Punchcard Economy

Surrendering Recreation?

Nov 07 2013 · by Sam Meech

Dr Claire McAndrew is a Research Associate and Chartered Psychologist at The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London, interested in the concepts of health and wellbeing; security and resilience; and the future workplace as they extend beyond buildings into the fabric of the city.

Here she observes how ‘recreation’ is often the first to be sacrificed in the name of flexibility, and may not always be ‘recreation’ in the first place.

Below the text is a knitted pattern repeat, based on her hours recorded beyond a basic ‘8 hour shift’ for the week 14 – 20 October.

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Clocking an eighty-eight-hour working week necessitated a decision. Which is to be surrendered, recreation or rest? A decision encountered from time-to-time, recreation is always cut.

The week had seen the culmination of an architectural research project. The fruit of eight months labour out in the public realm; now was the time to observe our experimental ideas in action. Only, observing others’ in their eight hours of recreation at the start and end of each working day pulled me from my own.

I use the term ‘recreation’ loosely. Not least because commuting seems to sit at odds with recreation – but because our project was about (re)choreographing ‘non-place’. Hardly the type of space one would choose to spend time. My own hours of ‘recreation’ are a mixture of getting ready for work and commuting through these transient spaces – all extensions in my mind of my working week. Certainly not indulgent moments of leisure.

It is worth pointing out that my eighty-eight hour working week is uncharacteristically high. The daily act of punching in my hours providing a level of quantification rarely considered. A process that feels strangely cathartic, knowing each hour punched is acknowledged [albeit by someone unknown]. A process that hints at the blurring boundaries between professional scholarship and the everyday, as I sit on the night bus wondering whether this thinking time ought to be ‘punched’ in.

As I write this piece, I wonder where it falls? Unlike the architectural research project, this certainly does not feel like ‘work’; and yet as I craft together these words in a moment of ‘recreation’, I am unable to shake my academic tone. The issue it seems is about choice

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