Why We Work So Hard – Work and Leisure Today

Earlier, we wrote about the potential threat posed to the world by the emerging class of freelancers, or precariat. One of the features of the precariat is the irregular work schedule and the need to be immersed in the digital world. We blend freelance work with leisure, hence the boundaries between leisure and work are blurring. Sociologists try to explain why we work so hard and have less leisure time.

As Guy Standing puts it, “The growth of labour, work-for-labour and work-for-reproduction also eats into ‘leisure’. The loss of respect for leisure, and for reproductive and productive ‘idleness’, is one of the worst outcomes of the commodifying market society. Those who experience intensive work and labour find their minds and bodies ‘spent’ and have little energy or inclination to do anything other than to indulge in passive ‘play’. People who are spent want to relax in ‘play’, often by watching a screen or conducting a dialogue with a series of screens. Of course, we all need ‘play’ in some form. But if labour and work are so intense, we may have no energy or inclination to participate in more active leisure activities” (The Precariat: the new dangerous class).

This issue has prompted us to take a closer look at the current status of leisure and “doing nothing” in the modern world.

– What have you been up to today?

– Nothing. Just watching TV.

A typical dialog

Some leisure activities, such as watching TV programs or playing computer games, are equal to doing nothing in collective thinking. Technically such leisure does not fall in that “doing nothing” category. After all, watching movies and gaming require certain efforts, albeit for entertainment. 

A question on Quora: Why do most people just do nothing but watch TV

A search on Google for ‘leisure’ yields these definitions: 

  • time when one is not working or occupied; free time
  • use of free time for enjoyment
  • opportunity afforded by free time to do something

Whereas the first meaning traditionally correlates with time free from work, the “opportunity afforded by free time to do something” shifts the emphasis to “doing”.

“Doing” extends only to those activities that are beneficial in the eyes of society. Therefore, people who have managed to turn entertainment into work – professional gamers, for example – face bewilderment and reproach. Their activity has not yet gone beyond the realm of “idleness” and marginalized leisure.

This attitude to leisure has a long history and is associated with the cult of work. 

Protestant Work Ethic

Protestants have developed their work ethic, a religious doctrine that asserts the importance of hard work. They believed that labour and commerce are not only profitable economic activities but also a virtue. The desire to make money and create a profitable business was perceived by Protestants as fulfilling a divine duty. If income increases and wealth grows, this is a sign of blessing. According to Max Weber, Protestants achieved greater economic successes than Catholics because they were more inclined to business pursuits.

For six pounds a year you may have the use of one hundred pounds, provided you are a man of known prudence and honesty. He that spends a groat a day idly, spends idly above six pounds a year, which is the price for the use of one hundred pounds. He that wastes idly a groat’s worth of his time per day, one day with another, wastes the privilege of using one hundred pounds each day. He that idly loses five shillings’ worth of time; loses five shillings, and might as prudently throw five shillings into the sea. He that loses five shillings, not only loses that sum, but all the advantage that might be made by turning it in dealing, which by the time that a young man becomes old, will amount to a considerable sum of money.

Benjamin Franklin, “Hints For Those That Would Be Rich,” from Poor Richard’s Almanack (1737)

“Doing nothing” is condemned by society as a bad habit, unhealthy lifestyle that inevitably makes people pathetic and miserable. People who succumb to it for a long time are called “idlers”.

When searching “doing nothing is good” Google returns a lot of articles telling why it’s good and even introduces us to another Northern European trend called ‘niksen’, which literally means to do nothing. Their authors defend everyone’s “natural right” to be idle, just sit on a sofa, staring out of the window. Doing nothing becomes a cornerstone in the discussions about work-life balance. Doing nothing is even being declared a feminist issue (Why doing nothing is a radical act for India’s women – photo essay).

We are so tired at work that we have no energy left for “useful” leisure – only for nothing. But since doing nothing is condemned in many cultures, people try to justify and rehabilitate such leisure, first of all in their own eyes.

