Culture Challenge of the Week: 24/7 Work Frenzy
Amazon made headlines recently for its futuristic plans to use drones to deliver packages. Whatever you may think of a sky full of flying delivery machines, Amazon’s innovation is a sign of a bigger trend: the 24/7 business world. Amazon seems bent on changing the business cycle—or at least the delivery cycle—to an ‘always-on’ model. In fact, it has already struck a deal with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver packages on Sundays in some metropolitan locations.
Is this frenzied business activity just a holiday innovation? A way to provide super-service amidst the volume of Christmas shopping? I don’t think so.
The non-stop business day is another sign of our society’s devaluing of the deeper things in life—family and faith. And on the practical side, it has consequences for both productivity and personal happiness.
A recent Wall Street Journal article described the phenomenon of the ‘Sunday Blues’—workers’ anxiety about impending Monday-morning pressure. And the financial industry was hit by several high-profile stress-related deaths in recent months. These sad cases point to the basic, undeniable need for mental and physical rest.
As businesses feed the 24/7 consumer mentality, they put their employees in difficult positions. Businesses need employees, and every person stuck in a shop or delivering a package is a person who’s not at home with the rest of the family. A friend of mine lamented recently that her husband, a branch bank manager, now has to work Sundays—the one day that everyone else in the family was home. Similarly, other families I know have ‘lost’ their family time because their teenagers spend all week in school and then work at the mall on weekends. Extended business hours produces unintended consequences: families find it nearly impossible to carve out any predictable time to spend time together, and individuals have little leisure time to develop their own creativity.
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