The thinner the air

In the days when travellers laid their trail only by postcard, I once asked a friend as to the best part of her irregular mungoparekesque forays into Asia and the subcontinent. “Coming home” she said.

I was reminded of this by Andrew Mawson’s reply to my last blog post, in which he opined that the displaced and confused distribution and exercise of power and authority in modern organisations – and the resultant imbalanced structures created – has rendered the contribution of workspace to allowing people to be at their best, irrelevant.

This blog has often taken an existential position in relation to work, considering that it is up to us alone to attribute meaning to our endeavours, and not a responsibility of our employer or organisation. The relationship we have with work is necessarily a subset of our relationship with our life in its entirety.

There are several trends contributing to the accentuation of this existential position, each one providing a necessary challenge to the existing order yet not without alternate consequence.

Like the agoraphobia of social connectivity, whereby we can meet, connect, maintain and develop relationships across continents and timezones without a need to rely on locality. Or to be anywhere at all, really.

Maybe the faustian Techno-Social Contract in which we are free to work from anywhere (with wifi, of course) and at any time, in exchange for unparalleled levels of intrusion and loss of privacy. With ever more features, ever less control.

Perhaps the dismantling of the certainties associated with hierarchy through the passive – either through the inevitable, as in the ever-increasing complexity of our relations in the postmodern world – and the wilful, in the championing and implementation of ideas such as holacracy.

Such forces at play remind us of travels in the world’s backwaters, stifled amid the mangroves, where the air is thinner. The tangled swamps could just as easily be the organisational structures in which we are lost today, our shortness of breath our struggle to understand.

Contrary to what many now claim, the more that we are pushed away, place – and the comfort, connectivity, contact, relevance and warmth it brings – may have never been so important.

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