Technology got our hope up. It was supposed to free us completely from all the bonds of time and space. Fully functioning home offices, video-conferencing, seamless flexi-working, the ability to text, ping, click and instagram were supposed to be the tools that set us free. How about the ‘freedom’ to write, amend and file documents from anywhere at any time – that’s given us a lot more personal time, hasn’t it? Flexi-working and job sharing should have allowed us to kick the commute into touch, fit personal and family commitments into traditional business hours, bring work and life into balance and leave us all full of harmony and joy.
We have a sneaking suspicion that this hasn’t actually happened.
Here’s an interesting example to think about. If you’ve ever travelled business class with certain airlines, you’ll know that you can order a meal at any time your heart desires, day or night. How fantastic is that? Service on demand. Never mind that the trolley and the steward banging up and down the aisle all evening is disrupting my €4K sleep as they move to serve my insomniac neighbour.
In the race to provide service, the boss of XYZ airlines has missed the fact that there is a distinction between having food at any time and being allowed to get some rest without the additional smells and noise.
When we look at the boundaries between work and home, we can see, in retrospect of course, that they were actually quite useful.
They stopped both employees and employers blurring the distinction between the two. Now that everyone is technically accessible all the time, guess what? Employers are accessing their workforce all the time. The latest research suggests that the average home worker ‘gives’ their employer an average 24 days a year. When your home is your workplace and your workplace is your home and your boss is still your boss, it becomes much harder to say, “Hang on a sec boss, I’m feeding the kids their tea”. Add that to a set of economic conditions that make us all increasingly fearful for our jobs and it becomes almost impossible not to go that extra mile and the miles after that and the miles after that.
‘The Man’ used to own us from nine to five. Now, our work, our company, our boss are in our heads as soon as we wake up and reach for the mobile before we reach for our loved one and well into the evening as we check our emails ‘just in case’ before we retire for the night.
We have a sneaking (and sinking) suspicion that it can only get worse.
For further information contact Melvin Day at mday@marketingmovescom or follow us on Twitter, Linked In or contact us on +4419322533