Human Capital and Leisure

In 1930 John Maynard Keynes published an essay called “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren”. The goal of his work was to answer the following questions: “What can we reasonably expect the level of our economic life to be a hundred years hence? What are the economic possibilities for our grandchildren?” By 2028, he predicted, the “standard of life” in Europe and the United States would be so improved that no one would need to worry about making money. One of the challenges people will face is how to fill their leisure time: “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem—how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won.” Keynes believed that the grandchildren of his generation would work about three hours a day as the technological change would make jobs more efficient.

But we don’t work 15 hours a week. What’s more, we work harder than ever. What happened? There is no exact and complete answer, but somewhat it’s a matter of human nature and our attitude to money.

Keynes could not foresee that today jobs would stop being a post of employment but begin to define identity.

A Wikipedia's definition of job as a person's role in society
Source: Wikipedia

In the 60s, economists turned their attention to leisure and efficient time allocation. One of them was Gary Becker, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. In Human Capital (1964), he argued that an individual’s investment in education and training is similar to a company’s investment in new machinery or equipment. He described human capital as “activities that influence future monetary and psychic income by increasing resources in people” (Becker 1994, 11). These include qualities like schooling, on-the-job training, medical care, migration, and searching for information about prices and incomes. Becker’s starting point was that parents split their time across investment in their child’s human capital just as entrepreneurs invest in the factors of production. 

Pierre Bourdieu, a French sociologist, pointed out to four types of capital: 

  1. Economic Capital.
  2. Cultural Capital.
  3. Social Capital.
  4. Symbolic Capital

Economic capital is a variety of economic resources that can be used by an individual – money, various goods, etc.

Cultural capital includes education, the authority of the university that the individual graduated from, the demand for his certificates and diplomas in the labour market. The cultural level of the individual himself is also a component of cultural capital. 

Social capital is an individual’s belonging to a specific social group. Relations with the upper class gives the individual more power and big opportunities in life.

Symbolic capital is what is usually called a name, prestige, reputation. Famous people have more resources to achieve their goals than those who are not popular.

Almost all kinds of capital can convert into each other. Thus, having symbolic capital, one can climb up the social ladder, thereby gaining social capital. Only cultural capital has relative independence. However, even having a large amount of economic capital, it is not easy to acquire cultural capital. The conversion of capital is carried out according to a certain exchange rate, which depends on the society and the state of the market. Various forms of capital give agents power over those who have fewer or none capital at all. 

Work-life Balance and Privacy

The concept of work-life balance emerged in response to workplace stress. Workplace stress has adverse effects on workers’ mental health, with an increased risk of burnout and depression. At the same time, this concept has become a convenient manifestation of the theory of human capital. In other words, in “life” you gain symbolic capital, at “work” you monetize it.

… benefits of work-life balance include the ability to effectively develop your work and social lifestyle simultaneously. This means there’s sufficient time to spend with friends and family as well as the chance to acquire new skills or further education while working.

Source: Cleverism – Work-life balance


Now and then articles explaining the importance of work-life balance suggest that we use our free time for personal development and learning.
In their terms, if you use your spare time to grow your cultural, symbolic and social capital, you can convert it into economic assets.


Even the idea of human happiness itself is inseparable from the “work-life balance” concept: you are good at work while you’re happy and sane. Simply put, an employee who feels good is good, and whoever feels bad is a bad worker.

Statistics show that stressed up workers are more inefficient; they work below their capacities.

Source: Cleverism – Work-life balance

Thus, leisure and idleness moved from private life, which traditionally was not subject to measurement and calculation, to the realm of economic efficiency. We are told to work efficiently and leave home issues at home. We should increase our human capital devoting more time to learning new skills to stay “marketable”.

Unfortunately, this resulted in professional competencies replacing real personal growth and that human qualities are being replaced by the properties of the labor force.

