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Pando-hell has given us a taste of freedom over where we work. How about a push to decide when we work next?

Snooze mandatory redistribution party

Mandatory Redistribution Party podcast hosts Sean Morley and Jack Evans demonstrating what sleeping looks like.

I love to snooze. I love being ripped out of reality into either nothing, or a dream world of uncertain physics and nightmarish re-imaginings of a lifetime of trauma.

Between my duvet and my pillow there are no secrets, only whispered affection and bellowing snores that reverberate through the thin walls of my rented terraced flat, affording my neighbours some vicarious pleasure at knowing I'm finally resting my incredibly heavy bones.

Sleep is absolutely vital to being remotely healthy. Why then do I need to stop sleeping at 7.30am so I can spend an hour on the bus to the email factory?

During the pandemic, a lot of us got a sweet taste of working from home – throwing a formal top over your pyjamas for Zoom calls and doing emails from a deck chair in the "garden" (a bit of concrete where you keep the bins).

The work from home experiment of pando-hell exposed the arbitrariness of the work from the office experiment we'd been piloting for several generations prior – people crushing themselves into limited public transport options, or cramming their cars into the limited routes afforded to a society trying to build a 21st century economy out of a nation built on medieval market towns.

Despite various studies demonstrating that productivity either rises or stays the same while working from home (some examples: 1, 2, 3, 4), why are people coerced into emailing each other from the same building rather from the comfort of their own baked bean-stained hovels?

And if the call to allow us to work where we like gains any traction, why not go further? Why not demand to work when we like?

If we accept the psychopathic profit and productivity worldview – where the only way of measuring a spanner-maker’s value in society is their spanners per hour stat – then surely giving the wee toolsmith a lovely rest is going to help smash that stat into the stratosphere. Sleep deprivation is supremely bad for our brains’ ability to process information, perform tasks and even to regulate our emotions.

It's estimated that as many as 40% of shift workers suffer from Shift Work Sleep Disorder, which is when your sleep and energy are massively busted up by being forced into irregular sleep patterns that don't fit with your circadian rhythm. In the UK, night shift workers account for one in nine employees.

Around half of adults say poor sleep negative impacts their mental health. More than a quarter of unemployed people in the UK have reported suicidal feelings due to a lack of sleep. Sleep disturbance has ballooned into a major public health concern during the pandemic.

It’s a fundamental part of healthy living that has been eroded by a desire to regiment and extract labour from workers, which feels more and more cruel and arbitrary when many of our jobs amount to sending emails that probably won’t even be read that day.

The ideology of the 9-to-5 working day cuts deep. Those who have circadian rhythms different from the norm are considered to have sleep disorders. Not because they're incapable of living a healthy life free from sleep deprivation, but because society will not allow them to. If you want to keep the lights on, you must work the hours you're given.

The reason we can't have these nice things is managerialism, the philosophy that people need to be watched and guided properly otherwise they'll do a two-hour poo / watch Age Of Ultron on their phone sat in a toilet cubicle.

If you believe workers are only adequately motivated by authority (fear) you’ll realise it’s tricky to extend that authority to me sat in filthy jogging bottoms at 3am filling out a spreadsheet, and therefore you'll oppose any attempts to allow employees to know rest or peace. This is an ideological position, not a data-driven one.

I'm a huge advocate of shirking. I'm pro-shirk. But the evidence suggests that people would rather deliver on their allocated workload than stare at a blinking cursor on the company clock. On some basic level it feels better to do something with your limited uptime than offer up your life to vast, yawning inertia.

People just love to do. People love to do so much that they become ill.

So please, just let us sleep.

Learn more

Check out the latest episode of the Mandatory Redistribution Party podcast, 'Snooze', for more in-depth sleep discourse from sleepy comedy friends Sean Morley and Jack Evans.

Previously from Mandatory Redistribution Party

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