27 Oct Cronyism, Collusion, & RTO: Do Not Be Naïve!
On September 28th, I bucked the social media trend and told you that GM walking back its RTO mandate was temporary. It didn’t represent a total capitulation on RTO in favor of WFH. Instead, IMO, it was a temporary stop-gap for people to either warm up to coming back or leave. And now we’re here: “GM employees will be back in the office next year. Not all of them are happy.” Told ya so!
✔️ More predictions from me: 3 days in the office will eventually transition to 5 days in the office. I do not believe hybrid work is being set up as a permanent model for most companies. Many people who work that way don’t even like it and I just don’t see it being a permanent thing.
✔️ Workplace feudalism as well as just *gestures broadly* feudalism in general is becoming too obvious to ignore. Is it really about “in person collaboration” or is it about compliance and obedience?
✔️ Be wary of people on social media who want to give you hot air and hopium. They might be lulling you into a happy coma that won’t end particularly well.
Links I discuss in this episode:
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, thanks for tuning in. Today I want to talk about cronyism, collusion and the big push for RTO. And why I think as I’ve said many times, that naivete is coming at too high of a price. I feel like we live in very strange times. Years ago, I remember seeing Salman Rushdie in an interview talking about how we live in an age of outrage for its own sake. It’s like people look for reasons to be pissed off. They look for reasons to be offended and mad. And that’s true. But then, at the same time, paradoxically, we get a lot of hot air hopium toxic positivity, toxic optimism. It’s a very weird dichotomy, isn’t it? On the one hand, people want to be mad. It’s like, they don’t want to have heroes anymore. They just want to have villains. It’s like a lopsided version of British pantomime where instead of cheering for the hero, and booing at the baddie, people just want to be the baddie. They really don’t want to have heroes. They don’t want to have anyone to look up to anymore. It’s weird. But then at the same time, when you go online, you get a lot of nothing to see here. People move along, move along. So you have the trolls and the bots and the shills that just want to tear everybody down. Like Brene Brown talks about if someone is in the cheap seats, booing and heckling, forget them don’t sit and mock and deride people that are in the arena trying to do something. So you have the trolls and the bots and the man explainers and the AI holes that sit in the cheap seats and try to make fun of people who are attempting to do something with their lives. But then you also have the hashtag blast good vibes only everything’s gonna be fine crowd. It’s a very, very weird thing. And I remember whenever I saw the the initial headlines about GM and the RTO, push and the backlash, oh, mg, social media was awash with hot air and hopium and toxic positivity. And I’m sitting here like, the lone voice of reason in the wilderness going on. Yeah. But no, no, no, no, no. I published a blog post called Imagine that on September 28. And I’ll read some of that for you now. GM delays returned to Office mandate after employee backlash. I’ll redraw the link to the article in CNBC so that you can go back and revisit that for yourself. I’ll continue to read from my blog post now. You mean people don’t actually want to go back. Imagine that. The company’s senior leadership team on Friday said corporate workers would be required to return to physical locations at least three days a week, beginning later this year in what the company called an evolution of its current remote work policies. On Tuesday, a second message walked back that timing and clarified the company won’t be mandating specific in office days. Instead leaving that decision to individual teams. Our plan was always and still is collaboratively designing the solution that best balances the needs of the enterprise with the needs of each have you read the memo, which was signed by CEO Mary Barra, and other executives a copy of which was viewed by CNBC. The follow up messages says no workers will be required to return to offices sooner than the first quarter of next year. While we have maintained a highly collaborative culture over the past two years during a very challenging time, the intangible benefits of in person collaboration are going to be a critical success factor. As we move into a period of rapid launches the Tuesday message set. This evolution is about being ready for the next phase of our transformation. A GM spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the message saying it sought to provide more clarity to help answer some of the questions and concerns that we’ve been receiving. She said the timing of the return to Office has shifted. But the overall plan has not really changed from CNBC. So here’s the thing. They aren’t saying to forget about RTO they’re walking it back temporarily but making it clear that the overall plan has not really changed. Prediction alert. This will happen at other companies to wait and sate. Again at the risk of sounding cynical, or Debbie downer, I just don’t see the average worker winning this rebellion against corporate America in an economic downturn. We have too many people living paycheck to paycheck and dealing with personal debt. In my opinion, GM is essentially say, we’ll walk it back for now. We’ll give you a little bit more time to warm up to this idea. But guess what a change is going to come like it or not. You’re going back to the office and quote, well, okay, I’m gonna pull him out because it’s relevant. Sarah was right yet again. I’m