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從加班到零工經濟 無間歇工作的代價

What happens when we work non-stop
從加班到零工經濟 無間歇工作的代價

It makes accidents more likely, boosts stress levels, and even causes physical pain. But the real problem is that many people just can’t afford not to do it.

事故頻發,壓力山大,還引起身體這酸那疼。但真正的問題在于,很多人根本承受不了壓力。

According to latest International Labour Organization statistics, more than 400 million employed people worldwide work 49 or more hours per week, a sizeable proportion of the near 1.8 billion total employed people worldwide.

根據國際勞工組織最新統計,全球有超過4億員工每周工作49小時及以上,在全球近18億就業人口當中,此比例不小。
 

In a recent interview with The New York Times, even entrepreneur Elon Musk felt moved to describe his 47th birthday spent locked in his factory, pulling an all-nighter. “No friends, nothing,” he said. It might have been just another day in another 120-hour work week. “This has really come at the expense of seeing my kids. And seeing friends,” he added.

即使是企業家埃隆•馬斯克( Elon Musk),近日接受《紐約時報》采訪談到自己47歲生日只能在工廠里熬通宵時,也頗為感慨:“沒朋友,什么都沒有。”與平時每周工作120小時的日子沒什么區別。他說:“我徹底犧牲了和孩子們、朋友們見面的時間。”

For some of his fans, this is just the price of being Silicon Valley’s current demi-god, the pioneer simultaneously pursuing the colonisation of Mars and creating an affordable and mass-produced electric car.

對于他的粉絲而言,這就是他成為硅谷當代神話的代價。馬斯克致力于研發價格親民的電動汽車并大規模量產,與此同時他還是推行火星殖民化的先鋒。

But wearing exhaustion like a badge of honour sets a dangerous precedent. Hustling over long hours and weekends has become a staple of start-up culture in Silicon Valley - hence, it has also filtered out to many parts of the world. While writing this piece, a post popped up in my Facebook from a Colombian group for start-ups: ‘Raise your hand if you are working right now on your company, idea, or business!,’ next to a fist emoji. It had 160 likes, even a few hearts. It was commented on by 38 proud entrepreneurs, each posting the URL of their project. It was a Saturday; it was 9:56 p.m.

然而,當疲憊的表情成了一種榮譽勛章,這其實開了一個危險的頭。每天加班、周末加班,已經成了硅谷創業的標配,并且蔓延到世界各地。寫這篇文章的時候,Facebook刷出一張哥倫比亞創客群的帖子:“如果此刻的你為了公司、為了點子、為了生意,正在工作,請舉手!”這個帖子收獲了160個贊,甚至還有很多人點了代表“大愛”的心形圖案。38位驕傲的創業者留言評論,每一位都貼了自己項目的線上地址。當時是周六,晚上9:56。

The problem is that this 'long hours' culture likely defeats the purpose of getting more things done, or at least puts a very hefty price on doing them. There is plenty of evidence that working overtime reduces your productivity, and makes you feel and actually be less healthy. It also make you more likely to develop a whole range of diseases.

問題在于,這種“加班”文化可能無法實現做更多事的初衷?;蛘哒f,需要付出更大的代價才能完成工作。大量證據表明,加班會降低工作效率,讓你感覺很不健康(事實也是如此),還更容易患上各種疾病。

Still, millions of workers seem unable to take a stand against it, from medics to ‘gig economy’ workers and freelancers. What happens then? And, what can we – those who can’t help working on Saturday nights – do about it?

然而,從醫務人員到“零工經濟”員工再到自由職業者,上百萬員工卻無法站出來表示反對。為什么會這樣?對于我們這些周六晚上不得不加班的人,能做什么呢?

This is going to hurt

帶來的損傷


It seems self-evident: an overworked person is tired; hence more likely to have an accident at work. But proving this is surprisingly difficult. It might be that riskier jobs also have more demanding hours, or simply that people who work more hours spend more time at risk, even if they don’t do overtime. But a study that analysed 13 years of job records in the US found that “working in jobs with overtime schedules was associated with a 61% higher injury hazard rate compared to jobs without overtime”.

