“Industrial work is set to the rhythm of the machine, while knowledge work is set to the flow of information” (Mitew 2012).
In this day and age, the accessibility of the Internet enables us to be connected 24/7 via electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. We can interact with each other online, send texts to our friends and so much more. This technological innovation has led to a new form of labor: liquid labor.
This new form promotes work flexibility as employees, particularly white-collar workers, are not constrained by time and space, as examined by Melissa Gregg. The liquid labor creates a mobile workforce – a group of workers scattering across physical locations and being connected by electronic devices and the Internet.
While this liquid labor is considered to be beneficial as it allows employees to freely manage their time, able to work from anywhere and not confined inside a 4-walled office space, it actually comes at a cost.
These types of workers have started to bring their work home, expecting to have more convenience and freedom while what they actually do is getting ‘trapped’ with their work 24/7. With the fact that mobile email is booming, “many workplaces used email as a real-time indicator to signal presence and professionalism” and employees thought that if they did not respond instantly to email, it might be perceived that they were slacking off somehow (Gregg (2009, p. 13). This led to the feeling of guilt and pressure at their work. Besides, social media and instant texts even make the line between work and personal life more blurry.
It really is a paradox, that the convenience we think technology has offered us is making us feel as if we were constantly at work. The impact of technology on work-life balance is significant. Hence, separating our work and our life is more important than we imagined. Technology has changed the way we work but it still is up to the person to prioritize between work and life and also to understand their working style to cope up with the paradigm shift. At the end of the day, keep in mind that we do not live to work, we work to live!
Gregg, M 2009, Function creep: communication technologies and anticipatory labour in the information workplace, p.13.
Mitew, T 2017, Liquid labour, Prezi slide, BCM206: Global Networks, 21 July, University of Wollongong, viewed 15 August 2017, <https://prezi.com/jzxu5yetufdf/liquid-labour/>