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Would You Get Paid To Do Nothing for The Rest of Your Life?
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Would You Get Paid To Do Nothing for The Rest of Your Life?

The crossroads at Korsvagen, Sweden. Photo by allen watkin from London, UK - Gothenburg, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32035085

It seems too good to be true—a job in Sweden that would pay you a generous salary to punch a clock twice a day and do whatever you want in-between.

First reported by The Washington Post and Atlas Obscura, the job is simple, if confounding: you show up every day to punch a clock, which in turn activates the lights at the Korsvagen train station in Gothenburg, Sweden. You're free to do whatever you want after that. Then, at the end of your shift, you simply return to the train station, punch the clock, and turn the lights off.

For your troubles, you're paid a salary of roughly $2,320 a month, and you'd be eligible for annual wage increases, vacation time, and a pension for your retirement (from clock-punching?), the only catch being that you couldn't pursue full-time employment otherwise. During your "shift", you can leave the train station to volunteer, indulge in hobbies, visit with friends, nap, read, watch movies, and basically do whatever you want. For the role itself, you can quit or retire like any other worker, but you're guaranteed full-time employment for life if you're selected and signed up.

The job doesn't accept applications until 2025 and goes live in 2026, but we can bet this one will be a highly sought-after Retirement Job.

While it sounds like the most inefficient light-switch design ever, the role is part of a conceptual art installation from artists Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby. The train station doesn't actually need the switcher, but the lights are viewable by the entire train station so the public knows when the worker is working or is out of the office. It's part of an imagining for "Eternal Employment." Per the written description of the installation:

Eternal Employment enacts "permanent employment" as living history. It projects this historically specific contractual form into the future. The meanings it will amass over time depend, among other things, on how work and employment are conceptualized over the next century. Eternal Employment could become a nostalgic memory, a future ruin, a utopian premonition of a post-work society, or all of the above.

 

It sounds too good to be true, but it raises some serious questions about what the job-holder would do once in the role. Culturally, Americans tend to seek happiness and meaning through work. Would that be possible in this role?

There's additional evidence that staying in a job longer keeps workers healthier compared to their non-working counterparts so would taking this job be a sure way to doom your long-term health?

One of the 6 domains of Age Friendliness we use here at Age Friendly Advisor is "Work and Volunteer Opportunities" because employment can provide so many benefits beyond just earning income: it can contribute to feelings of independence, socialization, provide mental stimulation, give a sense of growth and challenge to one's life, and create a nurturing environment that leads to happiness. It's pretty darn important at most life stages, but especially near or in retirement. This role would flip that on its head by providing an income while purposefully not offering those things.

Regardless of whether this is a classic "be careful what you wish for scenario," the art installation has already stimulated discussion around work and its place in our lives today. Let us know in the comments: would you take this job? If so, what would you do with the rest of your time?

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Comments (73)
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Sounds like a dream, BUT … Most of us need to be accountable in order to prioritize and complete activities, even those we enjoy. Without accountability most of us would perpetually procrastinate and/or start but who never finish anything. Our employment, besides making us accountable for what we do “on the clock,” takes up so much of our time that we are forced to prioritize and accomplish our activities “off the clock” as well! The Swedish “job” provides comfortable subsistence without any time pressure to prioritize or accomplish anything else. For most of us that’s an invitation to perpetual couch potato-hood!

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Nope. I’ll be getting about that much a month when I retire anyway, and as a writer, I have plenty to do. Plus, the whole idea about being retired is to sleep in as much as you want, and NOT punch a time clock...ever again. For anyone. I’ll be too busy creating my own art.

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I would accept this position. To fill the time, I would keep my part-time job of tutoring. I would also go to all the museums and cultural institutions to learn and enjoy. Finally, I would be able to make time to read all of the books in my library and then some.

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