Clarity on the blurring linesPosted: August 23, 2013
We live in a world where information is power. And in direct response to this, knowledge has also become the biggest industry to work in now, with knowledge-based services growing 177 per cent between 1995 and 2005 (Bradwell & Reeves, 2008).
And in these ‘knowledge-based’ industries, we find a new labour force being created that is reliant on and immersed in a world of information, using social media in order to access and distribute this information. And because this information is easy to access and, more importantly, can be accessed from anywhere at any time, it brings up one really big question: the question over whether offices are really necessary when people can easily work from home!
Rather than travelling in to big grey buildings in big grey cities to sit next to Big Grey Sue, you could instead stay at home on your laptop, sitting in your lounge room next to your Siamese cat, sipping tea. It’s effective and convenient.
Back in that thing we like to call ‘the past’, the home and work were very separated places. The home was a private sphere, disconnected completely from the work of the day. BUT NOW with mobile technologies connected to an endless supply of information in a cyberspace network, work can be in the home. Which, for us, is a normal concept, but for those in that thing called ‘the past’, they would have been blown away by this work/home blurring-of-the-lines atrocity!
Even as a student, I find myself immersed in this work/home blur. While I don’t have some office job and I’m not checking my emails for documents sent from the boss, I am still very much connecting regularly to online sites with content for my university degree. In fact, all of my university work is accessible online and, much like what I have said to my father when the WiFi is down, ‘I CAN’T DO MY DEGREE WITHOUT THE INTERNET!’
Is this blurring-of-the-lines really that amazing and wonderful though?
Well, we have access to endless amounts of information from anywhere at any time! How could you find this inconvenient, Sean?! You yell, How could you question it’s amazingness and wonderfulness?!
In the summer I did an Open University subject. Which was great because I wanted to complete a subject that could count to my degree. The university was in Queensland, so I accessed all my classes, tutorials, lectures and assignments online and completed it through the internet. Fine. Great. Convenient.
But did I make any friends, like I have with my attendance at the University of Wollongong? Did it have that personal feel of being able to be taught face-to-face by a tutor? Well, no. It was very alienating indeed. For actual university, there are a certain number of hours I must show my face, and the brilliance of this is not just that I get to make friends and socialise, but I get to access information in a different way than just downloading it onto my laptop.
If you did work from home, where are you going to meet people who work with you? How will you give your job a human feel to it if you’re constantly sitting in your own house with your Siamese cat not socially interacting with anyone around you? What if Big Grey Sue had turned out to be the love of your life but you never had the chance to find out because you never went into that big grey building in that big grey city?!
While this ‘presence bleed’, this blurring of the lines between work and home may make things more convenient because you can access information from anywhere, I still like to think that a separation from home and work still can exist, that not every second of every day must everyone be constantly connected to the media in such a way that the line becomes so blurry that everything goes out of focus and you trip over.
Bradwell, P & Reeves, R 2008 ‘Economies’, Networked Citizens, pp.25-31.
Gregg, M 2008, ‘Function Creep: Communication technologies and anticipatory labour in the information workplace’, New Media & Society.