Posts Tagged ‘corporations’

A Corporate Career Makes You Less Than Human

October 9th, 2012 No comments

When we take a corporate job we are aware that we give up certain parts of our life in exchange for our salary, that we are making a compromise. But we rarely re-examine this compromise once we have worked a job for a time, and ask whether it is still worthwhile, or whether the balance has tipped too far. For the security of a salary dominates all considerations of the compromise, and we forget to ask what the work we do for corporations does to us.

Because for most full-time corporate career jobs, I consider the exchange to be a bad one. To work for a corporation (and I don’t consider this an exaggeration) is to diminish your humanity. Work in one for too long and you forget many aspects of what it means to be human.

Corporations demand loyalty that is never returned

Your boss may be a nice person. She may be someone who, outside of work, treats her family and friends with kindness and generosity. But if she is your boss in a corporation she cannot and will not treat you in this way. At least not sincerely. Your boss is not your friend.

True friendship requires loyalty. But if there are redundancies or ‘company restructuring’ your boss will not put themselves on the line for you. They won’t even want to talk to you, out of shame. This has nothing to do with whether they are a decent person outside of work or not. They are prevented from being loyal by working for a corporation.

If a friend treated you in this way, you would rightly want nothing more to do with them. But as an employee of a corporation, you put up with such bad treatment of yourself and others, like the victim of domestic abuse. You say nothing of being asked to work hours of unpaid overtime, or to take holiday at times of the corporations choosing, or to take work calls at home from countries in different time zones. So long as you still have your job you say nothing. Even if you lose your job, do you shout and complain, and ask if this is all your deserve for your years of loyalty? You do not, for fear of a bad reference.

Corporations make you subservient in a way you would never endure outside work

Look at how we react when, through no fault of our own, we know we are going to be late for work. We are desperate to call our boss to excuse ourselves, and if we can’t get hold of them we worry about how that might affect their opinion of us. Why do we worry so? If this was a friend we know we could explain that the train was delayed and that they would understand. But with a boss we worry they do not trust us, we worry we are going down in their estimation, that this will be a black mark against us. Then we stay late to make up the time, but do not view this as having paid back the time.

Corporations take control of your time

That we hand control of our time to a corporation is a terrible thing. Control of your own time is a pleasure that we do not even realise is missing until we work for ourselves. To start and finish work when we like, to take a lunch hour when and for as long as we like, to go to the cinema in the middle of the day if we feel like it, to make keeping in touch with friends as important a part of our life as our work, these are all marvellous things that we do not even know that we are missing.

A corporate environment is the opposite of what you need for creative work

Business leaders can be often heard declaring the need for creativity from their corporate employees – they need creative ideas to fuel the next generation of their business. But creativity within a corporate job is almost impossible.

Creative ideas comes from daydreaming, from an unspecified length of time spent musing on an idea, from unpredictable influences out in the world. None of these are to found whilst sitting at a desk burdened by a list of tasks. Unless you are Jonathan Ive<> you are very unlikely to be paid to sit around daydreaming for a large part of your working week. Each penny the corporation spends on your salary must be accounted for.

In addition, the structure of corporations sucks out creativity from tasks within its working day where you might be able to use even the smallest of your own ideas. If furniture is to be moved around an office, corporate employees cannot just rearrange as they like. Corporate rules insist this is done by trained removers, trained in health and safety guidelines, to avoid litigation for employee injury and to keep insurance premiums down.

Corporations are not doing this to be awkward – this is how any large organization has to work. But it dampens your creative spirit until you forget you had one.

You do not have to work for a corporation. If you feel you would like to leave, but cannot because you need the money, then stop needing the money. Or at least stop needing the same amount of money. Leave the corporation and take back your humanity.