One of many defining traits of the controversy about work and workplaces through the pandemic has been the reinvigoration of a few concepts about human beings we thought had been put to mattress.
The primary is the concept of individuals as clean slates, with few or no in-built traits or traits, solely realized concepts and behavior. Proponents of this concept counsel individuals will be moulded to be no matter we would like them to be.
The second is the concept of Homo Economicus, a superbly rational and self-interested species, every member of which pursues his or her personal targets optimally. That is the notion that underpins the ideas of scientific administration.
We could have thought each had been consigned to the dustbin of historical past however the admission of each appears to form present considering on how we work.
One man who would argue that this isn’t how individuals perform in any respect is Nigel Oseland who has crystallised his ideas on the matter in his ebook Past The Office Zoo. The ebook (intentionally) invokes the spirit of the zoologist and ethnologist Desmond Morris, whose books and TV programmes take into account people as they might every other animal.
Nigel Oseland’s ebook is a well timed retort to the individuals who would overlook the entire messy, contradictory and fantastic enterprise of what it means to be human by suggesting we will merely minimize ourselves off from one another to work our manner down a to-do record every single day in pursuit of our slender financial targets, all watched over by machines of loving grace.
What books like this do is reintroduce the disciplines of anthropology and sociology to the controversy. We stay extremely developed and social apes, not mere items of manufacturing, and the best way the ebook explores the concept of workplaces as zoos that greatest serve the animals that reside inside provides a brand new dimension to a dialogue that may ignore our natures.
Though ostensibly a tutorial, Nigel Oseland has that uncommon high quality of mixing tutorial rigour with a capability to speak effectively on advanced topics. And what could possibly be extra advanced and well timed – and extra in want of real perception – than the altering nature of labor? Nigel’s research over a few years make him the perfect individual to discover the methods during which individuals perform and work together as animals and the consequences on them of the quickly evolving world of labor.
One draw back is that the ebook is printed by tutorial writer Routledge which implies it’s inevitably on the expensive facet, so one thing for the Kindle quite than the bookshelf. However that shouldn’t deter anyone who wish to take into account advanced office points in an knowledgeable and nuanced manner and rolls their eyes when confronted with yet one more LinkedIn ballot about whether or not the workplace is healthier than the house as a administrative center W&P
Reviewed by Mark Eltringham, December 2021 for Work&Place
Printed by Routledge ISBN 9780367655334 – 232 Pages 57 B/W Illustrations – September 2021.