The working week as a cultural phenomenon

As someone who runs their own small business, I have to figure out how to work with fluctuating levels of client work. There are times when there is more to do and I have to put in the extra hours, and others when there is down time.

I’m a stronger believer in avoiding work for work’s sake. There is the work that needs to be done: work in the home; paid work; work in the community. But then it is important to rest, to find balance, to find joy outside work.

But if your rest time corresponds with when everyone else is working, I find it feels very difficult not to feel like you should be doing something.

What constitutes the working week is cultural. It exists in routines and rituals: rush hours and lunch breaks; when it is and isn’t ok to email someone. It exists in stories: I had to work late (in other words, later than I should have been); what did you do at the weekend (inference: you weren’t working). It exists in how we organise ourselves: which days we plan to work. It exists in control systems: what hours we work; different pay rates for unsociable hours.

Of course, work is done by different people at all times of day, but the cultural factors create such a distinct contours to the week that we are very aware of when our work pattern goes with or against the landscape.

And so it is not surprising that it feels hard not to work on a ‘working’ day.

Tomorrow’s post – how could the seasons affect the work day?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.