Book review: Happy mondays

Work is good. Work gives our lives meaning, and if we choose to work a lot, well, we’re probably happier for it.

Work is important. You would never accept a romantic relationship that was “sort of OK” or stay with a spouse who is “you know, nothing special, but I’m used to him/her”. So why should you accept anything less than true fullfilment on the job?

Work is changing. From long-term commitment and slowly and predictably climbing the career-ladder to a gold watch after 25 years of faithful service to rapid job changes, lateral career moves, free agents and entreprenurism.

And this is all good.

This is basically the point of Richard Reeves’ book Happy Mondays: Putting the Pleasure Back into Work. You’d be hard pressed to find an author more determinedly and forcefully optimistic about the changing work environment, and I think his book is an important and valid contribution to our efforts to construct the future of work.

My long-distance friend Mike Wagner put me onto this book, and I was very glad to read it – especially as a counter-weight to The Corrosion of Character by Richard Sennett, which looks at the exact same phenomena and basically concludes that it’s all bad – as you may have guessed from the title.

Far from cancelling each other out, these two books are excellent, though unlikely, companions – though I have a feeling that neither author will enjoy that fact. Reeves, whose book came out after Sennet’s, certainly takes some serious swipes at Sennett and other pessimists who argue, that the future od work may be anything but rosy.

My natural tendency is to agree with Reeves. I think work is changing for the better. I think that increased mobility and more freedom are good things, and I really enjoyed reading Happy Mondays for its relentless optimism and its total conviction that work can and should be fun. It’s just that we have a lot of learning to do, and that some of us take to the new work style more easily.

Reeves has written is a manifesto for the future of work and the work of the future. A future where work is fun, challenging, educational, absorbing – and nobody settles for less. Let’s go there!

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