Experts say line between professional and personal life `blurring`
Washington – A new study has shown that now-a-days employers disregard the motto of keeping professional and personal lives separate, and like to profit from their employees ‘free’ time and non-professional aptitudes.
Last century, it was very clear where work stopped and play started – managers at offices and factories encouraged a formal environment. Personal lives were left at the door as employees clocked in.
Today, jobs increasingly allow us to work flexible hours, yet we are expected to be responsive around the clock. Dubbed Liberation Management, the latest trend encourages us all to ‘be ourselves’ at work, dropping the formal, professional attitudes of the past.
And workers looking for ideas or opinions free of charge can crowd source them from the Internet.
Businesses are getting something for nothing, experts said.
Examining the dark side to today’s apparent freedom and autonomy for workers, Peter Fleming, from London’s Cass Business School, used a concept known as biopower developed by French social theorist Michel Foucault, an expert in the workings of discipline and control.
The ‘bio’ in ‘biopower’ stands for bios or ‘life itself’. Foucault said that there is actually more control in modern, neo-liberal societies than in old-fashioned hierarchies.
As long as a project deadline is met, firms don’t care when, how and where the work is done – be it in your underwear in the middle of the night or in a cafe on Monday morning, Fleming said.
A key element of biopower is that it operates on and harnesses all elements of our lives, regulating, monitoring and monetizing everything we are and do, and we are seldom aware of it.
This is a ‘lifestyle approach’ to management, where companies hope to get a better performance from employees by encouraging their everyday selves on the job. Life skills, communication and organization skills, and emotional intelligence are now key.
Fleming said that our jobs are no longer defined as something we do among other things, but what we are, ominously, now permanently poised for work.
The study is published in the current issue of the journal Human Relations.