Time is money

This is the time of year when time itself starts to feel a little more elastic, and time off is so very precious. Maybe that’s why a new theme has crept into “post-pandemic” conversations lately: the notion of time, and people’s control over their work time and consequently their lives. 

The pandemic put a spotlight on the issue through the “work from home” phenomenon (affecting a minority of workers in Canada); the exhausting juggle to find enough paid and unpaid time to meet our needs for care; and the scramble from one on-demand job to the next, with little clue how much time you have between jobs. Downtime? What’s that?

So perhaps it’s no surprise that talk about the future of work has started including a focus on time.

Here’s a conversation about skills of the future, convened by the Globe and Mail, that swerved into a conversation about timing of skills development (on the job? Before hiring?) 

Here’s a conversation about improving well-being through public policies, convened by McGill University. For labour markets, reduced work time was a main thrust. 

A recent job fair involving six big employers and tons of jobs (mostly weekend, night or irregular shifts) had applicants asking about the pathway and timing of getting to regular daytime shifts.

Gig workers are organizing to have recognized that the time they are waiting for or getting to the next gig  is not free or “off” time; it’s the very requirement for being “on-demand”.  

Time is money. That isn’t true just for the folks in the C-suite.

Control over your time isn’t just a function of the type of job you have, or how disciplined you are with your schedule. Your control is also a function of legislation and regulations. The laws of the land determine if you and your work are even covered by the rules.

Whether expanding or stripping  labour rights from gig workers, or contemplating the right to disconnect rules for workers, the future of work means the laws of work will change.

They are, in fact, changing now. On June 15, Ontario appointed an advisory committee on workforce recovery and the future of work which is accepting public input until July 12 at OWRAC@ontario.ca. This deadline is unreasonable, but the absence of a worker’s perspective on this committee is simply unacceptable.

Whether we’re talking about who gets to work from home, on what terms; who gets to upgrade their skills or have paid sick leave; or how to allocate unpaid and paid time to meet our care needs, we’re talking about the one thing we all share, in equal measure, every day: our time. 

What we don’t share in common is our control over our time. And that control is governed by the rules. 

And those rules are changing. What’s at stake is your control over your time.

Find me on Twitter @ArmineYalnizyan, and on Instagram @futureofworkers.

The Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers is supported by the Atkinson Foundation. Find more information here.