工作過勞的人很累,因此更容易發生事故不言而喻。但證明這一點卻很困難。也許因為危險的工作需要花更多的時間,或者單純是工作時間長的人暴露在風險中的時間也長,就算不加班也這樣。不過一項調查分析了美國13年來的職業記錄,發現“與不用加班的工作相比,需要加班的員工受傷害率高了61%。”

This specific study stops short of saying that fatigue is the primary cause of this increased risk, but there is ample evidence to suggest this might be the case.

這項具體研究并未明說疲勞是風險提升的主要原因,但有充分的證據表明可能就是這么一回事。

For instance, if you woke at 8 a.m. and were still awake at 1 a.m. the next day (that is, if you had been up for 17 hours straight), your physical performance would likely be worse than if you had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%. This the level that an average 73 kg male would get if he had drunk two 355ml cans of beer. That’s right, you’re drunk on overtime.

比如,如果你早上8點醒來,到凌晨1點都還沒睡(也就是說你已經17個小時未睡覺),那你的身體表現,可能比73公斤的男人喝了2聽355毫升的啤酒(血液中含0.05%的酒精濃度)要糟糕得多。沒錯,加班時的你就像醉了一樣。

If you remained awake until 5 a.m., the impairment would be similar to having 0.1% of blood alcohol – more than the 0.08% that is considered the legal driving limit in most countries of the world.

如果你到凌晨5點還沒有睡,那給身體帶來的傷害和0.1%的血液酒精濃度差不多。而世界上絕大多數國家,血液酒精濃度超過0.08%,就是酒駕了。

So, an all-nighter will make your physical performance (things like your reaction time or coordination) as impaired as if you were too drunk to drive. And if you can’t drive, will you be able to work safely and competently? Maybe typing on a computer is not very risky, but this is something definitely worth considering when doing manual or physical labour, or if your work demands attention to detail.

所以,熬夜會讓你的身體表現(比如反應速度或協調性)受到損傷,就像酒駕一樣。你都醉得開不了車,還能安全、有效地工作嗎?也許在電腦前打打字并不危險,但如果是手工或者體力勞動,或是需要精神高度集中的工作,就得好好斟酌了。

The algorithmic ‘whip’

算法“鞭策”


Still, a lot of people feel trapped in the cycle – they rely on overworking to make ends meet and pay their bills. They are stuck in a system that incentivises them for clocking up lots of hours, or for working through the night if their clients live in another time zone.

然而,很多人卻擺脫不了這個惡性循環,他們需要加班加點來維持生計。這些人受困于激勵員工超時工作的系統,或因公司客戶在其他時區則不得不在夜間工作。

For example, this is often the case for ‘gig economy’ workers in Southeast Asia and Africa, hired by companies or entrepreneurs in the US, UK or Europe through freelancer platforms to do things like coding, blog post working, website building or social media management.

比如,東南亞和非洲的“零工經濟”員工,就是個典型例子。美國、英國或者歐洲其他國家的公司、商人在自由職業平臺上雇傭這些人寫代碼、編輯博客、建設網站,或是管理社交媒體等等。

Some recent research led by Alex J Wood, from the Oxford Internet Institute, reveals that the algorithms that assign jobs to these workers are a powerful driver to sustained overworking.

近來,牛津互聯網研究所的伍德(Alex J Wood)負責的一些研究表明:為這些勞動者分配工作的算法,直接導致了持續過勞。

Basically, the higher your ranking on these platforms, the more likely you are to be hired. But to get these good reviews, workers have to accommodate everything their client wants, with little room for negotiating better conditions: “They have to be available to communicate whenever they are wanted. If the client has a very short deadline, they have to accept. Otherwise, they will be given a bad rating”, says Wood in an interview.

基本上,你在這些平臺上的排名越靠前,受雇可能性就越高。但若要得到好評,就得包容客戶的一切要求,很難有協商爭取利益的空間。伍德在受訪時表示,“他們隨時候命,只要客戶需要,馬上開工。如果客戶的截止日期很近,他們也只能接受。否則就要收到差評。”

If the worker is not in the top rankings, this pressure only increases. Some try to attract more gigs by charging extremely low prices, forcing them to work very long hours for little money. Furthermore, most invest a significant amount of unpaid labour too, on admin like setting up profiles, bidding for gigs on the platform, and acquiring skills to create a more attractive profile. All this adds up to a very long and exhausting routine.

