Not too long ago, employees used to leave their personal lives at the door as they clocked in. Today, the trend dubbed â??Liberation Managementâ??, encourages us to ‘be ourselves’ and drop the formal, professional attitudes of the past. And while workplaces increasingly allow us to work flexible hours, we are expected to be responsive around the clock.

Is this a healthy work-life balance?

Peter Fleming, Professor of Business and Society at Cass Business School, City University in London, weighed up the evidence. In his paper, published in the current issue of the journal Human Relations, Fleming examined the dark side to today’s apparent freedom and autonomy for workers.

He used a concept known as biopower developed by French scholar, historian, and social theorist Michel Foucault, an expert in the workings of discipline and control. Foucault said that there is actually more control in modern, neo-liberal societies than in old-fashioned hierarchies.

“Our jobs are no longer defined as something we do among other things, but what we areâ?¦ Ominously, we are now permanently poised for work.” – Professor Peter Fleming[/su_pullquote]

Monetising every minute of our time

A key element of biopower is that it operates on and harnesses all elements of our lives, regulating, monitoring and monetising everything we are and do – and we are seldom aware of it.

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This ‘lifestyle approach’ to management, largely seen in Western economies, is linked to a decline in jobs focused on concrete or industrial tasks and instead, communication, organisation skills and emotional intelligence are now key.

Working to death

If the onset of flu is coupled with relief that you can finally take a day for yourself, and you feel that your work is your life, blame biocracy!

The widely reported death of banking intern Moritz Erhadt following three days of non-stop work is perhaps an extreme example of what biocracy can do to us: When work and life become blended to such an extent, even rest and sleep are considered a ‘waste of time.â??

“The Birth of Biopolitics lectures are astoundingly prescient in the way they concentrate on the then nascent neoliberal project as a sign of things to come,” says Fleming. “Our jobs are no longer defined as something we do among other things, but what we areâ?¦ Ominously, we are now permanently poised for work.”

In other words, when it comes to flexible workplaces, itâ??s not unusual for firms to cash-in, profiting from our “free” time!

Source: SAGE Publications via ScienceDaily

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