The survey: What is a Job, Really?
I created my survey with the intention of shedding a little light on some of the less discussed elements of employment. Namely, I wanted to see whether time flexibility, vacations, stress and workload were more important determining factors in employment that simple dollars and cents.
Only three of the 26 people that took my survey believed that a stable paycheck was the most important aspect of the work that they do. Whereas, nearly half of those polled believed that a flexible schedule and good vacation time were the biggest benefits to their jobs. Most people took their job because it had an exciting work environment or substantial future opportunities.
Although nearly every person surveyed is involved in some kind of creative class employment, I believe that these results are very informative. A more expanded survey would focus on the working class, and I suspect that the results would be surprisingly similar. Seasonal labor, “gigging”, telecommuting: these are all examples of job organization strategies that have huge untapped potential in a modern, hyper-connected economy. Full-time employment presents major financial challenges for Americans that are dependent on failing transportation networks, expensive child care, and dehumanizing conditions. Perhaps tweaking the model for greater autonomy could mean less burden on employers and alleviate rat-race burdens on employees. A win-win.
The survey had several flaws. Firstly, I asked people about their own jobs, whereas I think it might have been beneficial to ask more speculative questions like “what is the most important aspect of a job” and focus directly on how they feel about the various social factors in finding employment. I especially enjoyed the question “why do you do what you do?” as it elicited some very provocative, albeit qualitative, information. One particularly interesting and poetic person had some thoughtful insight into the fruits of his labor:
“Gigs are the jobs of the future. People come to their senses and want neither to serve or be served. In lieu of a career: 100’s of meaningless gigs by which I can acquire 100’s of corresponding perspectives of the human world. Understand the bitterness of clerks, the chipperness of toothbrush operators, the true lives and opinions of the butcher, baker and candlestick maker. No station is without its secrets.”