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How white-collar warriors prepare for the day

“handhe Iliad This is a story of glory and god, vengeance and mercy, death and immortality. Squint enough, and it’s workplace talk, too. The epic begins with a big fight between two colleagues, Agamemnon and Achilles. The gods are the supreme leadership team, descending from above to cause utter chaos. For most of the book, Achilles, the archetype of the gifted bastard, is on strike. This is a big problem for the Greek management, which has lost a top performer.delegation from Human Resources Department I could not persuade Achilles. But in the end he returned to the office and all was well (Trojans may not agree).

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The analogy between the 21st century workplace and the “Iliad” is plainly inaccurate. Today there are fewer swords and spears that glow at the dawn of rosy fingers. There is a little less brain matter on the floor. But to understand the connection between Homer’s epic and modern times, notice Achilles preparing to return to work.

“Come on, let me arm myself for war,” he says in Volume 19. Arming Achilles has since pioneered the outfitting scene, from Chaucer to Rambo. But it is also an echo of our current daily rituals. Achilles wears bronze shin guards and a shining breastplate. Employees choose clothes that they don’t wear on weekends. Achilles wears a helmet with a golden plume. Commuters wear Bose headphones. Homer’s hero takes in his hands a shield forged by Hephaestus, god of fire. An office worker packs a laptop and a charger into a rucksack.

Most, but not all, of this white-collar armed activity takes place within the home. It happens even on the way to the battlefield, when compacts appear and makeup is applied to the tube. In some cases, transformation happens in the office itself. Trainers are replaced with heels. Colleagues in Lycra disappear from sight and reappear in less obnoxious looks.

Whether you’re King of Myrmidons or Barry of Accounts, the battle may be near, but it won’t be arriving anytime soon. Both have thresholds that must be crossed before any real action can begin. In Homer’s epic, Achilles watched the war in his camp. When he appeared on the shore, the Greeks knew he intended to rejoin the battle. A feast is prepared before the battle begins (Achilles refused to eat; there were probably no vegan options). Armed, he climbed into his chariot and rode to the front lines “shining like the sun god Hyperion.”

For remote workers, the gap between personal life and work may be narrow. Just walk from the fridge to the living room (and back again and back again). that’s a problem. Entering the workplace means wearing a different personality and different clothes. However, self-control is strengthened. Having a clear line between home and work will make the transition easier.

Office-goers have even more thresholds to cross. They go out into the street in the morning and walk to their desks. They go into a cafe to have their morning coffee. A brisk walk with a cup is the easiest way to let the rest of the public know that you are doing a good job. At some point, they meet their fellow employees for the first time. Very unfortunate, this meeting takes place at the start of his commute, and on public transport he spends 40 minutes excruciating small talk. Usually that just means the office is close.

After that, the employee must enter the office itself. Be greeted by a security guard, swipe your pass, and press the lift button. Visitors to the office participate in an additional armed scene at this point, signing a register with an illegible name and being given a lanyard. Thank you Hyperion.

The time for action is imminent. Outside the walls of Troy, Achilles springs forward like a “fierce lion.” A cycle of genocide begins and ends with Hector’s death. White-collar workers also have to make final preparations for the next day. The rucksack is removed and the computer is turned on. Salaryman Hero dashed forward, whipping his chin, to take the last bite of the croissant. Bread crumbs splatter on your keyboard and carpet. Your heart rate stays exactly the same as the password is entered and the loading wheels spin. It’s time.

Homer would never have made a name for himself in an epic set in the office. Death and Glory warrants a more dramatic narrative than emails and meetings. But when you put on your work clothes, look professional, and hit the first key without mercy, you’re more than just an infantryman. you are little Achilles

Read more from business and work columnist Bartleby:
Potential and plight of middle management (June 29th)
“Expansion of Human Resources” is a textbook work of business administration (June 22nd)
The positive side of workplace jargon (June 15th)

Related Article: How the Bartleby Column Works got that name

https://www.economist.com/business/2023/07/06/how-white-collar-warriors-gear-up-for-the-day How white-collar warriors prepare for the day

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