not scared to say I told you so because I did. I totally did. Whenever this article came out on CNBC, and there was a deal about it on the side panel for LinkedIn, the amount of hot air and hopium and BS that I saw was absurd. Now we’re some of those people bots, trolls, corporate shills of some kind deliberately pushing misinformation. It’s entirely possible. It truly is. I don’t know. But I feel like there were all of these people commenting that this was some kind of permanent victory, some kind of real sea change. And I’m sitting here going, No, it’s not. They freaking said, this is a temporary moratorium. We’re walking it back temporarily. We’re not saying you know, what, oopsy, Daisy are bad. We’ll just forget about our to permanently stay where you’re at you do you and we’re sorry, they didn’t say that at all. But yet, based on the comments on social media, you would think that that’s exactly what they had said. And I just find that so frustrating. Because to me, if we can’t get past the BS, the toxic positivity, the hopium, the hot air, and we’re never going to actually solve any problems. In order to really address what’s going on, we have to be willing to call a thing a thing. And the more of this hot air BS hopium nonsense that we get into or it’s like, I’m just going to go along to get along and I’m going to put my head in the clouds and I’m just going to blindly believe whatever I’m told by people on social media, you’re not solving any problems. Unfortunately, sort of like somebody leading you down a primrose path to your own disaster. If you’re not willing to wake up, up, up, up up. This was no permanent sea change, not by a mile. No, no, no, no. And they never claimed that it was. That’s the thing. Now here we are. On the 21st or the 22nd of October, The Detroit News published an article titled, GM employees will be back in the office next year. Not all of them are happy. Now, three years after having the choice to work remotely General Motors Co white collar workers will be required to return three days a week starting in January 2023. cities and businesses affected by the loss of people going to the office during the pandemic are pleased with the prospect of 1000s Returning to GMs Renaissance headquarters in downtown Detroit and to the automakers. Warren global Technical Center. Oh, indeed. Remember all that stuff about cross pollinating. The mayors of these big cities said, Okay, it’s time for the restrictions to go away. We want you back downtown. We want you in the restaurants. We want you in the shops. It’s time for y’all to go ahead and come on back. You need to be rubbing shoulders, you need to be socializing, huh? Yeah, it’s about money in it. It’s like in the episode I published about neuro marketing and the illusion of free choice, the Bill Hicks, quote, If you think that you’re living in a free society, try going somewhere without money. See how far you get? I’m sure they are delighted and continue to read. But employees aren’t as happy. They’ve taken the online forums such as Reddit to express their frustrations after thinking GMs flexible work strategy would mean they wouldn’t be required to return. This is another reason why I’m on the airwaves. Why I’m on my blog. I’m on medium. I’m trying to use whatever platform I can to tell you, please don’t be caught off guard. Please don’t be naive, who thought that they wouldn’t be required to RTO at some point. These companies are really not being shy. Remember when Jamie Dimon saying I want it back like it was in 2019. Hello. This is not a very thesis. But experts say there’s not much they can do about it. The folks you’re talking about at General Motors are almost entirely non union, their clerical employees, their lower level management, they really have no recourse said Susan Sherman, a professor of Labor Studies at Rutgers University, though if they get a big enough pushback from enough people who start looking to work elsewhere, that could change things, especially right now. When the labor markets still pretty tight. She said, Hmm, no, no, no, no, I don’t think so. I’m going to buck the trend. I’m going to go against what These people are saying like sort of common narrative we’re getting? No, the labor market is not still pretty tight, perhaps fast food and retail. Yes. For these types of white collar positions? No, indeed, it is not. I do not believe that was so many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, dealing with personal debt having to do buy now pay later for groceries. I don’t think that all of these people are gonna walk off. I’m sorry, I don’t. If you were making 70k a year with a decent benefits package, and you were told RTO, three days? Or else would you leave that job in a fit of rage and then take a job at a fast food restaurant? Probably not. I’m gonna guess that you probably wouldn’t. Here’s another prediction alert. I think three days in the office will eventually go back to five days. I think this is just more of the theater. It’s more of the pantomime pageantry to try to get you used to the idea. When you’re in the office three days a week, let’s go ahead and make it five. Now they may just sort of sweeten the pot if they decide to say you can have two or three days in a month to work from home, or we might increase your PTO. But that’s really going to depend on how bad the economy gets. I think we’ve already moved from the characteristic. So I really think more of these companies are just going to be emboldened to say RTO or it’s your job. Oh, and by the way, there’s not really two legitimate high paying open jobs for everyone unemployed person. Unemployment is not really 3.5 or 3.7%. So if you have a big man and you walk off, you better be