There was a time when people lived by rules and they were obeyed even in taverns. And today… there are no rules and everything is mixed up. First of all, the taverns were gradually replaced by cafes. But, well, I’m the man who keeps up with trends and I understand that each time has its own distinctive marks. A tavern or a cafe, no matter how you call it, was a place where you come alone, or even better with your crew, sit comfortably, order coffee or some other drink, both at best, and then, if you are alone, you read newspapers, and if you’re with your crew, you talk and gossip with them about all the relevant issues – politics, sports, neighbour across the street, about your boss who is an idiot and is constantly harassing you, then you give a few suggestions on how to save peace in the world and how to stop these climate changes… I’m telling you – there were rules.
And today, when you come to a cafe, order a coffee and drink, you look around, and see that more than half of the guests are just sitting at the table staring at the blank in front of themselves. And no, it is not because the last night’s hangover, they just stare blankly at laptop screens, typing on the keyboard. Most of them have headphones on their heads. Wait a minute folks, take it easy… if you have to work, everything is OK, but that’s what offices are for, to sit there and work. And then when you’re done, you come to a café, relax completely and have something to drink.
Well, those days are gone. Before the information technology came into our lives, the work and workplace were firmly connected and so to say inseparable. Only few could work “from home” and this was considered a special privilege, because they could afford it, as it was then considered, only for special people, and more or less for those who were considered artists. Everybody else had to get up every morning and go to work. Somebody went to the factory hall, someone to the office; but to work, you had to get to work first. And when you come home from work, you forget about work until the next morning when the alarm clock rings. “A real Rat race.”
This was because people had to be physically close to each other so that a certain work process could be carried out. First and foremost, the means of work and information had to be available to all participants in the process, and they were available in a precisely defined physical location where they then organized workplaces through which each employee had access to relevant information and tools for work. It was the only possible way.
Today, thanks to the technology we constantly carry with us, we have access to an increasing number of information and all the resources necessary for work, regardless of the physical location we are in. That’s why this technological revolution is called IT, because it has changed the way from which we access information and the way we use it. The information and resources for work are still in one place, but this place is no longer a standard physical location but “the cloud” and we access them from anywhere.
And what is the first reaction to this opportunity? Well, it’s awesome, amazing, now I’m free to work from wherever I want when I want to and I’m no longer tied to the office and I do not have to go to work. I am free!!!
Is it really like that? It’s true, you do not have to get up at the dawn and to be under stress to get to work on time. But why would your employer care about when you do what you have agreed to do, as long as you meet the set deadline? If you don’t do it on time, someone else will get that opportunity, and then you will have to think about your next step. You’re sick, so you will not be able to finish your work on time? Sorry, that’s your problem. You think you’re underpaid for what you’re doing? Probably, but you know that there are at least three of them who are ready to get into your shoes immediately and what’s more for the half of the price. So what if they are on the other side of the planet and in another time zone. Nobody cares.
One of the most popular words in the last couple of years is “frilenser”, in translation: the freelancer. More and more people proudly present themselves as freelancers. Yes, they are free to work when they want and where they want, but they have to work anyway just as their colleagues from the past who were tied to a machine, counter window or desk did. Moreover, they now have to work faster-stronger-better because the labour market has changed in the meantime and it is no longer limited to the local community in which we live or the country of our citizenship. Today, the labour market is the whole world, and we know, as the market grows, offers grow, so labour costs are lower.
And those who hire others to work have also become freelancers – they can hire whoever they want, and in addition to this, apart from the money they pay, they have no other obligations. Tomorrow they can hire someone else for the same job who they can “buy” cheaper.
Freelancing is a tempting model of work because it gives the sense of freedom, opening many new and endless opportunities for earning and living. The number of freelancers is rising on a global level, with the tendency to grow even more. However, it is good to be aware of the other side of the coin.
I know for sure that the solution is not in demonstrations, protests and strikes, those times have passed. It doesn’t mean that it’s time for us to give up our fight for freedom. That time will never pass.
See you at the cafe in the neighbourhood. And do not forget the headphones.