如果這些人不在排行榜最前面,那壓力就會更大。一些人會用極低的價格來吸引零工活計,迫使他們為了一點點錢而用更長時間工作。此外,很多人還要做大量的無償勞動來經營自我,比如設置個人資料、在平臺上競標、學習新技能讓自己的簡歷更好看等。這些加起來,就讓日常工作變得又長、又令人精疲力盡。

As one interviewee on Wood’s research said, “I’m so broke, this is someone who’s ready to give me the money, so why don’t you want 18 hours in one day?”

正如伍德研究中一位受訪者所說:“我這么窮,有人要給我錢,那為什么一天不花個18小時干活呢?”

These patterns seem to replicate in many areas of the gig economy. There have been reports in the US that some drivers working for ride-hailing firms are driving up to 20-hour shifts to take advantage of fare spikes. And in the UK, Uber limited its drivers to 10 hours of continuous use of the app, after a parliamentary probe.

零工經濟的很多領域似乎都出現了這種過勞模式。美國有報道稱:一些網約車公司的司機為了充分利用車費上漲的機會,每天駕駛時間達到20小時。在英國,在議會調查后,優步(Uber)將司機持續使用網約車服務的時間限制為10小時。

According to Wood, “the most obvious impact is sleep deprivation,” which reinforces the vicious cycle of little rest and long hours. “People would be more productive if they didn’t have these long hours. But the way the businesses are set up means that people cannot maximise that productivity because they have to be working late at night to meet a deadline.” Freelance platforms have been under fire for glorifying such unhealthy lifestyles, with good reason.

根據伍德的說法,“最明顯的影響是對睡眠的剝奪”,這加劇了休息越來越少、工作越來越久的惡性循環。“如果不用一直加班,工作效率會更高。但零工經濟的建立導致人們沒法盡可能提高效率,因為他們不得不熬夜趕截止時間。”自由職業平臺因為推崇這種不健康的生活方式,而廣受詬病。

His study does not show how many of these ‘gig’ workers actually work for very long hours, and he clarifies that things are usually a lot better for freelancers in Europe, the UK and the US, who have more specialised skills and a lot more bargaining power. Still, in the Global South, there are signs that this cycle of overwork is becoming ingrained. More than half of the workers interviewed by Wood and his team said that they had to work at very high speed, 60% worked to tight deadlines, and 22% experienced physical pain as a result of their work.

伍德的研究并沒有表明實際上有多少打零工者要長時間工作。他還澄清說,在歐洲、英國和美國,自由職業者專業技能多,議價能力強,情況就樂觀得多。而在南半球,有跡象表明這種過勞惡性循環正在愈演愈烈、愈來愈根深蒂固。伍德團隊采訪的勞動者中,超過一半的人表示他們必須高速工作,60%的人說期限很緊,22%的人曾因工作而身感疼痛。

Always ‘on call’

永遠“隨叫隨到”


The era when work ended as people left the office is long gone. Checking and answering messages from work seems unavoidable – and even desirable for some people, as they feel it allows them to outperform competitors, or to spend more time with family without losing track of their jobs. As put by a 2006 academic paper from Ian Towers, a researcher from SRH Hochschule in Berlin, mobile technology “increases expectations: managers and colleagues alike expect staff to be almost always available to do work”.

一離開辦公室就算今日工作結束的時代,早已一去不復返。下班后檢查和回答工作信息似乎避無可避,有的人甚至對此趨之若鶩,因為他們覺得這樣能超過競爭對手,或者能花更多時間能關注著工作、又能同時和家人在一起。來自柏林SRH應用技術大學(SRH Hochschule)的研究員塔瓦斯(Ian Towers)在其2006年的學術論文中提出,移動技術“提升了人們的期望:管理人員和同事都希望員工隨時都能工作”。

But being ‘on call’ is not the same as being off work, and the way our body reacts to both situations is very different. A 2016 study found that the cortisol levels (the hormone that regulates the ‘fight or flight’ reaction and plays a role in raising stress levels) of people ‘on call’ rise faster in the mornings than those of people who are not required to be available, even if they don’t end up working that day.

