This is a post in my organizing “between and beyond” series. Other posts are here.
The following are patterns related to work in Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language:
- Scattered Work: The artificial separation of houses and work creates intolerable rifts in people’s inner lives. This separation reinforces the idea that work is a toil.
Therefore, prohibit large concentrations or work without family life around them, and prohibit large concentrations of family life, without workplaces around them.1
- Work Community: If you spend eight hours of your day at work, and eight hours at home, there is no reason why your workplace should be any less of a community than your home. People believe they are less alive when they are working than when they are at home. Why shall we not create a world in which our work is as much part of life, as much alive, as anything we do at home with our family and friends?
Therefore, build or encourage the formation of work communities. The total work community should have no more than 10 or 20 workplaces in it.2
- Self-Governing Workshops and Offices: No one enjoys his work if he is a cog in a machine. A person enjoys the work when he or she understands the whole and is responsible for the quality of the whole. Work is a form of living, with its own intrinsic rewards. Any way of organizing which treats work instrumentally, as a means only to other ends, is inhuman. People cannot find satisfaction in work unless it is performed at a human scale and in a setting where they have a say. We believe that small self-governing groups are not only more efficient, but also the only possible source of job satisfaction.
Therefore, encourage the formation of self-governing workshops and offices fo 5 to 20 workers. Make each group autonomous. Where the work is complicated and requires larger organizations, several of these groups can federate and cooperate.3
Here is an analysis of Christopher Alexander’s pattern language in architecture.
1 Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, with Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, and Shlomo Angel, A Pattern Language (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 51–57.
2 Ibid., p. 222–226.
3 Ibid., p. 398–403.
Organizing in between and beyond posts