With the sun beating down outside it seems a particularly cruel first day back after the summer-less break. If only John Maynard Keynes had been right when he surmised in the 1930s that in the future his grandchildren would only need to work about three hours a day! The idea, which was certainly not unique to Keynes, was that technology would free us up from work so that we could enjoy increased leisure time to dedicate to personal pursuits, pastimes and relaxing in the sun at Oriental Bay.
The recent introduction of legislation in France that gives employees the ‘right to disconnect’ from their work emails outside of office hours could be seen as evidence that technology has not been quite the emancipator envisaged by Keynes and others. If technology has freed us, then why do we need a law to say you don’t have to respond to work emails outside of office hours?
Seen in a different light, one could argue that technology has indeed been a great emancipator because it has freed us up to work remotely and enabled us to work more flexible hours so that we can fit work in around our leisure time.
Whichever way you look at the legislation recently introduced in France, it illustrates the changing nature of work and the blurring of what used to be a rather distinct line between home life and work life. While we may not yet be at a point where we can all work just three hours a day, flexible working arrangements are an opportunity to make work work in a way that best suits you and your family’s needs. Making this a success may well require the introduction of some house rules to protect the precious work-life balance.