If you’re anything like me, you’ll have looked at the traditional 9-5 Monday to Friday work week more than once and thought “this is a bit Victorian, is it not?”
Well, you’re not far wrong. Much like our school system, the archetype of our working life was shaped during the nineteenth century, when the industrial revolution precipitated a move away from traditional ‘cottage industry’ in favour of the centralised factory system.
Previously rural workers would produce goods at home to sell to local communities, but advances in technology and the growth in urban population led to the building of large factories where hundreds of workers would labour together under one roof, producing goods with the aid of machines. Working conditions were dangerous, the hours were long, and workers had few rights and little protection from unscrupulous employers.
Thankfully employment law has come a long way since then, but the basic blueprint of work taking place in a designated building, during set hours, with employees having little or no control over what, how and when they do things is still very much the same.
For a large part of the working public the factories have been replaced by offices, the mill owner in a top hat by a business manager in a suit, and the majority are still deeply dissatisfied with their jobs.