If we’re going to Decrapify Work, it’s important to locate the crap. When I ask people, I get lots of different replies because everyone has a different personal experience. However, I have identified some common sources.
1. Bureaucracy The everyday sludge that we have to wade through simply to exist in the workplace, let alone get anything done.
2. Behaviour The way people are with each other and how bad behaviour is not only tolerated but often rewarded. Nobody enjoys being where people are being shitty to each other all day long. Bad behaviour is a form of violence, that’s why it feels so heavy.
3. Honesty How often do you find yourself saying “Just spare me all the spin and double-talk and tell me what’s happening!”. We’re adults, right? We can take the reality, it’s the bullshit that drives us mad.
4. Transparency The idea that ‘information is power’ still holds sway in many environments but it’s actually untrue in our information-rich, networked work environments. It makes life harder for people, and it’s also used for shitty little power plays, which brings us to …
5. Abuse of power We want to be treated fairly, with respect and dignity. We don’t want to be dictated to or, worse, bullied by people who have power over us. Arbitrary decisions, last-minute demands, ego-driven objectives, favouritism – these are things that irritate the hell out of us.
6. Conformity It’s a devaluation of the self, you have to suppress some of your personality in order to ‘fit in’. However, the yardstick you are judged against is never clearly defined, enabling more bad behaviour and power plays.
7. Autonomy Why can’t we make our own choices about how we do our work, and where and when we do it? Why are some of us still treated like school children, who can only be trusted to work if we are sat at our desks and watched over – even after we managed to Work from Home during COVID? Even where Hybrid working is being adopted, why is trust being clawed back with mandated office days, surveillance software and snide remarks about ‘woke from home’?
This is not a comprehensive list – if you think I’ve missed any, please let me know what you’d add.
Of course, all of these are related. In the worst, most toxic, crappiest workplaces, they are all a problem. COVID has shaken some of these, mostly through ushering in Work From Anywhere. Now’s the time to push back on the others.
The time is ripe to start to Decrapify Work.