The flexible work week

The main priority for the coming decades will be the alignment between social cohesion, flexible work and the attractiveness of territories

Digital culture and the collective intelligence of networks not only call for more critical thinking, they also lead us towards new codes of communication and language.

Interaction between communities online and communities offline It is an inexhaustible source of teaching and learning, which is why we also talk about cognitive communities that constantly improve their models of collective intelligence.

Finally, it is good to insist on the preventive and therapeutic side of these communities, as we cannot forget the toxic side of digital networks and the risk of alienation they entail.

In this transition phase, it is important to be aware of the perversions that new business models can imply and to be aware, therefore, of the unintentional effects and collateral damage that are inherent to them.

This is the environment in which the debate on the flexible working week and teleworking comes together, but also the emerging phenomenon of the so-called great resignation and the new dimensions of the labor market that are associated with it.

Post-industrial capitalism understood this radical mutation very early and transformed itself into two faces. On the one hand, a technological capitalism made of simulated and virtual environments and, on the other, a creative and cultural capitalism where emotional intelligence, shared feelings and creative contributions to collective work prevail.

In a way, it is a return to an ethic of community work and a collaborative intelligence between peers, if we want, the return of the government of the commons, so well described by Elinor Ostrom (1990).

Imagine, for example, the collaborative potential and collective intelligence that inhabit business networks, research and development networks, social innovation networks and environmentally friendly networks, artistic and cultural networks, among many others.

Now, in this return to a philosophy of common goods, to the self-government of rules and the social utility of respect, the consideration of the flexible working week is a breath of fresh air for the correction of inequalities and social progress, in the sense of co-production, co-management and shared consumption of goods and services in the so-called collaborative economy.

It is in this context that the so-called Great Renunciation is inserted, a more differentiated and selective attitude and philosophy of life in relation to the world of work and the professions market, but also in relation to socio-political participation on the part of those who today are mainly involved in digital society.

I am talking, in particular, about creative talents in the areas of science and technology, arts and culture, their topoligamy and ubiquity with regard to their socio-professional and socio-family options and lifestyle.

But I do not reduce them to digital nomads, as the network society can provide a combination of pluriactivity and pluri-income to all those who have various skills and qualifications.

In fact, there are today many factors that condition the choices of the most qualified young people and most creative entrepreneurs, which can justify a great deal of professional, family, social and political renunciation, among which the following can be highlighted: low wages, work overload and inflexible working hours, low career progression and professional expectations, low recognition from managers and leaders and low autonomy in terms of personal decision-making, few opportunities for professional training and qualification for more ambitious projects, the lack of benefits and incentives adjusted to professional performance and productivity, as well as the offer of goods and services to employees beyond the specific purpose of the company.

In addition, obviously, to the countless academic and professional incentives that are provided by freedom of movement within the European Union and the Anglo-Saxon universe.

In fact, the flexible working week and everything that revolves around decentralized and distributed networks and practices combine well with the philosophy of the commons and options such as pluriactivity, for example, volunteering in time banks, working independent service provision, part-time dependent work and other occupations and participation in the artistic and cultural areas.

Unfortunately, we are still far from a well-articulated economy between public goods, private goods and common goods that could provide us with a very wide range of possibilities for socio-professional, socio-family and socio-cultural composition.

In this line of thought, territorial cohesion and social inclusion suffer from some external effects that we could call blind spots. This issue of blind spots will, moreover, be one of the strongest themes in the public debate in the coming years, especially with regard to the nature of the cohabitation between public goods (state), private goods (market) and common goods (community).

It is in this virtuous cohabitation that the creative economy can germinate a new innovative social metabolism where heritage and landscape, science and technology, art and culture, but also social solidarity and the fight against inequalities come into play as inputs. , public health and active aging.

It is time to deindustrialize mercy, poverty, public health and old age and to promote the economy of social innovation and employment in the name of the dignity of the human person and the ethics of the commons.

Final grade

Having arrived here, we must not confuse two analytical plans. On the one hand, there is undeniable progress and very diverse collective intelligence in modified and simulated business environments, in common spaces for artistic creation and social innovation, as a result of the organization of online communities and collaborative platforms.

They all develop very diverse applications and functionalities that are important to delve into and monitor. On the other hand, it is necessary to recognize that this progress has not yet translated into structural improvements of a collaborative nature in political society in general.

Firstly, promoting digital literacy and protecting independent work and intermittent employment.

Then, there are hostile demonstrations in public space, especially in the world of social networks, which can bring with them the tribalization of behavior on the network.

Finally, the deficit of collaborative and supportive culture needs to be quickly filled, as it is crucial to founding a solid social movement if we want to consolidate an ethics of the common good to support a popular capitalism of small platforms that goes beyond mere digital business.

In summary, the main priority for the coming decades will be the alignment between social cohesion, flexible work and the attractiveness of territories.

Under discussion will be common goods, the fight against social inequalities and the sustainability of economic progress.

If there is no equity in this fight and respect for the cause of human dignity, the Great Renunciation, under multiple pretexts and forms (emigration), could hang over the future of democracy and the social cohesion of our societies.


Author António Covas is a Retired Full Professor at the University of Algarve



Read some more!
A strong region needs a strong press and, these days, the press depends on its readers. We make all Sul Infomação content available free of charge, because we believe that it is not through barriers that the public approaches responsible and quality journalism. Therefore, your contribution is essential.  
Contribute here!