Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Open for Business – What About Me Time?

No question about it, we live in an always on world. Thanks to the Internet, laptops, wireless networks, smart phones – even smart dashboards in our cars – the world is available to us – always.

That means in order to compete in today’s wired world, businesses have to be open all the time too – despite all the technology, someone has to be around to make sure things run smoothly.

Is this a good thing?

That’s one of the questions politicians in Canada’s biggest city are debating today – sort of.

The City of Toronto – as many municipalities – has rules governing who can be open on statutory holidays (like Christmas) and who can’t.

Currently, only retail stores and restaurants in designated tourist areas are allowed that privilege, but today city councilors are voting on whether or not to strike down this law, allowing any retail establishment to be open 365 days a year.

Working in retail isn’t the most glamorous life, often fraught with the lowest of wages, schedules which change on a weekly basis, few (if any) benefits, and constant pressure from bosses to sell – even when no one comes into the shop.

Retail workers are often seen as entry-level, low paying gigs easily filled by the masses who don’t have any experience and need a job. So retailers often treat their employees poorly, because they expect high turnover.

Not that all retailers are bad to work for, but just type any big box retailer into any search engine, and your computer screen will fill with horror stories from badly treated employees.

For most in the retail sector, they work for minimum wage, part-time, without any benefits or vacation time. That puts them into a terrible catch-twenty-two come holiday time – they often want to work the holiday, because they need the hours for their pay cheque to pay the bills, but at the same time, they could really use a break, and much needed time with friends and family.

So our constant need to do business thanks to our technologically-driven world, is creating a burned out lower class.

Is this a good thing? Do we really need to be able to go shopping anytime, all the time?

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