Friday, July 24, 2015

Has The Modern Workplace Become A Prison?

Today, you have to give up a lot for a career. But have we given up too much?
Workers nowadays are routinely expected to do at least these five things for the sake of a job. 
  1. Be available outside traditional working hours, often late at night, sometimes all night.
  2. Tolerate harassment, abuse, and sometimes even behavior that would clinically be described as insane. 
  3. Accept contract, part-time, on-call, temporary, or other impermanent arrangements so as not to face a loss of income.
  4. Socialize with coworkers, effectively eliminating their right to a life outside workplace scrutiny.
  5. Open their social media activities to scrutiny from their employer.
All of these things impinge on one's right to a life outside the job. They impinge on people's freedom.
Worse than that, people are expected to somehow pledge a kind of personal allegiance to the work that they do. You must "live the brand" - if you work at a Dunkin' Donuts, it's not enough to just serve donuts anymore.
This sad state of affairs does not even speak to those who must work two or three jobs to pay the bills. And who are underpaid for those jobs, or unsafe, at that.
As we head into the weekend, I want to ask out loud if we are fully aware of the situation the modern worker faces, as far as losing a personal life goes.
Our relationships need us. Our partners, our kids.
Democracy needs us. We can't participate if we do not have time to think. 
Our spiritual selves need us. Our higher calling.
Have we allowed things to go too far?
For the next 48 hours it would be nice if we could take some time to reflect about this.
Really, really think about it. 
Photo of Alcatraz Prison via Wikimedia. Dunkin' Donuts photo by me. All opinions are my own and not those of my agency or the federal government as a whole.