Working 9 to 5: A Reading List About the Way We Work

The lines between my life and these lists blur often, and this week is no exception; I begin a new job tomorrow.

1. “Workin’ 9 to 5 (What a Way to Make a Living).” (Megan Reynolds, The Billfold, April 2014)

“I can’t shake the feeling that the 9-to-5 grind carries the one hallmark of adulthood—obligation. The work of the modern office employee is finely tuned drudgery, a daily exercise in doing stuff that you don’t necessarily want to do, but know you have to.”

2. “‘Office at Night’: A Novella.” (Kate Bernheimer & Laird Hunt, Walker Art Center, 2014)

Inspired by the Edward Hopper painting of the same name, here is a 26-part collaborative serial about the “imagined lives of the characters in the painting, stenographer Marge Quinn and her boss, the sometimes painter Abraham Chelikowsky.”

3. “The Open-Office Trap.” (Maria Konnikova, The New Yorker, January 2014)

I may work in a basement, but many companies have gone open-office. Turns out its collaborative appearance may not be as good for productivity or employee well-being as it seems.

4. “The Office Phone Call Was Music to the Ears.” (Megan Hustad, The New York Times, March 2008)

Hustad is the author of How to Be Useful: A Beginner’s Guide to Not Hating Work; a worn library copy sits on my shelf, waiting to be read. Here is her meditation on the disappearance of the office telephone and its implications for courage, eavesdropping and empathy.

 

Photo: Michiel2005