See also – If famous writers had CVs: Ernest Hemingway

If Famous Writers Had CVs – Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

What if history’s famous writers had CVs? We continue our series #FamousWritersResume with another candidate, Ernest Hemingway. Do you love his style?

Ernest Miller Hemingway

Journalist, novelist, short-story writer

Personal Profile

A hard-working and experienced writer, journalist, traveler, sportsman, soldier, and fisherman.

Contact

hemingway@gmail.com

942-856-324

linkedin.com/bell-tolls

Education

Oak Park and River Forest High School, 1917

  • Trapeze and Tabula (the school’s newspaper and yearbook), editor;
  • dabbled in sports like track and football but fell in love with boxing.

Self-education, 1918 – present

  • Self-education through classical literature and life;

Work Experience

The Kansas City Star, cub reporter

1917

  • covered deaths, trials, robberies, murders confidence games, prostitution;

Italy, World War I, ambulance driver for the Red Cross

1918

  • received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery;
  • wounded by mortar fire, returned home;

The Toronto Star Weekly, freelancer and staff writer, foreign correspondent in Europe

1920-1924

  • travelled extensively — 10,000 miles in one year;
  • wrote reports and feature stories on the social and political scene in postwar Europe;
  • covered the Greco-Turkish war

Cooperative Commonwealth, associate editor

1921

Published author

1923 – Present

  • published “The Sun Also Rises”, “Men Without Women”, “A Farewell to Arms”;
  • wrote a treatise on bullfighting “Death in the Afternoon”;
  • sailed the pristine waters of The Bahamas, traveled to Cuba;
  • hunting, fishing with Dos Passos.

East Africa, Adventurer

1933-1934

  • went on safari;
  • collected material for “Green Hills of Africa”;
  • survived dysentery

North American Newspaper Alliance, War correspondent

1937

  • covered the Spanish Civil War;
  • supported the beleaguered Spanish Republic;
  • wrote “The Fifth Column”, as Madrid was being bombarded by Francoist forces
  • started “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (published in 1940).

World War II, submarine hunter

1942-1943

  • patrolled the Caribbean Sea, armed with machine guns, bazookas, and grenades;
  • hunted German Submarines

Collier’s Magazine, journalist

1944-1945

  • accompanied the troops to the Normandy Landings;
  • was awarded a Bronze Star;
  • became the leader of a French Resistance militia in Rambouillet, aiding in the Liberation of Paris

Skills

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Good with French and German, fluent in Spanish
  • Leadership
  • Military First Aid
  • Good Semi-professional Boxer

‘Physical Meetings Were Not That Important’: In Conversation With Utiva CEO

What does it feel like to go fully remote during the global pandemic? We spoke with Utiva founder, Eyitayo Ogunmola, about their recruitment process, effective remote work tools and what they look for in candidates.

Utiva CEO and Founder
  1. What does your company specialize in?

Utiva is your one-stop-shop for everything Tech Education, from Data Science to Artificial Intelligence, Product Design, Product Management, Growth Hack and Programming. We help recent graduates and professionals transition into new roles or upskill in their current roles by learning premium and in-demand skills through our instructor-led live classes.

  1. What needs did you focus on when you founded the company?

We focused on bridging the job market skill gap for Universities in Africa. As someone that struggled for 2 years after University before getting my first job, I have a firsthand experience of what being unemployed in Nigeria feels like.

I founded Utiva to address this wicked problem and over the past 3 years, we have helped over 5000+ folks transition into new roles in the tech space.

  1. What is your contribution to the industry?

Today, we are building 15 technology schools where we are helping young people learn premium skills that fast-growing companies are hiring for. We have built 6 of these schools into the biggest in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, I would say that our biggest contribution to the industry is our approach towards changing the narrative about education being a non-profit social venture.

