Why Do People Work?

What Bosses Really Think About Returning to the Office: An Investigation by The American Prospect


How often do you think about getting back into the office after a vacation? Maybe you haven’t been looking for a job in months and are still grappling with the fact that you’re doing something you enjoyed in the first place. Or maybe you’d just rather avoid sitting at a desk.

Whatever your reasons for returning to work, there’s a good chance most of us are secretly glad we did. A study by Cornell University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Oxford found that the happiest and most productive people in the working world spend 40 percent of their time in the office. But while most workers enjoy some time at work, a lot of them don’t enjoy it for very long.

Why do people work every day? Are we programmed to work because it’s what we’re here to do? Or is it because we really enjoy it? And what’s so fun about work that we can’t get enough of it?

A new report by the American Prospect suggests it’s both. “Bosses Think You Enjoy Office Hours,” tells you the answer to the first question and “Why Do People Work?” explains why everyone isn’t a happy worker of the same age or background. The findings are based on a survey of nearly 3,000 bosses at organizations in the public and private sectors nationwide with workers of all ages and backgrounds – many of whom work long hours, many of them for years.

That’s a lot of bosses, and an enormous sample. But these findings are still useful, because bosses tend to think a lot about their employees’ experience at work. And for good reason. While it’s not all roses, the vast majority of people at work really do enjoy it – it’s just that they don’t really enjoy it for very long.

Here are the top 10 findings:

1. Some folks just need more structure than others.

One of the most surprising findings is that people with more structure in their jobs were happier. So why is that? Well, the researchers think it’s because those employees don’t have to deal with all the little interruptions that people without structure do. But the truth is, we all have

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