Looking back over some books I’ve read, or reread, recently then Zola’s Germinal , The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton and Jonathan Rose’s The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes have all come to mind.
I think these particular titles have all struck a chord with my mid-winter experience of dimly-lit January train trips through north-west London, peering out of the rain streaked window.
The journey into work from south Watford takes in all types of offices tall and spangly, sprawling and unattractive, builders yards, car wreckers yards, aggregates stores, the Digestive biscuit plant, a Kodak factory, any number of warehouses and distribution hubs, supermarkets, Wembley Stadium, bus depots, a gargantuan post office sorting centre, the Park Royal industrial estate, schools, shopping malls and twelve dozen other edifices offering employment.
And it might just be one of those start of the year things, but I’m left thinking that wherever all our commutes terminate that having made it past the uncompromising morning alarm, the packed trains and traffic jams, and done our best to not engage with other yawning tetchy workers with none of us having yet seen that morning’s sun then surely, are we not owed some explanation over what it is we’ll all be doing for the next 8 hours?
I think about Zola’s Étienne, the supermarket logistics coordinator in one of de Botton’s essays, the memoir of a forgotten Welsh miner unearthed by Rose. And I realise it’s the fact that whilst there need be no earth-shattering meaning within our jobs, it sure is better for the soul when we know that what we’re doing does fulfil a needed role for the company and that our company does play a part in the successful functioning of our society.
With that connection made then as a communicator I can think more optimistically about looking for those opportunities to share the stories of my colleagues, discover what others are up to, make information available about what the organisation’s doing next week or the month after and help enable everyone to find the opportunity to make a personal connection to the corporate.
And of course that’s neither an easy nor a finite task. It’s a continuing and important role for the internal communicator to look for those stories, to understand and expand on experiences and to ensure everyone’s contribution can be viewed and valued as part of the whole.
Question: does anyone else have books that they can point to for inspiration, be they motivational tomes that help muster you from under the duvet each morning or those instructional self-help business-bibles that better explain how to do our jobs? (And I do confess I own any number of well-thumbed Business for Dummies guides!)