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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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By the end of her first week living in Denmark, Helen Russell was worried about her husband's brand-new job.

She explained in an article she wrote for Stylist that she was sure Lego had fired him already because he kept coming home early.

Originally from the U.K., Russell was used to her home country's work customs, where late nights and long hours were worn as a badge of honor. She felt surprised and embarrassed when her husband first came home from work in the early afternoon — she'd hardly started her own day of freelance writing.


The trend continued, she said, and by Friday, her husband was strolling through the door as early as 2:30 p.m. But it wasn't a reflection of his work ethic. It turns out, in Denmark, working fewer hours is ... just what people do.

Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images.

This healthy work-life balance is such a crucial part of Danish culture that they even boast about it on the country's official website.

It's a major point of pride for Denmark, which has a reputation for being the happiest country in the world. The government encourages a 37-hour workweek, a designated lunch break, a minimum five weeks of paid vacation, extended and paid parental leave, and flexible schedules with the option to work from home as well as incentives for child care. On average, Danes spend less than one-third of their time working — and yet, they're still more productive than most of the European Union or the United States.

You might be thinking, "What's the catch?" But the truth is that Danish values and national attitudes are behind the country's commitment to work-life balance.

Photo by Jon Olav Nesvold/AFP/Getty Images.

1. Workers in Denmark are trusted to deliver on whatever their job is.

Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images.

By and large, people want to work. They want to do a good job. But many people wrongly assume that others are inherently lazy, that work is a reflection of our moral values, and that time equals productivity. (But, in fact, a lot of jobs that exist today aren't even measurably productive.)

So what if, instead of finding ways to pass the time until the clock hits 5 p.m., we just did what we had to do for work and then called it a day? What if you were actually empowered to take personal responsibility into your own hands rather than relying on the threats of a manager lurking in the corner making sure you put in the physical time at a desk?

That's what Denmark does. As Russell writes that one of her Danish friends explained to her, "Come Cinderella hour — home time — everyone from the receptionist to the CEO goes. We're trusted to do a good job; do our work; then leave." Maybe that's how they get so much stuff done?

2. Family is obviously important, but in Danish culture, people are actually encouraged to value their families — and everyone else respects it.

Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images.


According to Russell's experience, it's totally normal for people in Denmark to list their child care pickups and other family business in their digital calendars for others to see. There shouldn't be any shame in prioritizing family. (And if you don't have a family? You deserve the same freedom.) Also in Denmark, child care is tax-deductible, and the state provides maid services and pensions for the elderly.

This emphasis on family extends to the country's educational approach as well. Rather than using an exam-based schooling system, Denmark is "hugely child-centered and this leads to well-rounded and enthusiastic children," according to teacher Stephanie Lambert, another transplant from Britain.

The country's focus on fewer working hours frees up educators to invest in the personalized needs of students as individuals rather than stressing about uniform success. And as a result, Danish children have these same values instilled in them from a young age. It's ingrained in them by the time they join the workforce, and they'll pass these same values down.

3. Danes also recognize work and play shouldn't be at odds with one another. Everyone benefits from a little R and R — workers and bosses.

Photo by William West/AFP/Getty Images.

More work means more stress, which means more health problems and less getting done. Maybe that's one reason why the Danes spend so much less on health care?

Studies have shown vacations make our brains more creative, which is why vacation days should not be treated as some rare commodity, hoarded like gold for some far-future payoff, or used to cover for other personal matters. People in Denmark receive a minimum five weeks of paid vacation time, and they actually use it — without any fear of shame or social stigma.

It's a simple truth that many Danes recognize, from day laborers to high-end executives: Happier workers are better workers. "We think everyone has a right to be respected, from a CEO to a janitor," Danish psychotherapist Iben Sandahl told The Local. "We try to teach our children to focus on the good in themselves and others rather than on status or labels."

Denmark's model of work-life balance is proof that time is not the same as productivity, and treating people well is actually better for everyone.


Granted, there are some people who think the Danish secret to happiness is actually just lowered expectations. Yet, being humble, realistic, and appreciative isn't such a bad thing.

Either way, the Danes have proven a healthy moderation of labor and leisure is not only possible, but it's measurably preferable to forcing people to live to work and work themselves to death. Maybe it's time the rest of us followed their example.


This article originally appeared on November 23, 2016





Joy

Weird jobs most people don't even know exist that can actually make good money

There's a person who's whole job is just to take care of plants on movie and TV sets.

There are people who make a living smelling and tasting things.

When people ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, some common career themes usually emerge—doctor, firefighter, teacher, artist, computer programmer, architect, pilot, journalist and the like. These jobs are familiar to everyone, and even if we don't fully know the ins and out of what each job entails, we have a solid picture of what they do and why their job is important.

There are also less obvious jobs that we might not think of as dream careers but still know exist and are important, like mortician, plumber, garbage collector, truck driver or postal delivery person.

But there's also a whole world of jobs that most people have never heard of or even imagined—and some of them even pay surprisingly well. Here's a handful of weird jobs that people do without most of the world knowing.


