The “New Normal” Privatization of the Workplace

Ivana Isailović–

As the COVID-19 crisis rages on, individuals around the world are now thrown into a work-from-home, digitally-enabled “new normal” of the workplace. For most white-collar workers, homes have become offices, and boundaries between work and domestic life are being reshuffled.

This shift, however, is just an acceleration of prior developments well under way since the beginning of this new millennium. Before the pandemic, workers with some higher education more were already more likely to work from home. In part this shift resulted from demands for better “work-life balance” prompting employers to accommodate workers with caring responsibilities by introducing remote work and flexibility. More importantly, though, digital technology makes it easier for firms to outsource costs and flexibility onto workers, accelerating the rise of the gig-economy globally. Platforms like Upwork, firms can be assembled with labor from around the world, further privatizing and extending the traditional notion of the workplace.

For many, the current situation has made evident the conflicts between work and family responsibilities, something that feminist scholars have repeatedly put forward.

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