our working life so that we can concentrate on the essentials. Introduction of civil wages is a proposal that can help us into a better development. Then each individual person will be able to manage their time as they consider most meaningful, and we can talk more openly about the work situation without fear of being without income. This book can be an important contribution to the question of the necessity of separating wages and work.

The book is written in a light, almost humorous tone, but without overshadowing the seriousness of the subject matter. The many examples make the issues concrete. It should therefore be a good starting point for consciousness-seeking conversations for most people workplace#s.

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