Companies Only Want Hardcore Workers
Hiring managers are finding creative ways to filter out all but the most dedicated and least likely to complain
Here’s an uncomfortable topic, especially in the Bay Area. Covid and a near recession has taught companies that they don’t like lifestyle employees. Or what I’m calling “casuals”.
These are people who want—and were sold in college—a “family” at work. Work-life balance. They ask what the company offers them, vs. what they can offer the company. Companies are done with this mindset in their workers. They’re fed up. The pendulum is swinging violently the other direction, which is towards Alaskan Fishing Boats. What does that mean?
Companies are silently looking for ways to filter out all but the hardcore types, and Return to Office is just one example policy.
It means the captain asks you if you’re willing to sacrifice everything for this job, and be 100% all-in, and if so you agree to do exactly what I fucking tell you to do. And not complain. Otherwise, I’ll give this job to someone who does.
Companies can’t say they’re heading this direction because it’s not PC. But—at least in my opinion—that’s why so many are doing aggressive Return to Office and similar policies that either fire people or make them quit. It’s because they want them to quit.
They’re looking for people who will work the hardest with the fewest complaints. Full stop.
Now this doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to counter all the pro-balance and pro-employee perk language that’s been building up for the last decade. But what it does mean is that it will be largely hollow for many companies.
The HR department will still be selling the touchy-feely vibe, but underneath the hiring managers will secretly be finding ways to filter for the hardcore mentality.
Here’s what I think about all this.
I think this move is the smart thing to do (mostly) from a business sense, because those workers who pass the hardcore test will end up producing far more than non-hardcore alternatives. I say mostly because it’s possible to go way too far there and become horrible and toxic.
Companies will continue to make exceptions for top-5% talent. Expect to see named people allowed to have more at-home time, more equity, etc., just because they pull in more fish than everyone else.
This truth about the corporate world should tell us it’s time to move on from this antiquated corporate system.
I think this whole thing is a wake-up for anyone who values their creativity and their autonomy.
Companies are very old constructs, based loosely on military organizations. That’s why you have officers, a rigid reporting structure, etc. There was a time when this was 1) the only thing available, and 2) mutually beneficial to all parties.
You used to be able to get a corporate job and retire with it. With a pension. With job safety. While being able to put kids through college, take vacations, etc. But that’s all gone now.
This phase is completing
Yuval Harari talks in his books about phases of civilizational organization that have usefulness for a period and then are suddenly no longer needed.
He suggests that societies grow out of certain phases when new technologies, ideologies, or economic systems emerge. For example, the Industrial Revolution marked the end of feudalism in many societies. Similarly, the rise of scientific thinking and humanism has challenged the dominance of traditional religions.
It’s time to transition from the Corporate era to the Individual era.
He says these phases are necessarily 'better' or ‘worse’ than the previous or last, but rather a different way of organizing human life that responds to changing conditions.
Well, I’d argue that Corporate Work is one such phase.
It used to have all sorts of advantages, some of which were mentioned above. But now most of them are gone. Plus there are many advantages to alternatives.
Individuals are able to switch jobs faster
It’s not considered as bad to do so
Companies can fire easier, and that’s also not as abnormal
Everyone’s pretty much dropped pensions
Freelance work is a lot more of a thing due to technology
So what’s the new phase?
It’s time for humans to blossom into our potential, which doesn’t involve Jira
I think the new phase is that of the Individual.
This is why I advocate so much for people having their own domain, their own websites, emoting in public, learning in public, etc.
It’s because the HUMAN is the unit of import. We’re what matters. Not corporations. We shouldn’t be judging ourselves by the title a company gives us. We shouldn’t be restricted from sharing ourselves online by our companies.
It’s our time.
So, while this move to “hardcore” will cause a lot of difficulty for people, and it’s quite underhanded in the way it’s not being talked about, I ultimately think it’s a good thing for humanity.
Becasue we’re not supposed to be moving paperwork from here to there anyway. Writing documentation. Going to meetings about meetings. We have more to offer than repetitive tasks and office politics that make you pray for the weekend.
The faster we see the corporate job for what it is, i.e., as a relic of the past, the faster we can start transitioning to the next thing.
I don’t think society should stop corporations cold-turkey. First of all, different cultures will transition at different speeds. Don’t hold your breath for South Korea or Japan anytime soon. And there is still a role for corporations, but they should basically be Alaskan fishing boats full of hardcore Individuals who know their own value, have their own independence, and are temporarily playing on an elite team. Which is in strong contrast to the dom/sub dynamic of many current corporations.