We strongly advocate that tech-ed leaders begin to see their companies as businesses rather than initiatives and also adopt profitable business models that could help them achieve scale and globalize the impact we are all working hard to achieve.

  1. How did you decide to go remote?

Like everyone else, the global pandemic forced us to explore remote work full-time.

Personally, I have been working with my team remotely from the UK and US for the past 2 years and we had been developing that capacity internally without being really aware.

When the need arose to take all our learning programs online, we only had to do some little restructuring internally to reinforce our capacity to handle it. Thanks to my extremely agile team, we trained almost 700 folks during the 3 months of lockdown alone.

  1. How many of your workers are working remotely?

Currently, my entire team works remotely! Interestingly, we just activated 100% remote work last week.

Before then we used to convene at the office on Mondays only to set the tone for the week, examine our rallying cries and discuss what each person is doing to move the Utiva train forward. Then we work for home for the rest of the week.

After careful assessment of our capacity, we decided to go fully remote this August.

  1. Is it difficult to set up a remote business?

To a great extent, yes. Discipline is something that we don’t find much in young people today, perhaps due to the effect of technology and social media.

To successfully run a remote business, you need to build a team of mini-entrepreneurs who believe in the vision of your business and are willing to all in their capacity to get sh*t done without excuses.

  1. How do you deal with workplace isolation? Do you have regular meetings with employees (virtual or physical)?

Yes we have regular meetings with my employees because it is very vital for our team building and collaboration. 

In fact, 50% of working hours are spent in several zoom meetings where we are constantly defining the direction of Utiva as a business.

We are however trying to cut down meeting times so that my team can focus more on execution.

  1. Which remote work tools helped you increase productivity? 

This may come as a surprise but we use a Google sheet for our morning standups. Every day, we populate the sheet with the work that we plan to do and check them as either done or in progress.

This way everyone gets to see what everyone is working on and support each other. The entire google suite has proven to be super helpful in fostering collaboration.

Like I mentioned earlier, we do a lot of zoom meetings too. So the Zoom App comes in handy too.

  1. How do you facilitate communication across time zones?

Today, I am the only one that works in a different timezone – 5-hours behind the Nigerian time. Hence, my days usually start as early as 4 AM and I am working till about 12 NOON my time. At this time, it is usually evening in Nigeria so I get to spend the rest of my afternoon doing my own stuff.

  1. What things do you wish you knew before working remotely? 

I wish I knew that a lot of the physical meetings we used to summon were actually not that important.

Looking back now at the time I used to spend navigating Lagos traffic on my way to meetings, I can only imagine how much productivity I left on the table.

  1. Do you hire international/foreign workers? Are they full-time employees or independent contractors?

We have a couple of distributed knowledge experts working with us across the UK and the middle-east

Most of them freelance with us, however, we like to call them Utiva faculty because they work with us committedly towards the common goal of bridging the skill gap

  1. What obstacles does your company face when hiring remote workers? How long does it take to fill a position?

Today, we are a medium-sized team of about 25 staff. We do not do a lot of hiring at the moment.

  1. Are there any positions that are hard to fill? Are you looking for new talents now?

Yes we are. We are looking to hire five more young and energetic people to drive our work in some remote regions.

  1. What does your recruitment process look like? 

Usually, we go smart-people hunting on LinkedIn. We look out for people that have shown leadership potentials in various capacities and we have conversations with them about joining the team.

90% of these folks are usually happy to become a part of what we’re doing.

  1. What do you notice first in a CV?

I look first for an embedded link to a LinkedIn profile. Before I read about the work that you have done, I want to get a sense/feel of the kind of person that you are and how you are telling your story.

I am a person of vibe and I want to be able to get into your mind through your digital content before I have a conversation with you.

  1. Tips for your prospective employees? 

There is a time to build and a time to reap the fruits of your hard work. Make sure you don’t spend the wrong time doing the wrong thing. Also, get yourself a mentor who really cares about you and make sure you do a lot of volunteering that will help you develop the capacity you need to stand out in your industry.

