Your vision of work is skewed by your filter bubble. “would be heard ceaseless chatter about workflows and deltas, about plans and benchmarks, about scaling up, monetisation and growth.” While I don’t work in your environment I recognize the buzz words in that sentence fragment.
I think you have been drinking too much of the Kool Aide.
Even your title is a little ignorant (not like idiotic but like uninformed) for a long time a sizable part of the population lived like that “If work dominated your every moment would life be worth living?” That pretty much described the life of small dairy farmers and many other small farmers. It was a life they consider worth living it was a life they wanted to pass on to their children. It actually was not a job, it was a life, not a life style, a life you lived until you could not do it any more and became dependent on your kids.
I can’t be sure but I think some aid workers live a life immersed in their work.
Back to reading the rest of your story. I just wanted to point out your perspective is not universal but you don’t acknowledge that anywhere in the early part of the story.