The Payoff of No-Collar Work


ITPL, Bangalore, India

Last summer I was given the opportunity to intern at a start-up called Livspace. The company essentially specialised in custom designed furniture using a web-based platform. My job was to get the word out about this new and innovative idea. For a month and a half I was slowly given control of their social media platforms, for marketing and advertising purposes.

Even considering the company’s web dependency, we were located outside of the ‘Silicon Plateau’, more commonly known as ITPL. ITPL, located in my hometown Bangalore, India is essentially the ‘Silicon Ally’ of India. I believe that the reason Livspace operated outside of ITPL was because it was a small company that was non-traditional in many ways. First and foremost it consisted of less that 100 people, secondly it employed only dedicated, innovative, and creative individuals.

This ‘no collar’, informal attitude was very different from the typical, corporate, top-down companies that are prevalent in India. The company reminded me of the employees that Ross talks about in his book ‘No Collar: The Human Workplace and its Hidden Costs’. The similarities were not only evident in the structure of the company, but also in their employees yearning to be creative, unique, and treated differently from the typical employee. Livspace workers appeared to me to be involved in the ‘industrialisation of Bohemia’ a term coined by Ross. Although their work appeared creative and impactful, its main goal was to create profit. In the same way that corporate worker operates.

Creative workers, working in companies such as Livspace often live by the motto “choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life” (Confucius), but are often exploited because of this connection that they have to their work. It was not uncommon for workers at Livspace to work 9 to 7 shifts or to remain at work overnight in preparation for a launch. I myself put out posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest at 9 am, 2 pm and 9 pm every day, outside of my regular work hours. I justified this by telling myself that I was already on social media so it wasn’t a big deal.

11264882-3D-Business-man-tied-to-a-chair-and-forced-to-work-on-his-laptop-Stock-PhotoBut the reality of the situation was that my time and other creative employees time was up for grabs by the company. This was partially because of the accessibility and mobility of the internet. But more importantly because of the personal stake and pride we had in the work we were doing.

Essentially the line between work and leisure became blurred. The importance that was placed on the creation of a no collar work environment ended up creating a casualness about every aspect of our lives. No longer were work hours black and white. Leisure time was intermittent and no longer a priority in the muddled, overarching grey area of work and play.

Livingston, Jessica. “Andrew Ross’s No-Collar: The Humane Workplace a.” Politics and Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2015.

Ross, Andrew. No-collar: The Humane Workplace and Its Hidden Costs. New York, NY: Basic, 2003. Print.

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