然而“隨叫隨到”與準時上下班是兩碼事,我們的身體對這兩種情況的反應截然不同。2016年一項研究發現:早晨隨叫隨到者的皮質醇(又譯為可體松,人體應付壓力的激素,因此也稱為壓力荷爾蒙)水平比不需隨叫隨到的員工升得要快,即使他們可能一直到晚上都沒工作可做。

This hormone usually has its peak concentration when we wake up, and it decreases on the rest of the day. But scientists believe everyday stress factors tamper with its cycle in several ways: it rises faster when you expect a stressful day (researchers believe this may be the case here), its levels remain high if you are chronically stressed, and it does not rise if you are going through a ‘burnout syndrome’ – something usually preceded by a chronic stress period.

這種壓力荷爾蒙一般在人們剛睡醒時達到峰值,然后慢慢減少。但科學家認為,日常壓力會以各種方式讓周期紊亂:比如你預計今天會很緊張,那激素就會上升(研究人員覺得打零工就是這樣),如果你長期壓力都很大,這個激素就會一直偏高;如果在長期壓力后你開始經歷“倦怠綜合癥”,那這個激素就升不上去了。

As a result, people also find it more difficult “mentally detaching work from non-work” when they are ‘on call’, as well as choosing to do the activities that they really want – a trait researchers call ‘control’. In other words: workers don’t feel like the time they are ‘on call’ is really their own, and their stress levels rise accordingly. Hence, researchers conclude that days where availability is demanded “cannot be considered leisure time, because recovery – a crucial function of leisure time – is restricted under such circumstances”.

結果是,“隨叫隨到”的人發現越來越難“從心理上區分工作和非工作”,很難做自己真正想做的事——研究人員稱之為“控制能力”。換句話說,員工并不覺得“隨叫隨到”的時間真的是自己的,他們的壓力也會相應上升。因此,研究人員得出結論,要求隨叫隨到的日子“不能視作閑暇時間,因為休閑的重要功能——休養生息,在這種情況下十分有限。”

What to do?

該怎么辦?


Working for days at a time is not smart, even if you are Elon Musk. The news of his unhealthy work routine has not been well received by investors, and Tesla’s stock fell 8.8% shortly after the NYT interview, amid suspicions of Musk’s poor mental health. Take it as a sobering tale: if you can avoid working for days at a time, just do it, as it has no positive effects on your health, your well-being, or your productivity. Even if you think you are an exception, most likely you are not.

即使你是馬斯克,一口氣工作好幾天也并不明智。他不健康的工作習慣是投資者們并不樂見的新聞。馬斯克接受《紐約時報》采訪后,因為懷疑馬斯克心理狀態不佳,特斯拉的股價迅速下跌了8.8%。請將這一新聞作為一個警示:如果你能避免一口氣工作好幾天,就盡量別這么干。因為這對你的健康、幸福和生產力,并沒有什么好處。即使你覺得自己是個例外,實際上哪來這么多僥幸?

The big problem is for the most vulnerable freelancers, who don’t seem to have a chance to stop the cycle of overworking and diminishing productivity. The underlying problem, as Wood says, is that “clients are able to damage future earnings for workers”, while freelancers have little bargaining power.

對于絕大多數弱勢的自由職業者,關鍵問題在于,他們大概沒機會結束長時工作導致效率減弱的惡性循環。正如伍德所言,潛在問題是“客戶能影響打零工者未來的收入”,而這些人卻沒有討價還價的本錢。

It is unlikely that these platforms move to change this, especially when this business model allows them to move billions of dollars each year. Meanwhile, if you happen to hire a freelancer online, it might be better to give your ‘hired hand’ some extra time: they might not only do a better work, but their life could be a lot better as a result.

這些雇傭平臺很難改變這一點,畢竟這種商業模式每年能帶來數十億美元的收益。那么如果你碰巧在網上雇傭一名自由職業者,最好多給對方一些時間:這樣的話,他們不僅能把工作做得更好,還會有一個更好的生活。
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