NY Times: Housecleaning — Provided by the Boss? In Silicon Valley, Perks Come Home.
Completely disagree with this quote, a sentiment I see bandied around a lot by “new digital economy” types.
There is nothing glorious in answering emails at 5am, or 11pm, and working weekends - essentially in having no times or spaces in your life that work can’t occupy. It is in fact psychologically oppressive, exploitative and unhealthy for both the individual and through the wider social norms it sets up.
But that’s what the detractors of “work life balance” seem to advocate. Being able to take 15 minutes on a weekday lunchtime to go on Amazon and buy your mum a birthday present… That is not mitigation.
Americans in particular tend to buy into the ideology that working 80 hour weeks and having only 10 days holiday makes them übermenschen. No.
What can be positive: being able to design your schedule of working hours around the specifics of your life and needs.
But “balance” should never, ever be a dirty word. The alternative is always the dominance of “work” over “life” - “living to work”, a very limited personhood and existence indeed.
The point to remember: however comfortable the trappings, if you’re selling your time and labour power to make a wage then you are of the proletariat; working class. You try and get the best rate for your body, knowledge and efforts - but the profit from your work is accrued by someone else. If you work away your weekends or a space for a personal life - the benefit from that isn’t yours.
Which is to say that work-life balance looks different for the entrepreneur or business owner.
And to acknowledge we live in lean times for labour, and people are scared for their jobs and don’t feel they can say no.
ETA regarding the house-cleaner “perk” specifically:
1. Let’s look at the deal in economic terms. £30 for a cleaner vs. how many more hours expected in the office? Compare this against your hourly rate and you’re probably being had
2. There is a dignity in cleaning your own toilet. An equality. Keeps you humble, keeps you connected to the fact all we really are is an eating, excreting bag of cells. Sure, it’s not fun (though actually it’s really not bad either.) But there’s an importance in doing these basic things that are part of the maintenance and production of the economically labouring body.
There is something wrong about outsourcing everything else so you can be solely the latter.