Home General News The office needs you – or at least your colleagues at work

The office needs you – or at least your colleagues at work

by ervte

I’m one of those annoying people who talk to people in the coffee shop, on the street, in the elevator, and in line at the airport to get through security. And so, when I listened to my colleague, Dr. Justine Toh, give one of the plenary presentations at the CMA (Christian Ministries Advancement) conference in Melbourne last week, I was saddened to hear how many people are out of touch with others, casually or otherwise! I am amazed at what people will tell me. It is a place of wonder and privilege.

Justine, the Senior Research Fellow at CPX (Centre for Public Christianity), spoke about the future of work, a highly relevant topic as employers grapple with the WFH (work from home)/office gap. So how healthy is it for people to increasingly stare at a screen at the expense of personal contact with fellow humans?The office needs you - or at least your colleagues at work

Head, hand, and heart workers

Justine talked about the three types of workers: head, heart, and hand. Both she and I are master workers. We spend most of our time in front of a computer. The ‘head’ implies brain work and means that such workers can have choices. And what about those who have no choice? They/we survived the lockdowns because they could work in front of their laptop in their pajamas if they wanted to. (Although survival is a loose term for many people, the pressure of WFH came into lockdown with other family members also WFH, on top of homeschooling, caring for small children/older parents, etc. – you know what I mean because you were there too .)

This is a very different scenario from the heart and artisans. The artisans are customer oriented, or they could be garbage collectors or other workers we rely on.

“Handicraft requires more of your physical presence at work,” Justine told the conference.

“You could drive a bus, a truck, or a forklift. You could stack supermarket shelves or clean offices. Or maybe you are a plumber, tradie, or mechanic. You may be a craftsman if you wear a uniform and get dirty at work.”

Some roles became essential workers during the lockdown, but others were banned from work because they couldn’t enter a customer’s home to fix their shower or install a television or other service.

Heart workers are people in care, paid or voluntary. You could take care of your elderly mother. You may be an aged care worker, a church minister, a childminder, a nurse, a doctor, and the list goes on.

Justine came across these head, hand, and heart descriptions created by British journalist David Goodhart while researching for her book Achievement Addiction. Goodhart suggested that master workers often demand the highest wages and can understandably be resented by the heart and manual workers.

But why is this relevant to the future of work, given that we will always need all three categories of workers?

A crisis of connection

Well, Justine is paid to research and think, and she’s thought about issues of loneliness, productivity, and what she describes as a crisis of belonging.

In her research phase, Justine came across the writings of war correspondent Sebastian Junger, who had made a documentary in Restrepo, in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan’s Kunar province, where 20 American soldiers manned the outpost shelled by the Taliban.

Fortunately, most of those reading this aren’t in such a terrifying situation, but his book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, attracted Justine to Junger’s documentary.

“The burning question for Junger: What about modern society that is so repulsive – even to people who come from there?

None of these soldiers knew each other before they were dispatched, yet Junger found they did not want to return home. “They missed being at Restrepo together,” Justine said via Zoom as she addressed the delegates.

“The burning question for Junger: What about modern society that is so repulsive – even to people who come from there?

“Junger’s story of the soldiers in Restrepo is a vivid example of the tribe’s appeal: a small group of people you feel close to,” explains Justine.

“The tribe tells you who you are and what role to play. And so deeply do you find your identity in the tribe that you even sacrifice yourself for it when it comes down to it.

“We need to belong to something bigger than ourselves – our survival depends on it. But it’s also true, I think, that we’re experiencing a crisis of belonging today.

“Given this era of progressive crises in which we seem to live – fire, floods, pestilence, war – ‘crisis’ does not seem the right word to describe our difficulties in belonging.

“Crisis seems immediate, visible, and attention-grabbing, while non-belonging is more terrifying – more likely to be a vibe, a mood, a feeling that is always there and affects us, even as we see its impact on us. CU.S. cannot always identifies. The

“But belonging is key to the strange paradox Junger explores in his book: There is a surprising — and tragic — human toll on modern life.”

Here’s the pinch. How can modern life be tragic? We seem to have everything within reach. We have unlimited entertainment at the touch of a remote. We can order food day and night through our mobile devices. Why do we need to belong?

We are in a loneliness epidemic.

CPX’s senior research fellow has unearthed some startling statistics. It seems we are in a loneliness epidemic. Researchers have found that:

Twenty-four percent of people say they feel they have no one to talk to, 35 percent say they ‘rarely, if ever, feel like part of a group of friends, and 48 percent are ashamed of admitting feelings of loneliness.

“So we have to belong somewhere.”

“The experience of the soldiers in Restrepo and our crisis of loneliness tells us that despite the enviable freedoms of modern life, people still crave connection. And they are willing to sacrifice their well-being to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Justine said.

“So we have to belong somewhere.”

And in case you didn’t know, Zoom calls don’t count. We need encounters with real people of flesh and blood.

Even Justine, the ultimate housemate, recognized that there are tremendous powers in being with others.

“Life and death are not at stake in the workplace –the church. But…[Junger’s documentary] captures the X factor of teamwork that keeps those soldiers together,” she told the conference.

The Power of the Body of Christ

Justine then took us to the Body of Christ, which offers a powerful vision of what belonging can look like – one that overcomes the hierarchies that often plague our communities and the unequal status of head, heart, and handiwork in our world.

“In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul speaks of the ‘body of Christ. In the church,

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we have all been baptized by one Spirit to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, enslaved person or free—and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Yet the body is not of one part, but of many.”

“There’s something here for any organization that wants to unite a group of different people around a common goal.”

“This is a beautiful view of the church — and it’s worth saying that workplaces are not churches,” Justine said.

“But there’s something here for any organization that wants to unite a group of different people around a common goal.”

“Paul writes, ‘We are all baptized by one Spirit to form one body.’ He emphasizes the unity we enjoy through Christ. But this does not mean we are all the same, do the same job, or work from the same office.

“In our terms, you can be at the beginning of your career or the end of it. Yet you belong.”

“Paul envisions the ideal community as united – centered in Christ – yet diverse: composed of people of different interests, skills, abilities, and backgrounds. That mix of unity and diversity calls us to work together – just as the human body functions as one being, even if it consists of several members.

“In our terms, you can be at the beginning of your career or the end of it. Yet you belong.”

Justine is now in the home game. Let me turn it over to Justine for a strong finish.

Doctor Justine Toh:

“I wonder what would be possible if we brought a ‘body of Christ’s spirit to work every day, regardless of whether we are physically in the same office.

“If you have feelings about returning to the office or returning to in-person meetings at church, I hear you. But consider what that secular office prophet Michael Schur has to say. Even if remote working has its perks,

“… a world where we never meet other people, no matter how boring or boring they may be, is not the world humans were designed for. We are meant to be close to each other, gently bumping into each other, exchanging small moments of conversation and mutual interest. We’re supposed to share experiences, bond over common annoyances, and celebrate each other’s birthdays with silly hats and cupcakes. The shared office is one of the last places to practice being around other people.”

“At its best, the church is the place that connects different people.”

“Of co,urse he’s talking about working in an office. But he does theology without realizing it—for he also describes the church—and perhaps the Christian organization that puts a “body of Christ” mind to work.

“At its best, the church is the place that connects different people and helps us to live and work well together. Despite our differences, we can be together ‘in Christ.”

Last, last words!

Okay, not quite definitive, Justine. For those extroverts, keep talking to people in the elevator, on the street, at the coffee shop, or in the office; the world needs you, as Justine explained. Every life is important; we should all be seen and valued as God values ​​us.

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