I have a dream. A dream that one day I will be able to work from home, sitting in my pyjamas, working away at whatever time suits me. However, I do not think this will be a reality.
As previously mention in this post, I am a nana because I constantly engage in debates about why technology is a detrimental advancement in our lives. I really do not like the way in which it dictates our lives, both professionally and personally – unless it grants me my dream. More fuel has been added to my fiery debate as this week I explored the notion of liquid labour.
Liquid labour is about the flexibility that our labour has because it is – as Ted describes – as “always available” because it has “unrestrained borders” due to technology. The invention of the smartphone is probably the simplest example to use as it is a device that we can literally take with us anywhere at anytime. How many times have you seen someone checking their emails at a coffee shop or at their child’s sporting game?
Peter Bradwell suggests that communications technologies have super-charged the way in which we as individuals work as the accessibility to work means that an increasing number of people continue working at home and at other various locations ensuring that more work is done than an average person would do within working hours. Hansi Lo Wang believes that technologies – such as smartphones and tablets – have become “digital leashes to the office” making it harder for individuals to walk away at the end of the day and disconnect.
But this is what more individuals want according to Bradwell (2008, p.27) stating, “money is not the sole incentive anymore…employees are looking for values that match their own, and work that fits with their life.” Which is fair enough as we are having families later in life, living longer and working longer hours. I mean, who does not want to be able to work from home, in their pyjamas, at whatever time suits them, so long as their boss is happy? Well, if you work for Yahoo, sadly, this is a far off reality.
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, banned her employees from working at home in 2013 and caused great controversy. However, I feel that she had good reasoning to do so saying, “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side…some of the best decisions and insights come from impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.” I believe that she is right and this is fair. It also enables employees to leave work at work and engage in their social lives of an evening and weekend. Hopefully, this will put an end to those disgruntled adults at children’s sporting games who are constantly attached to their iPhones because “work demands the majority of my time”.
The more that technology develops and it encroaches into our daily lives, the more likely we are to not be able to disconnect. Our workplaces will become zones of silence as we will forget how to talk and collaborate with one another and there will be no work completed as we are longing for the day to finish so we can do it at home. However, I believe that once working from home is implemented across a myriad of workplaces, I believe they will want to revert – similarly to that of Yahoo.
Deuze summarises this idea of liquid labour by saying, “the way we do and understand things is increasingly transformed through and implicated by the way we engage with the media in our lives.”