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Alone at work: Isolation, competition and co-dependency in flexibilised retail

Journal article
Authors Rebecka Arman
Nanna Gillberg
Maria Norbäck
Published in Economic and Industrial Democracy
ISSN 0143-831X
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Business Administration
Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Language en
Keywords Collective voice, flexible scheduling, isolation, retail, work time, job quality, professional isolation, employment relations, precarious, work, labor-market, part-time, schedules, family, satisfaction, turnover, Business & Economics
Subject categories Economics and Business


Previous studies of flexibilisation through employer-controlled flexible scheduling and off-site isolated work have shown how such practices have detrimental effects on workers' wellbeing. This qualitative study, set in Swedish retail, adds to previous findings by showing how flexible scheduling practices that include irregular variation of work hours and headcount have consequences also for worker interaction in the workplace. Even on-site work can be experienced as isolating if workers are 'spread too thin' in efforts to reduce labour costs. Set in two different retail settings, the study demonstrates and discusses how inter-employee competition and co-dependency are created, respectively. The authors also discuss how the flexibilisation described in this study reduced possibilities for face-to-face meetings and communication between co-workers, between workers and managers, and between workers and union representatives. Finally, it is discussed how the kind of flexibilisation described in this study coincides with defeatism and barriers to collective voice as well as action.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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