The signs have been there for a long time, but the lockdowns have given them a major boost. Now, “quiet quitting” is a major problem for employers, especially since many people still work from home, blurring the boundary between work time and free time. Although there is no clear definition of the term “quiet quitting,” it basically means that people strive to do less, work fewer hours, and forget about work once they are out of the office. Succinctly, it means working as little as possible without getting fired.
Some pundits blame this phenomenon on the employees, arguing that people are getting lazy. Others pin it on the bosses and argue that executives need to learn how to work with millennials if they want to get more out of them.
I think it is simply that people want to find a balance. A healthy balance between work and leisure is key to leading a good life. It is not a rigid line, but something that each person must determine for oneself based on one principle: work only as much as is necessary. Anything beyond what is necessary is redundant, and therefore draining, unpleasant, and detrimental.
This approach pertains to much more than work. It is the only way we can reach sustainable levels of consumption, the only way we can save the earth, the air, and the water from depletion and pollution.
If we balance our time and effort between work and leisure, it will give us time and energy for more emotionally rewarding activities. In short, we will all benefit from finding the right balance between work time and free time.
As for concerns about production demands and economic growth, I think we are already producing far too much. Most of the products we make and purchase do not add value to our lives. They do not make us happier and do not make our lives easier. The only ones who benefit from them are the makers’ shareholders, while the rest of us suffer from the consequential pollution, traffic congestion, and countless hours spent building redundant stuff.
Economists, and those whose livelihood depends on keeping the economic machine running, may sound the alarm at the sight of quiet quitting, but for the rest of us, I think it is good news. It is time to start living sanely. It will be better for us, better for our children, and better for Planet Earth.