A couple of days ago I went to the New Lanark to check out the historic mills that made famous by Robert Owen and his revolutionary way to conduct his business. I thought I was excited to just see the textile mills and especially the ones that are currently working. However, I was quite surprised to learn about how Robert Owen lead the way to revolutionise the industrial working and living environment of his workforse.
At a time when business men and company owners wanted to be profitable rather than have healthy and happy employees, Robert Owen saw the benefits the happy community of worker would provide to the profits of his business. Since buying New Lanark mills from his father-in-law, Owen starts his “Great Experiment” in 1800. He reduced the daily working hours for all his employees, banished work from children under 10 years of age, introduced healthcare for all his employees, and a sickness fund alongside it, he build co-operative store so his employees could buy quality goods for fair prices, he build a school for children, introduced childcare and evening classes for working people. He and his philosophy were ahead of its time by over a century. He was world renown for his content and healthy employees with healthy and well-mannered village children and a profitable business model. He was a philantrophist, early day social entrepreneur and although currently his model of small communities of workforse might be connencted to colonies, the basic prinsiple of how to treat employees is still something every company should strive for. Listening and reading about his business model made me think how the world would be a different place if all the other textile factories worked in a similar way!
In addition to the exemplar way to treat the workforse, New Lanark was a great example of how to be nearly self-sufficient. It was built on a riverbank on a side of Fall’s of Clyde, where they produced their own hydro electricity that powered the whole mill. Robert Owen’s philosophy and work was the model for current working conditions, health care, co-operative movement and education that we currently have.
I am extremely inspired by Robert Owen’s thinking and if you were inspired as well go check more about New Lanark and Robert Owen’s work here.