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#11: The Good Times
I talk to an incredible number of people every month who earn comfortable salaries to do, by their own admission, almost no productive work at all.
By that, I don’t just mean that they’ve judged their corporation to be a net drain on society, or their team to be basically useless to the company (though that’s generally true). I don’t mean that they’re producing something meaningless, or valueless — I mean they’re literally producing almost nothing, not even TPS reports.
In a way it’s comforting to learn; I thought that I had been cast into career purgatory, that everyone around me was doing real work, while I played on my phone and tried not to fall asleep at my desk. Maybe I had been, but it seems like everyone I talk to these days is in the same boat — and while we all resented the COVID lockdowns, it was hard not to view them as liberatory by comparison.
In 2020, I built a treehouse, planted a garden, got my food storage squared away, blew the dust off my guitar, got a sick pump every morning and tweeted approximately five hundred times a day. I set an alarm to remind me to move my mouse during work hours so that my Skype indicator wouldn’t turn yellow. I checked in with my boss once every three days. It was a very good year.
For most of you, as far as anybody can tell, there’s no end in sight.
We’re pretty much back at full employment, the Federal Reserve has eternally banished recessions, companies are hungry for workers at every level — especially, it seems, for goof-off remote jobs. Inflation is pretty crazy, but you’ve got a mortgage and enough student debt that it might not be such a bad thing. The threat of GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR gave markets a little spook that lasted for less than 24 hours (hope you bought the dip).
The only reason to believe the good times won’t last is the nagging sense that they can’t. Sooner or later, there’s going to be a correction, and employers will catch the leverage they need to claw back most of the value gains from the remote work revolution. The remote email-job will still exist — the cubicle farm benefited no one — but you’ll work a lot more, for a lot less. There’s already a growing market for cloud tools to bring the dystopian dread of cube life back to your home office.
The burden will fall first and hardest on fake, internally-optimized email jobs, that don’t require or develop any transferable skills. A lot of people are going to be caught by surprise, and will have to lie extravagantly about what they did for the last two years to find a job.
Fortunately, you have something like six and a half hours of every workday in which to start maneuvering. If you want help to get started, EXIT has weekly accountability groups focused on tech jobs, trade jobs, and entrepreneurship, so you can build a better negotiating position before the music stops.
Check us out at exitgroup.us.