Imbalance For Some, Imbalance For All


Unbalanced Scales, released as public domain through Wikicommons

There’s an article in the Toronto Sun newspaper — about Canadians struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance — that I found interesting for two reasons.

The first had to do with the technology that was supposed to give more free time to workers in the first place, not rob them of it —- email, the cell phone, VPN remote access, and mobile computing. When I first started learning about computers as a teen, futurists predicted that the advancement of technology would enable workers to do more with less effort. This would allow people free time to pursue initiatives that would benefit society as a whole, such as raising a family, improve the human condition through continued learning, and contributing to community as a whole. Instead, employers have abused that very technology by not only piling more work on the back of workers, they also broke the traditional model of what a fair day of work was supposed to be. The delineation between professional and private life has been blurred to the point of one being indistinguishable from the other. It first started with the Japanese business model, with the European and North American corporate world following soon after at the start of the 1990s.

As the article mentioned, the end result is less personal time for employees, which in turn translates into high worker absenteeism and reduced productivity. Sounds to me like the opposite of what was suppose to happen, had technology been used properly in the first place.

It doesn’t stop there: because companies are asking a smaller number of employees to do more work in order to keep payroll costs to an absolute minimum, this in turn is causing increased hardship for those not working as well. Since hiring is stagnated and new jobs are not being produced, the unemployed — particularly young people struggling to break the “no work experience” Catch-22 — have to work harder to find a job, or accept jobs different from what they were trained to do and enjoyed doing in the past.

This is the current situation I am facing right now as someone who has been out of work for a long time, despite my best efforts to find work. The irony of having been a long-time part of the computer technology field — which was abused to create this imbalance for both employed and unemployed — is not lost on me.

Thanks for reading!

David

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