When I was in my first year at Uni, about a century ago or so, I took a summer job. For a few months, I was running a one-man quality control lab. I was responsible for taking daily samples of cement, processing it, and recording a number of data including temperature, moisture, etc.
This was the last job I ever held in an office, if it can even be considered that. Ever since, I’ve worked from home. Which is probably why a writer’s life suits me so well.
I thought of this when I came across an article on The Economist. Its author argued that workers, and possibly all people, can be divided into two groups. Those who like to be involved in everything and can be dubbed “FOMOS” because they suffer from a “fear of missing out”. And then there are those who would ideally want to be left to get on with their own particular work, without distraction—the “JOMOS” (joy of missing out).
FOMO or JOMO?
I suspect most of you will instantly know your tribe. If your boss announces a new project, do you immediately volunteer, thinking this will be a great chance to prove your skills? If so, you are a FOMO. Or do you foresee the hassle involved, the likely failure of the project, and the weekend emails from all the FOMOs wanting to spend less time with their families? Then you are a certified JOMO.
Another test is technology. FOMOs are early adopters, snapping up the latest gadgets and sending documents to colleagues via the latest file-sharing program. JOMOs believe that any tech upgrade will be troublesome and wonder why on earth their colleagues can’t send the document as a pdf.
Networking events are the kind of thing that gets FOMOs excited as a chance to exchange ideas and make contacts. When I hear the word “networking”, I reach for our noise-canceling headphones. For us JOMOs, attending an industry cocktail party is like attending the wedding of someone we barely know; an extended session of social purgatory.
Eat and Travel
Then, there’s the dreaded breakfast meeting. I still chuckle about the time David, my business partner in Edinburgh, a certified FOMO, dragged me to a California-inspired breakfast network meeting thing. I spent the whole time there half-asleep. When the time came to give away our business cards, I managed to give away one, to the person sitting next to me. David probably got a million or so. Honestly, I have no idea. Did I mention I was half-asleep? For some reason, FOMOs look at a breakfast meeting as a chance to start the day on a positive note. They hate to turn one down in case they lost business, or the chance of career advancement. As for me, I resented setting their alarm earlier and would much rather breakfast at my kitchen table, grumbling about the news headlines to Electra. If it’s a work meeting, then hold it during working hours.
As for business trips, FOMOs love them. We JOMOs know that such travel involves cramped airline seats, jet lag, and a long shuffle through immigration. Of course, I recognize that I have to attend some meetings and go on trips to get my work done. But I regard such things as a penance, not a privilege. Something useful may come out of it, but best not to get one’s hopes up. I’d rather spend the time in front of my desk, actually getting things done.
Dogs vs Cats
So, why would someone prefer to hire a JOMO? Well, JOMOs will be loyal, for fear of ending up with a worse employer. But FOMOs may think that working for one company means they are missing out on better conditions at another. That is the point of most networking, after all.
Also, while FOMOs are racing from meeting to networking event, you need a few JOMOs to be doing actual work. If FOMOs are like dogs, barking excitedly and chasing their own tails, JOMOs are more feline. We’ll spring into action if a mouse is in the vicinity but, in the meantime, are content to sit by the fire.
Could it be I’m a cat person after all?