If Famous Writers Had CVs – Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde's Photo

What if history’s famous writers had CVs? Let’s imagine that with our new section #FamousWritersResume. Our first candidate is an Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. Would you hire him?

OSCAR FINGAL O’FLAHERTIE WILLS WILDE

Poet, playwright, novelist, editor

Personal profile

A successful playwright and poet, aesthete and trendsetter. A leader in the aesthetic movement based on the principle of art for art’s sake, and starry-eyed optimist.

Contact

34 Tite Street, Chelsea, London

sebastian.melmoth@gmail.com

456-756-345

linkedin.com/star-child/

Education

Portora Royal School, Graduated in 1871

  • the top classics student
  • was awarded the Royal School Scholarship

Trinity College, Dublin (1871–74)

  • received the college’s Foundation Scholarship
  • received the Berkeley Gold Medal as the best student in Greek

Magdalen College, Oxford (1874–78)

Double first class B.A. in Classical Moderations and Literae Humaniores

  • hosted cozy soirées enlivened by music, Venetian glassware, and gin-and-whiskey cocktails
  • won the Newdigate Prize for the best English verse composition

Work Experience

Freelance Poet and Novelist

1878 – Present

  • Writes poems, plays, fairy stories and essays

Lecturer, North America

1882

  • Toured the United States and Canada
  • Gave talks on art and fashion
  • Drank with Walt Whitman
  • Shocked and amused newspaper reporters

Contributor, The Pall Mall Gazette

1885-1890

  • Wrote book reviews

Editor, The Lady’s World magazine

1887-1889

  • Generated story ideas for writing staff
  • Solicited good contributions

Skills

  • An expert in the art of self-publicity
  • A first-class raconteur (Bernard Shaw can confirm)
  • Born with a great eye for decorating and design
  • An exceptional linguist. Fluent in English, German, French. Working knowledge of Italian and Greek.

You can view also – Companies hiring remote writers now

[Updated on April 4, 2021] These Companies are Hiring for Remote Writing Jobs Now

Remote Writing Jobs Hiring Now

Remote writing jobs are here to stay for two reasons: more businesses seek professional copywriters who will help their brand websites rank high on Google, and more companies become advocates of remote work culture.
Professional writers are in high demand since it’s a good copy that sells products and services and creates a memorable brand identity. Websites need content that is unique and engages their readers. Good content drives traffic and generates income. Working from home allows you to broaden your job search since many remote jobs today don’t impose location restrictions.

What is a remote writing job?

Remote writing jobs are a type of employment which involves writing copies and creating content for blog posts, emails, land pages, print pieces, and articles for companies and publications that allow working outside of traditional office environment. Every business runs their blog, which needs to be updated frequently hence your copywriting skills will be valuable for employers.

Are you looking for a remote job as a copywriter or content manager? Check out jobs on search engines like Jooble or take a look at the following list of the fully remote writing jobs from the companies hiring now. Check out these positions and apply today!

Remote Writing Jobs Hiring Now

Senior B2B Financial Content Writer

You’ll use style guides and brand guidelines to write materials that embody a company’s brand voice.

Content Writer / Manager – UK

You should be a first-class writer with the ability to do a deep dive into topics and distil complex topics into readable (and interesting) copy.

Social Media & Community Manager – UK

Social Media Manager will manage day-to-day social activity and put the strategy into action, hitting key deadlines and metrics.

Senior Creative Copywriter – US

You’ll manage brand copy and storytelling workflow to meet deadlines and cross-functional planning initiatives.

Social Media Manager – US

You will be tasked with growing our social media footprint, driving web traffic, qualified lead generation, and brand awareness. 

Content Strategist – English, Hindi & Telugu – India

They are seeking a candidate who has a passion for pop-culture content in the areas of music, gaming, film, and TV.  

