Going Back To Work, Differently


As unemployment decreases ever so slightly, those people lucky enough to return to work after a period of professional stagnation are raising new questions.  How can it be different this time?  As bad as the recession was, and it really, really was very bad, it also enabled workers, especially professionals, to reflect upon how they were working and the impact of their work on their families, community and even the environment.  As a 29 year-old lawyer said to me, “I’m so glad to have a job again.  Yet the recession has been good for me in a way. It was humbling.  I’d like not to go back to what it was like before. I’d like it to be different somehow.”   For those lucky enough to return to work, find tips for how to make it different after the jump.

Tips For Going Back To Work Differently:

1) No matter what you do, your work is part of a societal code of ethics.  Know the standards for your line of work and adhere to them.  That makes you a leader.

2) In these times, every job affects large numbers of people.  Practice with those people in mind – they are your friends, neighbors, family and community.

3) Get in the habit of thinking about our planet, and the particular ecosystem that you inhabit.  Don’t worry so much about the science of global warming. The so-called experts can duke it out among themselves. Your job is to recognize that scaling down and producing less waste is good for the environment no matter what, and most likely good for you as well.

4) Make sure you find time in your schedule to be a person. If you are a hard worker and honest about your time management, most bosses know that when employees take time for health and family it only makes the workplace better. Work from home when it makes sense.  One of the things people liked best about the recession was spending time with loved ones, or having the hours available to find loved ones. Some people appreciated the chance to take walks, and think.  Being a healthy person requires some self-reflection.  It’s also better for the workplace. And it also helps the environment.

5) Your workplace is also a community.  And it is a community embedded in other communities.  Competition and anxiety have a place in fueling creativity and production.  When we forget, however, that we are all messengers of a shared life force and don’t acknowledge that outside the hierarchical structures of institutional organization we are all equal partners in the destiny called life, we degrade what is best about working together with other people.  Our work is a privilege, our colleagues a treasure (even the difficult ones, in their way), and the earth’s resources are a gift. All are deserving of our respect.

As the economy begins its slow ascent to recovery, keeping if different, this time, might prevent the crash of 2008 – that hurt and ruined the lives of so many – from happening again.

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