10 January 2019, The Tablet

Les misérables

Les misérables

Lab Rats
(Atlantic books, 272 pp, £16.99)
Tablet bookshop price £15.29 • Tel 020 7799 4064

If anyone had suggested in the Shetland Library, or the Scarborough Hotel, or any of my other workplaces, that we should have a group hug and then build a duck out of Lego in 30 seconds, to maximise product­ivity, I’d have laughed. But that was then – in the days of job security, pension plans, strong unions. The worst thing I ever had to sit through was an in-service course on teaching run by someone who had never been in a classroom.

In the glorious here and now, you can order food, a car, a room in Paris, on your phone. You use Amazon, don’t you? Uber? Facebook? Airbnb? PayPal? But did you stop to wonder just how happy the worker who packed your parcel was? Or how stressed his manager was? Or how rich his boss was? Probably not, because it’s easier to hope that these compan­ies are warm and fuzzy places run by rather nerdy post–hippies, than to confront the truth. They’re awful places to work, for many ­reasons; and thank goodness we have an engaged, witty journalist to tell us about it.

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