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Algorithmic Bosses and Awesome Weekends

A weekly post in which I share (some of) the most thought-provoking content I read this week(ish), which I am too lazy to write full blog posts about.

Work/Life

How Can You Make Your Weekends More Awesome? – Ladders, Eric Barker

How was your weekend? Was it awesome? Apparently, for many of us the answer is no. You could read one of the many articles on the 8/10/12/842 Things That Exceptionally Successful/Productive/Rich/Hairless/Famous people do on their weekends (spoiler alert: none of them seem to stare vacantly at a tv, and there is a depressing scarcity of bacon involved). This article attempts to bring research to the rescue, and admittedly has some good (albeit unsurprising) ideas (no, none include bacon, but I’m an adult and don’t need anyone’s permission).

Anyway, back to my takeaway from this article:

“If you are dependent on your weekends to bring you happiness, you may want to look for another job. Studies show that people with good careers don’t experience as much of a boost on the weekends — because they don’t need to:

Weekends make much less difference for people who work in open and trusting environments. They simply exchange one set of friends for another on weekends.”

Simply getting another job is undoubtedly not an easy suggestion for most of us, but this offers a thought worth dwelling on. Even if you neither need nor want to be BFs with your co-workers, living for the weekend only to spend Sunday in doom-laden, clock-watching countdown penance is not really living.

The “TGIF, I hate Mondays, is it Friday yet?” world of work so many of us find ourselves in feels like it’s the natural order of things…but maybe we’ve simply been lulled into dull acceptance, pacified with weekly scraps of autonomy and peace.  Perhaps we’re arrived at a kind of learned helplessness characterized by asking the wrong question all together. Instead of How Can You Make Your Weekends More Awesome? maybe we should be wondering why we so desperately need to cram those fleeting days full of the life we’re otherwise holding our breath for.

Gig Economy

When Your Boss is an Algorithm – Financial Times

This is an outstanding long read on the gig economy focused on the experience of gig workers for Uber and various food delivery services. It offers a rich snapshot of the precariousness many of them have to navigate, and looks at the legal no mans land that these types of employment arrangement fall into.

” the gig economy poses a profound challenge to the way the law defines jobs. Many gig workers simply do not fit neatly under an employee or a self-employed label. “Is it going to lead to a redefinition of the employment/self-employment divide with a broader test for employment? That is the question to pose.”

As I noted in my recent post on this issue, regulation lags behind the fast-moving developments in platform labour. While some see gig platforms as offering a means to make work more widely accessible, there are clear opportunities for less ethical employers and platform users to exploit workers:

“Policymakers, meanwhile, are flummoxed. Robert Rubin, former US Treasury secretary, summed up their dilemma at a recent Hamilton Project think-tank discussion on the gig economy. The question is how to protect workers while at the same time garnering and reaping the benefits of change and innovation.”

This issue continues to interest me, as it sits at the intersection of technology, globalization, regulation, and the opportunities that virtual work and the internet hold. It seems an excellent example of a situation upon which we each imprint our own hopes and fears for the future. Are we headed for dystopia, or utopia?

“Yet for critics such as Guy Standing, one man’s flexibility is another man’s insecurity. The gig economy is fuelling a “precariat” class of workers denied the protections of traditional jobs he says. Algorithms provide “fantastic opportunities for rapacious exploitation” of people who are already at the bottom of the labour market”

Any tips on making your week awesome? Dystopian visions of the future? Who watched the Oscars? Comment at me!

Image credit: Vadim Sherbakov via unsplash.com

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