CEO told to die in a car crash after firing engineers who had two full-time jobs
Boss says it was 'stealing' – but what do you think?
Poll A boss lit a small fire under LinkedIn when he posted that his company had sacked two recently hired engineers for continuing to work a full-time job at another company.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought a seismic shift to the workplace as office workers were encouraged to perform their roles from home in order to limit the spread. Since the madness has calmed, many have opted to continue working this way or in hybrid arrangements where the employee comes in for a number of days each week.
Many workers who were able to do their job from home liked it. They could focus better without the hustle and bustle of office life and it put an end to onerous and expensive commutes. It has also given parents more flexibility. Of course, just as many didn't like it for various reasons, usually social or the importance of face-to-face communication in their job.
Leaders of companies, on the other hand, feared it would be a productivity drain or, worse, lead to an inability to determine productivity. Last year "overemployment" became a "trend," with articles from The Wall Street Journal and Forbes reporting on the sensation of people who used lockdown restrictions to work two full-time jobs without letting either employer know. While some workers would view this as a finger to Western capitalism, bosses don't take too kindly to the chicanery involved in pulling this off.
This is exactly the situation Davis Bell, CEO of cloud-based accounting practice management software company Canopy, seems to describe in his post on the social network for suits.
"This is not about side hustles or moonlighting," he said. "These were people holding down two full-time synchronous jobs and lying about it – trying to be in two meetings at once, etc. Their early performance was really bad, and fortunately we have great managers who sniffed them out very quickly," the cloud CEO explained.
"Whenever I read stories in the media about people doing this I'm usually surprised that they don't make a bigger deal of the core moral issues at play: 'working' two full-time jobs is stealing, and it also involves a great deal of lying and deception."
He continued: "I guess some people feel that stealing from companies is less wrong than stealing from individuals. In reality, companies are owned by people – either directly, in the case of our employees, or indirectly, by the retirement funds that are invested in venture and private equity and investment funds that own companies. You're stealing from those who are depending on you to get work done and whose careers ride on the success of the companies for which they work.
"And finally, you're very likely stealing a job from someone who wants and needs it."
Bell then listed what could be deemed "red flags" from the sacked engineers after they joined Canopy including:
- Turning their LinkedIn profile to private after being hired so they didn't have to update their job to Canopy
- Not signing up for benefits
- Camera off in meetings
- Slow responses over Slack or email
- Frequently late or absent from meetings
- Working for very large companies "where it seems it may be easier to hang out and hide divided efforts"
He noted that one or more of these may not necessarily mean you're pulling the wool over your employer's eyes. For example, staff often have the camera off during meetings because A) they look and feel awful after more than two hours of trying to get two young children to where they need to be before work; B) they went to bed too late and are inhaling coffee; C) ain't nobody got to see that. Some are often a couple of minutes late to a meeting because they've already started work and haven't noticed the time – but at least they turn up.
- India's IT services sector wants workers back in offices – but not all the new hires
- Microsoft highlights 'productivity paranoia' in remote work research
- BT CEO orders staff: Back to the office or risk 'disciplinary action'
- Red Hat says staff can stay away from the office forever
Earlier this year, a poster on the infamous subreddit of indignant wageslaves, r/antiwork, claimed that they had managed to fully automate their job and hadn't told anyone about it:
I work for a mid-size lawfirm that hired me as an IT specialist to handle all of their digital evidence for trials. The law-firm was in the process of changing their evidence managing system to Cloud based and wanted me to to be the only person with admin access to the Cloud, everyone else would be limited to view only and would work on a local network drive. Sounds great, but I quickly realized this was the only task they expected me to perform in my 8-hour shift. This was in no way an 8-hour job, so I was stuck finding busy work at the office most of the time.
Then COVID happened and I was asked if there was any way I could work from home. I set up a remote workstation, tunneled it to my house, and that's when the real fun began. In about a week I was able to write, debug, and perfect a simple script that performed my entire job. It essentially scans the on-site drive for any new files, generates hash values for them, transfers them to the Cloud, then generates hash values again for fidelity (in court you have to prove digital evidence hasn't been tampered with). I clock in every day, play video games or do whatever, and at the end of the day I look over the logs to make sure everything ran smoothly... then clock out. I'm only at my desk maybe 10 minutes a day.
As far as anyone knows, they continue to "play video games or do whatever" while on the clock. The poster was hailed as a hero, with the most upvoted comment saying: "Think of your wages as a subscription service to your automation program." The solution, if true, of a batch script with "portions of PowerShell" certainly showed some know-how and could be seen as a work undertaking itself that freed them up for "passion projects" – or indeed another job altogether.
Canopy's Bell, however, turned comments off on his post after he received a phone call from someone telling him they hope he dies in a car crash. The "rant" was found and shared on r/antiwork.
The comments on that post were far less accommodating. "It's yet more 'rules for thee but not for me' bullshit," one said. "They're free to chase whatever profit they want in whatever manner they want but the idea of an employee being anything other than a serf bound solely to them and them alone clearly gets their blood boiling."
The problem seems to be that CEOs can come across as deeply privileged. The hard work and enormous intellect that it may or may not have taken to get there does not matter. Bell not only lists himself as Canopy CEO but also as "Angel Investor (various)." Though he told Insider that his investor gig only takes up an hour a month, this would still count as having more than one job to people on the street.
Elon Musk is CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. How does he have time for both those roles, but a lowly engineer can't possibly perform two jobs? Note that in a scene from BBC documentary The Elon Musk Show, Musk is seen patrolling Tesla offices, complaining that staff weren't at their desks after 9pm, but who was holding down the fort at SpaceX as he did that?
Jack Dorsey was CEO of Twitter and Block for a time. Jeff Bezos also somehow managed to helm Amazon and Blue Origin simultaneously. All this says to ordinary people is that if you're worth billions, you can do whatever you want.
All the while those at the coalface, those actually solving problems, netting sales, talking with customers, scrubbing toilets have no idea what it is a CEO actually does.
In Bell's case, it was the engineers' poor performance and workplace verification that exposed them within the first three months, but – surely – if you can work two jobs effectively with no one being the wiser, that's the employer's problem, not yours. We've set up a poll below for your amusement, and if you're "overemployed," why not tell us how you got away with it – or got fired – in the comments. ®