Chapter 2 - Modern Office Slavery

Chapter 2 - Modern Office Slavery

As I write this, the year is 2019. There are many people who would argue that slavery is a thing of the past.

Maybe they’ll begrudgingly agree that there is still sex slavery and trafficking and perhaps some sweatshops in third-world nations, but not in our country! Certainly not in offices!

And they’re wrong.

The flavor and marketing of slavery has changed as the political climate has changed, but the REALITY of slavery hasn’t.

A free person chooses what to work on, who to work with, when to work, and how to work.

If you aren’t able to choose those things for yourself every day at the office, then you are a slave.

  • Maybe you are a well-paid slave.
  • Maybe you picked which company to be a slave for.
  • Maybe it’s better than some of the alternatives.

But if you aren’t able to choose what to work on, whom to work with, when to work, and how to work, then you aren’t free. And you can feel it.

What is Modern Office Slavery?

Modern office slavery is a means by which those who are rich and in control find compliant and willing workers to help make them more money.

What are the signature traits of modern slave companies?

  1. Managers
  2. Fixed working hours
  3. Limited vacation time
  4. HR manuals
  5. Deadlines
  6. Employee reviews
  7. Mandatory one-on-ones
  8. Non-compete clauses
  9. Mandatory wasteful meetings
  10. Approval for time off
  11. Hours tracking
  12. Limited remote work

Now, to clarify, just because you work at a modern slave company, it doesn’t mean that you ARE a slave.

You might work for a company like this and have a lot of flexibility about which team you work on. You might be allowed to set your own hours. You might not need to fill out employee self-reviews. You may be permitted to swear even though it violates the HR manual.

But usually that’s not the case. For most people working in offices, they go along with most of these things even if they wouldn’t choose them. Most office workers CAN’T choose their own choices for all of those things.

More importantly, I don’t have the ability to freely choose all of those things.

Most importantly, YOU don’t have the ability to freely choose all of those things.

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “That’s just how companies work. There is no other way.”

There certainly is another way. There are a number of companies who DON’T have those things. I could list a large number of companies who are FREEDOM-ORIENTED.

These companies place a high value on AUTONOMY and FREEDOM and empower individuals to make a difference instead of managing them.

  • Valve
  • Spotify
  • Zerocracy
  • Basecamp
  • Edmunds
  • GAP
  • Fiverr
  • Sphinx
  • Upwork
  • Mojo Media Labs
  • ATB Financial
  • Meddius
  • and many others

What isn’t slavery?

If there is a restriction on you that wouldn’t affect your behavior if it were lifted, that doesn’t make you a slave.

Perhaps there’s a no cursing policy at work, and you don’t curse at all, anyway. That rule doesn’t affect you.

The only meaningful instruments of slavery are the ones that negatively impact your life.

  • If you want to leave early and go to your kid’s baseball game, and the boss won’t approve it, that’s when you’re a slave.
  • If you want to work on Project X, and you get assigned to Project Y instead, that’s when you’re a slave.

Since this is a PRACTICAL book, we’re only going to deal with the parts of office slavery that directly negatively impact your life. We’re going to solve those!

It particularly exploits people who are young and inexperienced and people with families. They have fewer options and more to lose if they don’t go along with all of the office policies, no matter how restrictive.

I could write diatribes arguing why companies should be associations of free individuals instead of hierarchies of slaves, but such books have already been written. More importantly, I would rather teach you how to take charge at the office and be free yourself. Once you do that, you will naturally do the same for others.

Slavery exists today. It is the approach used by companies who treat people as resources and are primarily concerned with making profit more than with benefitting its community.

Liberation Exercise:

Set aside 5 minutes to meditate and reflect.

  1. Write down the things that you WISH you could do at work.
  2. Write down the areas in which you are already free at work. Those are blessings.
  3. Write down the areas in which you are a slave at work. Those are our focus.