By Aileen O’Carroll (auth.)
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Additional resources for Working Time, Knowledge Work and Post-Industrial Society: Unpredictable Work
These individuals act as Stakhanovites,15 binding the image of the high-tech workplace with that of the long-hours worker. It is these isolated individuals who are the object of journalistic articles and popular commentary. For example, at the beginning of this chapter I described the programmer who worked late, alone in his office, and being a nudist, he worked naked. This individual provided both the title to a book on software workers in Silicon Valley and its defining image. Yet the author did not tell the story of the nudist’s co-workers, who had all left the office, leaving our nudist alone.
It’s managing those expectations and reinforcing the expectations and resetting them if things change ... That’s the hardest part of the job. The time taken to listen and persuade was indeed a very nebulous type of time, and yet without taking this time, the content of Karl’s work would fluctuate widely. Here the messiness of working with people created a work-process that was highly unpredictable. Each day was different from the last, as it was a work that depended on the many and varied rhythms of others.
Knowledge acquisition is not something encapsulated, delivered in particular places at specific times, but something that permeates the working day. Mail from technical mailing lists was described by the 42 Working Time, Knowledge Work and Post-Industrial Society workers as ‘filtering in’ and as being in the ‘background’. Knowledge work therefore consists of both the staccato time of interruptions and the absorbed time of learning. Other types of time are associated with other tasks. Working in software means that often much of the working day is spent waiting for others.