10 reasons absolutely and without question not to buy ‘Unf*cking Work’

Neil Usher
4 min readSep 30, 2022

There’s a good chance my new book isn’t for you. It’s probably not for far more people than it’s for. Which makes me wonder why I wrote it in the first place. But now it’s out at the end of this month, published by the most excellent Zer0 Books, fair warning to avoid it at all costs (£13.99 just for your information) seems appropriate.

So here are ten reasons why you absolutely and without question shouldn’t buy it, because:

1. It’s not a predictable business book, written to a time-honoured formula — theory, model, rinse, repeat. Over and over, until what should have been a tweet becomes a book, as tweets don’t get into the bestseller list. You won’t need to find something more useful to do at the same time with the other hand. Nor keep a sharp pencil to hand to stab yourself in the thigh while reading it, just in case you lose consciousness altogether.

2. It’s written by someone who has worked in a variety of industries and sectors for years, and not just in an academic office with the curtains drawn and a bottle of vodka in the desk drawer (true story, as it happens); who has lived and worked through many of the scenarios described, and not just interviewed executives.

3. You won’t want to feel even the slightest tremor of culpability. Any kind of feeling at all, in fact, that in repeating the phrases dismantled in the book you’ve been unwittingly aiding the codification and solidification of the apparatus of work in which we find ourselves hostage. All the facets of work you’d like to change. For which someone else is to blame, and someone else is responsible for fixing. It’s a tough realisation. Best avoided.

4. You don’t want to blow it all up and re-build it. There’s a whole pipeline of consulting work and multiple blogging and authoring opportunities from the circular struggle to try and fix work for everyone. So the less actually said about fixing it for good, all the better. Move along. Nothing to see here.

5. Work for you is tickety-boo, despite the torturous quest for validation, and the imposter syndrome eating you up at 3am on Monday. You bring your whole self, which is slightly unsettling for your colleagues and those on the 5.37 from Shenfield, but it’s all about getting promoted, after all.

6. Culture has no place in a business book. Literature, philosophy, music — they all belong after closing time. What the hell are KLF, Max Stirner and Ernest Hemingway doing in here? We’ve got Bridge Clubs for things like this. Your read has to be as dry as a privatised water company’s reservoirs, after all. Quoting lots of other business books. Or it’s not serious.

7. You’d rather stay focussed, instead, on the cut and thrust of the respectful, open and free flowing dialectic playing out on social channels exploring the respective benefits for the privileged minority of working at the office or from home. And when the will to live has evaporated, you can’t wait to see how many days at the office turn out to be the optimum. Even though you don’t work in one.

8. You’d rather be ‘quiet quitting’ instead. Arms folded, working your wage. Even though you’re salaried, and can get away with doing sod all most days. And you’re not really sure what quiet quitting means or why your colleagues are miffed with you for doing it. Instead of putting your undoubted time, energy and talent to actually seeking ways to fix work for everyone. Like in the book you’re not going to buy or read.

9. There’s no silver bullet. No ultimate hack. Which is what business books are supposed to have to justify the two-pints-of-lager price tag. The re-build of each of the statements suggests hard work, commitment, motivation, dedication, collegiality, decency — all absolutely exhausting. Best left to others who aren’t as busy looking busy.

10.You don’t want to be seen on the train reading it. Because of its sweary title and sartorial punks and 55 (at last count) tasteful and entirely necessary appearances of the F word in it. But like that was ever a reason not to buy a book. Just have a look at your thought bubbles, you’re cool with it.

All of which means, you’ll not want to know at all that it’s out on 30th September which is actually today and is available from wherever you buy your books. If you buy them, that is. Yes, I do still get asked by people where they can get it from. Really.

So — enjoy not buying or reading it. You know it absolutely and without question makes sense.



Neil Usher

work & workplace protagonist | #ElementalWorkplace and #ElementalChange originator | rumoured to create human environments | known to blog