Geezers: more work, less fun ahead

There used to be a rigid structure to the workday.

You started at a certain time and ended at a certain time, and once the sweatshop whistle blew, your time was your own.

Sure, sometimes you thought about the job when you weren't there, but those moments were fleeting, and any dwelling was quickly dispatched with the same admonishment:

"They ain't paying me enough." The standard workday, of course, is rapidly going the way of job security and the gold watch: 9 to 5 is out; 24/7 is in, with the line between when work ends and when having a life begins being blurred beyond recognition.

A sociology professor at New York University has coined a word to identify this new melding of work and play. He calls it "weisure time." Weisure time is not a good time.

Weisure time is fitting fun around work, rather than fitting work around fun. It's kind of like eating lunch at your desk. We used to call people who embraced this sort of behavior workaholics. Now we call them crackberries.

Crackberries may not be in the office from dawn to "Leno," but the office is always in them. These are the folks on the beach with the laptops; the drivers drifting in traffic with phones to their ears; the mothers texting at their daughters' soccer games.

They are also the future.

Most people blame technology for the rise of the amorphous work schedule. I would add working from home, an arrangement that taught us you could mix work with running to the store, catching the kid's softball game and doing laundry. Not that I ever did any of these things, particularly laundry.

Baby boomers need to come to grips with the concept of weisure time if they plan to work beyond retirement.

According to a story on the future of work in the current issue of Time, by 2019, when our offspring, Generation Y, is in charge (God help us), baby boomers will be among the 40 percent of the work force that rents itself out as consultants and independent contractors.

This is seen as a good thing because boomers will need the income, and companies will need the expertise.

They can call the new arrangement "weisure-geezer" time.

Shea is a columnist for The Courant.

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