The 168-Hour Work Week
If the line between your work and home life hasn’t yet been blurred by near-ubiquitous Internet connectivity, just you wait. Because by 2020 it’s likely to have been erased entirely. That’s the word from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, whose recent “Future of the Internet III” study suggests that the dawn of the mobile phone as a “primary” Internet connection will essentially obliterate the boundaries between work and home. Fifty-six percent of the Pew survey’s respondents agreed that by 2020 the formalized delineation of social, personal, and work time will have disappeared. “The 9-to-5 approach will disappear completely, with few exceptions,” ICANN Board member Roberto Gaetano told Pew. “The current separation between ‘work time’ and ‘free time’ is a byproduct of the industrial revolution, and is bound to disappear with it.”
So 12 years from now our work lives will be our lives entire?
That’s an unsettling thought. But if we’re always connected, always on the grid, then what’s to stop it from coming to pass? What’s to stop “the expansion of the work to encompass all time and all space,” as Nick Carr described it in his comments to Pew researchers. A reassertion of the same boundaries we’re seeing erased, I imagine. Otherwise we may have this to look forward to…
Said Benjamin Ben-Baruch, senior market intelligence consultant and applied sociologist for Aquent: “In 2020…a myth will develop that outside of formally scheduled activities, work and play can be seamlessly integrated in most of these workers’ lives. Employers will attempt to convince us that this is a net positive for people because we will be able to blend personal/professional duties…. However the reality will be quite different. Because we can be surveilled whenever we are ‘connected’ and especially because we can be surveilled whenever we are connected using our employer-provided devices, we can and will be controlled. Our employers will gain even more control over work-time discipline and over our lives and will be able to force even more productive working hours from us. Our lives will in fact be increasingly controlled by those who provide us with the devices that will have become increasingly necessary for us in both our work and personal lives as well as those who own and control the networks and network sites that we use and visit. Some companies will try to distinguish themselves as companies that do not actually use their power to watch and control us–but most companies will do the ‘fiscally responsible’ thing of using available technology to assert control.”