Dehumanising the workplace

As someone who worked for a big American corporation for 16 years, I know we submit ourselves to all sorts of things once we are cognitively captured by the organisational culture.

We agree to put a leash around our neck with a label on, usually with a number. We consent that others will challenge us if we don’t display it. We may not vary where we wear it or how it looks.

We agree to be tracked, monitored, and measured. We agree to be judged by numbers.

We consent to sit in unhealthy buildings in unnatural light. We agree to be told exactly where to sit. We consent to regulations over how our workspace can look. We consent as the workplaces gradually become more sterile and less personalised: nothing on the walls, no personal items, clear desk policy, hot desking.

We accept that there are physical guards securing the place where we work. Then we accept when they remove our colleagues by force or threat of force, with a black plastic bag full of possessions, and we consent that the same threat is applied to us.

We allow our employer to define the time and place in which we work, and then we consent as they gradually extend the time and place: “we are all going to have to work extra hours to achieve this”, “we need you to come in on Saturday for training”, “we are having an all-hands offsite meeting in another city over the weekend”.

We agree to – in fact we get gaslighted, propagandists, suckered into supporting – a brutal culture where that employers own our health and income, where we need the job in order to feed and protect our family. Looking especially at you, USA.

Gradually we consent to the erosion not just of our rights, but of our identity, our freedom, and our safety.

And our beliefs and values. Through peer pressure, groupthink, and propaganda (sometimes outright lies) we get convinced it is ok to spy on customers, to mislead and trick them, to harm them.

This is what too much organisational employment looks like in the 2020s, whether government or private.