Posts tagged ‘Careers’

March 20, 2012

The “New Normal” for jobs – a start

I disagree with the author of this Daily Beast article, “Job Market’s Tough ‘New Normal’: Some Careers Aren’t Coming Back,”(http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/02/job-market-s-tough-new-normal-some-careers-aren-t-coming-back.html) in characterizing what the future of jobs is going to look like, although I agree with the premise.

First of all, he characterized jobs being split between men and women in a stone age kind of way: men lift heavy things and women work in offices. And I think it’s an oversimplification to say we’re moving towards a service industry by and large. I think the service industry is bloated right now as a transitional phase as we need to go back into innovation and technology as our populace transitions in education and training to meet those needs.

But it is true that many of the careers that have worked for the past fifty years are not going to be particularly good for long-term growth. And there does need to be a new normal.

One of the more interesting articles I’ve read in the past couple of days talks about the 40-hour work week, another pet interest of mine. In “Why We Have to Go Back to a 40-hour Work Week to Keep Our Sanity,” (http://www.alternet.org/visions/154518/why_we_have_to_go_back_to_a_40-hour_work_week_to_keep_our_sanity?page=entire) the author describes the different number of hours of safe and productive work that apply to different professions. The knowledge worker, turns out, is better on 6 hours of work rather than 8 hours. There’s a lot of historical background in this article and a good summary of some of our current challenges.

I would posit that a real new normal for most jobs would look something like this: 12 hour workdays, two 6-hour shifts with two different people (job sharing approach), real full-time salaries for both, European standard 4 weeks of vacation to start, and one month paternity/maternity leave standard.

In my company, as in most, we are global and have meetings that run into all hours to accommodate our team members’ schedules. A 12-hour work day would make it possible to pretty much make global partnerships run more smoothly. With two people working as a team to share a job, they could be more productive as they ferment ideas between one another and play off of each other’s strengths and development needs. More productivity would mean that companies could afford to pay each individual a real salary. There are studies that I’ve read that discuss the value of teamwork versus individual contributors – I am going to look those up and post about them in the next blog entry. Four weeks of vacation is pretty self-explanatory. There is a very good reason that it is the law in Europe. Finally, the paternity/maternity leave is just a pet peeve of mine that I want to throw in. I was only given three days paternity leave and had to take another five of my vacation for my son’s birth and I could have really used a month. As it was, he was not a sleeper and I felt like a zombie for six months anyway, but having the first month with him would have helped a great deal since my wife had a long and painful recovery from the birth.

I’d love to get some feedback on this plan – it’s obviously very rough but it just seems so right to me…

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