Over the past 50 years, Americans have increased their productivity and are working longer hours than their European counterparts. Yet we're seeing few of the gains you'd expect of a modern society. American wages are stagnant, and things like paid vacation time or even paid maternity leave are luxuries afforded to few people.
Technology was supposed to free us from drudgery, and provide us with more leisure time. That was the great promise of the 1950s and 60s. It was a given. Instead, the American worker is tethered to her phone, the expectation being that workers are always on-call, no matter how minor the issue.
From the June 23, 2014 New Republic:
Workers with a smartphone spend 72 hours a week on their off time checking work e-mail. It's become a nonstop world, especially for professional workers. But all employers are offering fewer vacation days and sick days than they used to. And those who are lucky enough to get paid vacation days aren't using them.
The 30-hour work week was the promise of the future. So what happened? The United States is the only advanced nation without guaranteed paid vacation, and it's starting to feel less and less like the majority of Americans are living in the future we were promised. I explore a little bit of that below.
What's increasingly clear is that technology didn't free us from the office; it just turned wherever we happen to be into one.