Content Strategist – English, Hindi & Tamil – India

A fast-growing Content Curation and Marketing Agency is looking for the Programming Coordinator.

Freelance Writers’ Assistant: Blog & Technical Writing (Remote, Freelance)

A busy freelance writer is looking for a writers’ assistant to help write blog posts, press releases, professional bios, proofreading/editing, and other technical writing needs.

Learning Content Creator – Writer – US

You’ll represent the voice of BetterUp, ensuring they develop evidence-based and human-centered content that is delightful, inclusive, and impactful. 

Digital Media Coordinator (India)

You’ll be responsible for the full execution of all virtual and in-person interviews, including the When She Leads interview series.

Writer / Visual Story Teller – US

The company prefers folks in states where they have other employees, meaning WA, OR, and CO, but they are open to expanding that for exceptional candidates. 

Editor

Third Door Media, the parent company of MarTech Today, is currently looking for a seasoned storyteller to cover how marketing technology is changing what it means to be a marketer. 

Sports writer

New York or D.C.-based writers preferred, but we’re open to remote workers from everywhere.

Content & Social Media Manager – UK

You will be collaborating with Codurance teams (Marketing, Sales, UI/UX and Professional Services and Development Teams) on various projects including multi-channel lead generation campaigns.

Copywriter – US

A copywriter must have multichannel writing experience – social, web copy, PR, print and digital.

Content Manager – Canada

You’ll work with writing contractor to produce weekly blog posts and you’ll have the opportunity to do some writing yourself in press releases, case studies, webinar scripts, and more. 

Creative Manager – US

For this role, you have to be extremely creative in the areas of content writing, video, and design.

Writer – Part-time – US

Writers are responsible for researching and writing high-quality content, adapting tone and style to suit the needs of each client and/or task.

Social Media Coordinator – US

They are looking for a motivated, organized contractor with experience creating, scheduling, analyzing and adjusting strategies that drive social media engagement.

Content Creator – Philippines

Content creator must have professional bilingual proficiency in Tagalog and English.

Copywriter – Australia

Copywriter must have 1 – 3 years experience in a similar copywriting or editorial role (internships included).

Content Marketing Manager – US

They are looking for someone who will be hands on, as well as provide strategic insights and direction for their content development efforts. 

Social Media Manager – US

The ideal candidate will exhibit an enthusiastic passion for social media content creation and engagement that influences and educates their audiences.

Head of Social Media

You will help to drive forward their online presence by managing all of the social media accounts. 

Tech Writers

TechSpot is looking to hire staff writers that are driven and enthusiastic about technology in general.

Social Media Marketing Assistant

An Australian based Social Media company that is seeking to take on a part-time Marketing Assistant to assist in their growing business.

Social Media and Content Executive

You’ll be tasked with landing our new brand position across our creative, graphic and motion output.

Junior TikTok Manager for an entrepreneur & Stanford University graduate

Do you regularly spend time on TikTok and already consider yourself an expert in the trends of this social network? They have a job for you! 

Copywriter

A copywriter must quickly grasp a client’s brand, mission, and vision to create content that speaks to specific audiences.

Freelance Writers – Japanese, Spanish, German, French

Are you interested in languages, education and technology and want to work in one of the world’s best EdTech startups? Then join them and be part of an ambitious and talented team.

Events Copywriter – US

The ideal candidate has an exhaustive attention to detail, thrives in creativity, has top-notch attention to detail and loves grammar. 

Content Marketing Manager

You’ll develop a rich pipeline of compelling marketing content to engage potential and existing customers.

Content Marketing Manager at Medely

Your objective will be to increase overall brand awareness and engagement, raise Medely’s overall thought leadership efforts.

Content Marketing Manager at Sourcegraph

As one of the first content marketing hires, you will help define the direction of their content marketing strategy and content development processes.

More writers nowadays choose remote work, since there are a lot of jobs that allow working from anywhere in the world. We post these jobs here.