One Friday I was talking with a college about plans for the weekend. I told her that was going to do some home improvement stuff, to which she replied, "It'll be nice to do some thing real" as to opposite of our abstract work at the office.
Later this got me thinking about how a see my work. Do I really think of it as only something virtual?
In my spear time, I enjoy building stuff, log hewing. Now working with heavy timber by any definition is 'real work'. You use 'real tools' like axe's and chain saws. You get gritty hands and sweaty backs. It does not get any more concrete than this, does it?
What about my day job then?
I work as a demand planner at a Finnish textile company and most of what I do is numbers in spreadsheets or settings and parameters in our forecasting and replenishment tool or lines in process drawings. All of which is somewhat virtual, as I do not actually cut fabric or move boxes. By definition, this would be abstract, as it does not have a physical referent.
However, it does not feel abstract to me. Is it because I have a general understanding of the inner workings of a database, the place where our numbers reside? Is it because it have a grasp of entire process of our company? Does this lead me to see the effect of my work, even if the physical result of it is geographically distant or in the future? Similar to that when starting to shape a log, with just an idea in my head.
I wunder how other office dwellers view their work, do they share the general perception that office work is primarily abstract?