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The Conundrum of Choice

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Assume that every morning your employer called you and asked if you wanted to come to work that day. There is no requirement and, if you wanted, you could work zero days in a year. You are only paid for the hours that you work and are open to 365 days of 8-hour shifts. In a sense you are always “on call.”

Would you decide to go to work each day? Would you commonly work a forty-hour work week or choose instead a part-time role?

We often think of choice as being between two positives. Do you want coffee or tea? Brownies or cake? Things change when choices come with variable forms of benefit. In our employment idea above there are two kinds of value: the financial form of money and the abstract concept of time. Convenience is the major player in making our decision and would likely be the single determining factor used to decide if we went to work.

Can I afford to not work today? What do I feel like today? These basic questions deal with the convenience of going to work that day and would be the evaluative means to decide our day.

For many this debate is one of equal sides. The opportunity to decide to work leads to a complicated consideration. For others the debate is far from equal, some are swayed easily by money or the lack of earning money. Financial means rule the day but additional details also play a part. The pleasures of one’s work or the corporate culture one enters into are crucial factors one must consider.

The Current Format

In the current model there is a “work week”, a division of time wherein the hours of our day and week are pre-defined as working hours. We work shifts and psychologically divide our time accordingly. We are “at work” or “getting ready for work,” “leaving work” or “stuck at work.” We have a language of labor and function differently in these roles. We prepare and pack meals for these times away, we dress in an established format of “business formal” or “business casual.” On Fridays we may be blend our personal and professional worlds with “casual Friday” where the clothing of our non-work world are used in the professional setting.

In this format there are limited options for the work week. An employee can “call off” but in doing so utilizes a collection of hours set aside for these emergencies. Likewise “sick time” is a collection of time set aside for times when we are not healthy enough to perform our jobs. These classifications of hours insure an employer receives a full work week even if we are not present. In such a system an employer who never walks into the office all week can still “put in” forty hours by taking forty hours of personal time.

The professional world allows us this dual existence. Employment features a sub set of language, dress and behavior. Time has been divided and redefined on professional terms. If given a choice to engage in this world what would one do? Would one decide to stay away?

  1. ulag
    January 27, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Whats the connection between Al Qaeda and Adam Smith? Read it here.


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