Humans II

This is the second guest post from Andrew Jordan. I will shut up and get out of the way 🙂

“I’m interested why people work. No, not the money. I take that as a given. I mean why people choose to do what they do. Why they end up being brain surgeons, elephant chiropodists, cheese couriers, asphalt rollers, hot air balloon designers, curling tongue [surely tong? Anthony] testers etc. Why do people do what they do ?

I ask this question largely because Anthony talks so much about the inefficiencies and frustrations of the workplace. But one thing I’ve never heard him talk about is actually why people are there in the first place. I know why I worked there, but why does everyone of the 55,000 other people work there ? What do they get from their work ?

There’s clearly not a simple or single answer to this. People do what they do for a whole host of different reasons. Human interaction, a sense of fulfilment, delivering something meaningful to a grateful audience, a corporate goal of some sort, they’re all something I’ve seen in people who turn up to work.

But here’s a theory. Most people don’t want to be there. They put up with work. They imbibe the monotony and allow themselves to be frustrated and bored because there is either no other option (in their view), or else they do not have the inclination to find something better or different. I worry about this. It’s not healthy. In fact, it ends up being extremely damaging to both the individual and the employer who has them sitting in their office.

I wonder what would happen if you took money out of the picture. If people could really do what they really want to do. How different society would be if you just allowed people to be who they are? Would we have a lot more writers ? More sportsmen and women ? More cheesemakers ? How would society look and how would it interact if you couldn’t find people who wanted to work in Sainsburys ? And, most disturbingly, how many people would do NOTHING ? Of course, we’ll never know.

What would you do ?”

I have some strong views on why I work and how I do what I do. It has sod all to do with my job title. I will doubtless rabbit on later in the comment stream.

When considering Andrew’s question, I also asked, what makes me human?

Humans I

This one is a departure, it’s a guest post, the first of two written by Andrew Jordan, aka @speedcheese on Twitter and as food blogger (seemingly retired) @fridayfood. Andrew is a technology evangelist, extremely serious cyclist and proper culinary expert.

I should point out that my utterly fabulous team are about as un Brent like as it is possible to be.

Andrew always comments challengingly and amusingly here. For this and the next post it is over to him.

“It’s taken me a week to decide, as Anthony’s guest blogger, what to write about. Of course, I have reviewed several examples of our vernacularly jousting for an inkling of what makes Hampshire Man tick but all I came up with was a distinct feeling that:

a) he doesn’t like work very much,
b) he doesn’t like the internet very much, and
c) he has a dog.

Now, clearly that is somewhat career-constraining, especially if you wish to pursue a job with an internet. Thankfully, he doesn’t and, thanks to me, he follows an altogether more traditional career living in a Brent-esque enclave surrounded by far too many people who are busy doing not enough about very little.

I digress. Anthony makes some very serious points about human behaviour and the way in which, owing largely to an internet (there – said it again), technology, and a society obsessed by telling itself about itself, we are at risk of declining into losing all sense of where we are, why we are there and, above all, who we are with and why we want to be with them. It’s all very confusing.

I write this as I am fired in a steel tube at 600mph across a large stretch of salty water. Reflecting over the past few days that I have spent with our portly and somewhat overly-confident brethren, I realise that their society has not quite found sanctuary in such frivolous yet pithy online intercourse. Yes, they Facebook (vb.), Tweet, Pin and Link like the best of them yet, when it comes to work and home life, they clearly value the basics of human social interaction. They go to sport together. A lot. They talk. They eat together (not each other, for the most part). They like being sociable. They talk. They like to see humans in the flesh. They’re happy to shake your hand. They ask how you are. They don’t really mind what you’re wearing, nor why you’re there, although they really like your accent, as long as you’re British. They smile at you, and not because you’ve done something wrong.

Yet it is “they” (I love “they” – it is so useful) who invented Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Foursquare and MySpace. Somehow they’ve managed to do that without losing sight of the faculties that your friendly local deity entrusted you with when you were sloshing around in the womb.

I like the fact that Anthony has kept Amazon’s hard copy department afloat by researching this whole area on our behalf. I’m sure Carlos The Forester from Peru is most chuffed that another acre of his woodland has just been chopped down by, rather ironically, a company called Amazon. But there’s no replacing the fact that, despite some very clever people with some very clever names having come up with some very clever things to say, it actually ends up with me, sat in a bar, with Jim-Bob and Billy talking about the LA Lakers. That has more meaning, with less technology, and with more sincerity, than anything you will find in your local Facebook. In the office, the same is true. People come to see me. They don’t phone. They don’t email. They don’t try and contact me using an internet. They simply come to my office and say “hi, how ya doin’ “.

And you know what ? I love it.”

I hope you enjoyed this, Andrew is like that in real life 🙂

Humans II follows soon.