Yesterday, Silicon Valley Analyst Jeremiah Owyang vaguely reported that executives are scared of their employees “working part-time (but paid full salary)” and “even working on side hustle startups, while on a full-time salary,” a truly terrifying prospect that has chilled me to the bone.
This may seem like just one fellow who has stepped on a giant rake, but Jeremiah has unfortunately burrowed into a core issue that’s going to come up as a result of the remote work being fairly mandatory during the pandemic. There is now a fight for the very soul of hiring - the very reason that we hire people, and what our expectations are versus what we’ve told them they are.
Let’s break apart this anxiety - executives have hired people full-time, and in this case I assume that the work that they’re required to do is done in part-time hours. These people are either “working part-time hours” or “doing side hustle startups,” and bosses want them back in the office, ostensibly to put an end to this practice. As I hinted at in Monday’s Substack, “remote work inherently messes with the power dynamic of the worker and the boss, and it is going to make many, many brains malfunction.” The reason isn’t just about control, but the very fabric of how employment or contract work is designed, and the way in which we have been conditioned to view labor.
The issue at its core is that bosses hiring people “full-time” often do so, as dramatic as it sounds, to capture their soul. Within the hours of 9 to 5 (but let’s be real, it’s more than that), they expect to own the time, attention and energy of that person. The nebulous badge of “full-time” brings with it a level of ownership of the person - they cannot go elsewhere, what they create is yours, on some level they are yours, because you have deigned them worthy of a salary and benefits and whatever other crumbs you pass their way. In return, you expect them to dedicate their existence to you - on levels of dramatic ranging from “I need to see you in the office” to “I want to make sure I can text you at 10PM and badger you about some shit that bothers me.”