Creating a Better Workplace

Tuesday Sep 14, 2010

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To be upfront and honest, I work for a multinational corporation. My company used to be small and was birthed from a company well known for their ethics and the treatment of their employees. It was then acquired by the aforementioned multinational corporation who then acquired another small company and merged us together. In my 3 years with the company, I have visibly seen the degradation into what I can only imagine is the fairly (stereo)typical corporate workplace environment. One which for the most part is a fairly unfulfilling way to spend 8 hours a day.

We’re taught to believe that money is the only thing that matters in business. We all innately know that this is incorrect, but I still see it all around me. People think that if it pays the bills and then some, then they’ll tolerate the crap at their work. People also separate work from their personal life, leading them to endure work and using the money they earn to work towards their goals in their spare time. This is, of course, a futile effort in the pursuit of happiness. With work being the place where we spend most of our waking hours, it is essential that it is contributing greatly to our happiness while we are there.

As a nation, we all need to increase the standards of our workplaces so that they better fulfill us. One of the things I’ve been working on lately is better defining what I want out of life. Here is what I’m working towards so that my working life and my creative output are most fulfilling for me.

  • One of the main things I’m working towards is for my working life to become more integrated into my life as a whole. I spend so much time at work, while at the same time, it stays fairly isolated from the rest of my life. I’m not that passionate about my job, and that has rippled effects throughout my life. I want a job that is inspiring and fills me with passion. More precisely, I don’t want a job, I want my creative output to be play and something I would do anyway. Right now, I go to work, and then have to fit my passions, social life, and everything else into the small amount of time that’s left. If my work was my passion, than my schedule would be freed up immensely. I also want my business relationships to be deeply integrated into my life. I have visions of small town businesses where you know your customers and are part of your community. I also have this same desire in my role as a consumer, as I want everything to be more local so I can meet the grower of my foods and the producers of the products I consume. I have a desire for my work to visibly contribute to the benefit of others rather than to be a small part of a long convoluted chain, where I never see the fruits of my labor.

  • I want to work in an environment where everyone has equal power and there aren’t hierarchies of authority and power. All organizations (including companies) should be comprised of individuals who actually want to be there of their own free will as opposed to being coerced into being there or into doing things. No one likes to be forced into doing stuff they don’t want and we shouldn’t tolerate that from the companies that we form or in the coworkers we work with. It is all too common, for managers or anyone with authority, to step into the role of the decider, a position made famous by George W. Bush, where it’s more important to be a strong leader and make decisions than it is to make the right decisions. The idea behind this is that it maintains cohesiveness and steadies a rudderless ship and that any forward motion is better than no forward motion. The problems though start to arise when the decisions start to be made farther and farther away from the people who have the most experience and perspective of the situation and also the people who will have to deal with the ramifications of the decisions made. The act of leveraging the power they have gained from the authority of the corporation causes both subpar business performance but more importantly is demoralizing and demotivating to all those who are trivialized. This is the death knoll of the organization as the employees stop trying and do just enough to collect a paycheck. Growth and profit are the harvests of the productivity of the creative mind. A metaphor of life and liveliness as creativity is the product of joy and self-motivation.

  • I want to only work in a state of bliss. I know, that’s a little vague and pie in the sky, but that’s where I’m heading. To accomplish this, it needs to be recognized that performing work can be joyous and that the work I need to perform to be joyous changes over time. When I look at my workplace as well as others, I see people who are shoe-horned into performing the same tasks repeatedly. This fulfills the needs of the employer, but not the needs of the employee. I’m certain that a workable arrangement exists that can meet the needs of both employer and employee. I’m also certain that the company would receive much more value from their employees if they had them working on things that excited them, despite their changing nature over time.

  • The working environment as a whole should be beautiful. Far too often, working environments are cheap, sterile, and bland. It is essential that we work in a place that satisfies our sense of beauty, that furthers our passion and contributes to the joy we feel while at work.

  • I want to decouple my time from my work. Firstly, I want to work when it’s suitable for me to work. Traditionally, you show up for a fixed period of time and that’s when you work. This doesn’t work well for me as it forces me to work at times when I am less productive, perhaps when I am still tired or motivated to be working on something else instead. I also want to decouple the money I make from the time I spend working, to spend more time working on passive incomes streams that provide value to large numbers of people over a long time.

There are many bloggers who I follow who are very inspirational to me on this subject. I’ve been a long-time reader of Steve Pavlina as he’s very open with his life in a manner that allows you to easily envision yourself in his shoes. As an entrepeneur, he is very successful and I appreciate his insights. Everett Bogue of Far Behind the Stars and Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens are both bloggers who focus on minimalism. While Steve Pavlina inspires me to build stuff up, they inspire me to pare stuff down, to strip the extra baggage out of my life thats been holding me back. Along with Cody McKibben, from Thrilling Heroics, they are all young bloggers, who I could imagine becoming, who work for themselves and who have structured their businesses in ways that allow themselves a tremendous amount of freedom.

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