Escort (but not that kind of escort)

The movies make much of "escorts" in our nation's capital, but this is a different kind of escort that involves having security clearance and being physically present. That's it.

"When you work as a government employee or contractor with a top secret clearance, after you retire or get laid off, you can work as an escort within classified facilities called SCIFs. Escorts are needed when an uncleared person needs to work in the SCIF. For example, it might be a top secret data center that needs an air conditioner repair. All the escort has to do is watch the repairman and stay with them throughout the visit. They usually just drag a chair over and sit there while getting paid damn good money." – BaconReceptacle

"One of the most quietly-frustrating months of my life was doing hard labor on a government building site as a construction worker, going like ~80 hours a week, and realizing the annoying escort I had who was sitting around all day watching us was making a significant amount more than me." – Few-Metal8010

Tasters and smellers

Some people get paid just to taste or smell things. Even pet food. (How does one get this job? Genuinely curious.)

"I used to be friends with one of Heineken's official tasters. She literally drank every day for work. Don't know how the pay was but she didn't seem broke." – curiousvegetables

"My sister in law is 'the nose' for yankee candle. When a vat of scented wax is ready, she sniffs it." – Loreo1964

"My mom used to work for a sensory company that was outsourced by huge brands to do taste, smell, texture testing. Once many years ago I got in on a hot pocket panel because their target market was teens. I made $20 and got a free hot pocket. She made good money though!" – brownbostonterrier


woman hanging a piece of art

Hanging art is an art in itself.

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Professional picture hanger

Yep, the thing all of us do in our own homes for free (with varying levels of success) is an actual paid job for people in the art world. And some of them can make a pretty decent living at it.

"An old neighbor of mine was a picture hanging specialist contracted by many museums. He made 75K a year at the time (about 150K adjusted for inflation)." – Schwarzes__Loch

"A buddy of mine does this and makes great money. Most of the clients are rich people with private collections. They also pack and transport the artwork." – frankyseven

Flavorists

On the other end of the food business are the magical chemists who create the yummy flavors we enjoy in candies and other treats.

"My dad was a master flavorist. He made artificial flavors for candy, beverages and lots of other things. He made a LOT of money during his career." – Whoru87

"I'm an analytical chemist for a flavor company who (among other things) reverse engineers competitive flavors to give the flavor chemists insight lol.

Indeed they make bank.

Finding out how you can make a naturally derived ie citrus flavor taste the same every time when you have to source your extracts and oils from different places in the world, at different times of the year, while the stock might be a different age due to supply issues can be a lot more complex than one might think." – die_lahn

"It is my absolute dream job to be a certified flavor chemist/flavorist. Used to work under a couple at a very niche company (could only make fruit/menthol flavors), and recently moved into food industry thinking I’d be able to gain more experience in savory applications. Unfortunately that has not been the case for me so far. Wish they had more flavor houses hiring in Norcal! Learning directly under an expert is the only way to do it." – Successful-Ad5488


set of hobbiton from lord of the rings

Someone has to keep the plants on set thriving.

Photo by Neha Godbole on Unsplash

Greensperson on film sets

There are actually a lot of jobs on film sets that people aren't aware of, but taking care of plants on sets full time is certainly not on most people's radar.

"I’m a greensperson in the film industry. I’m responsible for building and maintaining the plants and trees on a set." – Prospector_Steve

"In general many people sleep on behind the scenes jobs in Hollywood. It’s a good way to make money and you get to meet celebrities." – Immediate_Revenue_90

"A lot of filming locations are chosen based on the tax breaks the studio can get for filming there, and not on the 'correct' climate or biome. And sometimes, an outdoor scene will be shot on an indoor stage if an appropriate location can't be found which is safe, accessible, meets the needs of the camera positioning, etc.

A film/TV production is a massive, expensive machine, and often small details have to be sacrificed in order to keep it oiled and running smoothly. This isn't just true of the greens department, but all of them, really (costumes, props, etc.)" – ethacct

Organ runner

More commonly known as a "medical courier," this job entails transporting human organs (or tissue or blood) from place to place. Time is of the essence with an organ being transplanted, so this job requires being on call and knowing how to safely transport the goods. But according to at least one person on Reddit, it's a pretty sweet gig:

"I worked as an 'Organ deliverer.' Forgot the official title for around a year.

Job was simple I was stationed in the biggest hospital in my state. If an organ donation was received that needed to go to another hospital for a transplant it was my job to move it.

I was paid $40 an hour to most nights sit on my ass in the break room and watch TV or play on my phone. I'd probably only have to deliver something once a week at most. It was an okay job except that it was boring as shit, since the hospital I was 'Stationed' at did 95% of all the organ transplants in my state. And the other major hospital that did them was around 3 hours away and you wouldn't ever have to go up to north to it.

Lots of pay to sit around but well I wasn't exactly feeling fulfilled career wise." – Larcya

bats flying

Bat tracking (and other urban wildlife tracking) is an important ecological job.

Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash

Batman (or urban bat tracker, to be precise)

This might be the most poetic job description ever written:

"You ever heard of an urban bat tracker? That's me. I'm the guy who steps into the night when the city sleeps, tracking the unseen ballet of bats against the backdrop of empty offices and starlit skies. My job is a blend of science and solitude. Armed with detectors that translate bat echolocation into something audible, I map their flight, study their behavior, and contribute to research that's vital for urban ecosystem conservation. It's not just a job it's a commitment to understanding these misunderstood creatures of the night. The experience is surreal. As the world winds down, my work begins. I walk through parks and alleyways, under bridges and alongside rivers. The citys nocturnal pulse becomes my soundtrack - a car horn here, a distant laughter there, all underlined by the constant, rhythmic clicking of my bat detector. Each night is a lesson in patience and awe. Bats, these tiny, agile creatures, dart and dive in the darkness, almost like shadows flitting at the edge of my vision. There's a poetry in their flight, a kind of silent music that fills the night air. The pay is decetn, surprisingly. It's a niche field, and expertise in urban wildlife ecology can be hard to come by. But it's not the money that keeps me here. It's the moments of connection, the feeling of being a part of something bigger and wilder, right in the heart of the city. Sometimes the most extraordinary things are hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered in the quiet symphony of the night." – Local_dog91

There are so many more interesting jobs, from testing medical equipment to felting mini-golf courses to taking care of rich people's cars, homes and horses. If you're looking for work, keep your eyes and ears out for unusual opportunities. You just never know what kinds of careers you might stumble into.

Democracy

Under French law, businesses can’t email employees after work hours

In France, there’s a rule against emailing employees on the weekend.

Image via Pixabay.

France is famous for protecting its employees.

Nothing can ruin a relaxing weekend or holiday like an email from the office. Even if there's no need to take action until Monday, the unwanted intrusion of professional life can really suck the joy out of a Sunday afternoon barbecue.

That's why the country that's famous for giving its employees 30 days off a year and 16 weeks of full-paid family leave in May 2016 made itself even cooler with its new "right to disconnect" rule.


In France, if you're a company of 50 employees or more, you cannot email an employee after typical work hours. The labor law amendment has come about because studies show that in the digital age, it's increasingly difficult for people to distance themselves from the workplace during their off hours.

This new provision allows people to get the full advantage of their time off.

culture, France, labor laws, emails

France Kiss GIF by Robert E Blackmon.

Giphy by Robert E. Blackmon.

"All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant," Benoit Hamon of the French National Assembly told the BBC. "Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash — like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails — they colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down."

The rule stipulates that companies must negotiate policies that limit the spillover of work into their employees' private lives. Although there are no penalties for violations, companies are to establish "charters of good conduct" that specify the times which employees are free from being digitally connected to their workplaces.

This right to disconnect amendment was passed as part of a controversial French labor law that some say will weaken unions and enhance employee job insecurity. The digital disconnect amendment was the one part of the law that's been viewed favorably by the French public.

This article originally appeared on 11.12.17

Two totally different approaches to a standard work day.

A video posted to TikTok by lifestyle content creator Hunter shows both men and women entering the office for work—and there’s one stark difference between the two that has people chuckling.

The clip begins with four women, all of whom enter with at least two bags, plus multiple beverage cups. Honestly, it’s a marvel any of them manage to swipe their key card and open the door with hands that full.

Then their male co-workers enter, and it’s a completely different story.


All three of the male employees enter with absolutely nothing in their hands. No bags. Not bottles. No coffee cups. Zip. Nadda.

"I will never understand how guys can show up with nothing in their hands," Hunter wrote in her video’s caption.

@hd33333 I will never understand how guys can show up with nothing in their hands😂 #work #officelife #fyp #foryoupage❤️❤️ #fypage #showinguptoworklike #guysvsgirls ♬ Funny - Gold-Tiger

Look, there are a few obvious factors at play here.

Women are far more likely to spruce up their appearance during bathroom breaks, hence the need for a bag that carries makeup. Plus, they need a bag for any time-of-the-month needs. If they have a workout scheduled later, they probably are taking a gym bag rather than wearing workout clothes all day.

And let’s not get started on how their regular women’s clothes likely offer no pockets to tuck away any of these items. So all in all, it makes sense that they would need to carry more stuff. You could even pose a theory about it relating to a natural inclination to gather and forage, but maybe that’s a stretch.

Psychology musings aside, viewers found themselves relating to the video, and chimed in with their own views on packing for the office.

One woman quipped, “I work from home, and this is still how I arrive,” while others stood by their pack-for-everything stance.

“Ladies are moving in for the day. We have needs and we don’t really know what they will be so we plan for all things,” another added.

We are prepared and it’s why we live longer,” a third said.

Several women also justified the need for multiple beverages throughout the day. One wrote, “People make fun of me but I need a caffeinated drink, a hydration drink and a fun drink! What’s so hard to understand?" referring to the popular “three drink theory” that supposedly helps with productivity.

Meanwhile, men shared a much simpler point of view.

"Phone. Wallet. Keys. Done," one commented.

Another joked, “I don’t bring this much stuff on vacation.”

Sometimes it's fun to have a good laugh at all the quirks that make us different. And I think we can all agree that regardless of gender differences, we're all just trying to make a work day as smooth and stress-free as possible.