Chris Bucci: What should we seek from our work?

Alain de Botton: A feeling of meaning: One of the great sources of satisfaction in work is the feeling that we are making a difference to people's lives, that we have - at the end of the working day - somehow left the planet slightly healthier, tidier, saner than it was at the beginning. I'm not necessarily talking of huge changes; the difference might merely involving sanding a stair banister, removing the squeak on a door or reuniting someone with their lost luggage. Industrialisation has made some of these feelings of helping others far less accessible, simply because of scale. Take biscuit manufacture. I spent time looking at the U.K.'s largest biscuit manufacturer, which employs 15,000 people across twelve sites in the land. Making biscuits used to be an artisan's task: it would be done in a small workshop, and those making the biscuits would see and perhaps even know those who bought their products. This is hardly the case now at United Biscuits, and it helps to explain the feelings of lassitude and occasional despair I picked up on, especially in departments like those dealing with accounts or transport where a worker is very far indeed from sensing the ultimate 'meaning' of their activity.

Then again, a lot of your satisfaction at work is dependent on your expectation.
--Chris Bucci, Alain de Botton with Chris Bucci (& very sharp look at the workday world)

See also.

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