sure of what you’re doing. Mm hmm. Yep, just wait. Last year, GM, like other companies implemented a flexible work appropriately model which allowed teams to work from home, lab and office or wherever they do their best work. The company pointed out this model was not a policy but more of a mindset. Employees were caught by surprise when September Friday afternoon when GM sent out a note informing teams, they would be required to return to the office three days a week. After pushback from employees. GM said it was putting off those plans for the time being. Couple of things I want to interject here. Please don’t be caught off guard. Do not get naive about corporate America do not get naive about the Wall Street fat cats and in my opinion, crony capitalism that we live in. naivete comes at too high of a price. Please do not be caught off guard. The other thing is they put it off for the time being. They put it off temporarily. They never said that they were walking it back permanently. That’s another case of hot air hopium and BS that went around on social media. I’ll continue to read. As far as why GM is mandating return to the office spokesperson Maria Moreno said the company is in the middle of a historic transformation of our business. And in person collaboration is a critical success factor as we move into a period of rapid launches. GM has several major electric vehicle launches next year including the Chevrolet Silverado Evie, the blazer, Evie and the equinox. Evie. It’s like the episode I recorded about neuro marketing and the illusion of free choice. The Bill Hicks quote I had in the write up, if you think that we live in a free society, try going somewhere without money and see how far you get. Because this has so much to do with money, the businesses can’t wait for you to be back downtown. Again, they want that money, they want you to come in and spend your money on their lunches, they want you to come in and buy stuff from their shops. And look, I am not begrudging anyone the opportunity to make a living, to open a shop, to have a restaurant and to want customers to come in. When you own a restaurant or a shop. It’s a very natural impulse for you to want customers to come in. My point is if you enjoy working from home, and you don’t want to commute, you’re not interested in eating downtown, you’re not interested in shopping downtown. You better get your mind right. Because these CEOs are not being shy and saying that they really want like 2018 2019 to come back. They want everything to go back the way that it was before that happened. be naive at your own risk, because they’re not they’re not burying the thesis on this. The other thing is I am so sick and tired of this corporate cult speak propaganda about in person collaboration. In order for us to do what we need to do you better be buttoned seed in the office. In my opinion, it has nothing to do with collaboration and these alleged Eureka I found it moments where everybody high fives around the coffee pot and it looks like something out of a stock photo. It’s about obedience. It’s about compliance. It’s about obedience. You sit down, you shut up and you do what you’re told. You don’t push back. You need to be a sycophant, whatever we say goes and you better seal clap and act happy about it. Or there’s the door. Wait and see the push to get workers back in the hall. Office is being done. Employment experts say to make sure culture isn’t lost. You know, I’m thinking of that scene in Spider Man that became a meme where William Defoe was like, you know, I’m something of a scientist myself, you know, I’m something of an employment expert myself. And I’m really sick and tired of company culture being used as an excuse to paper over a variety of sins, to promote a variety of bad behavior to uphold archaic out of date BS, that doesn’t work anymore. And this idea that you need to come on back because culture, what does that even mean? Anyway? What kind of culture is office chairs, cubicles, fluorescent lighting, and industrial carpeting? While you look out the window, and you’re like, I would really rather be anywhere else in here. What kind of culture is that? Anyway? I don’t get it. Employee engagement needs kind of gas in the tank every quarter. So let’s say you’re a fully remote team, you should be meeting with your team every quarter to keep morale full. And after that quarter goes by after those three months engagement tends to fall said Mark. Oh, stock. Oh, Stach. Oh, stock, a Clarkson based keynote speaker, author and consultant for companies on the hybrid work approach. Okay, the scene in The Godfather to the gift that keeps on giving us where Connie trotting up Merle, here we go. Michael Corleone sitting there saying I don’t know this mural? I don’t know what he lives on. Same thing. I don’t know. This mark guy can’t even pronounce his last name. Oh, statue. Oh, stop. I don’t know. I don’t know this mark. I don’t know what he lives on. I’m not judging him as a person. I don’t know him. What I would say is that, that last line there kind of tells us ipso facto by its very nature, what’s going on here, a consultant for companies on the hybrid work approach. I would assume that he probably is a proponent of the hybrid work approach. Otherwise, why would he be a consultant for companies on the hybrid work approach? I don’t vary my thesis. I hate hybrid work. I think it’s a hell of half measures. I think at some point you have to fish or cut bait. You’re they’re going to allow people in though I hate that word, allow allow people to work from home, or they’re going to have to come back to the office. It’s the one or the other. But I think this hell of half measures. It’s all just a transition, in my opinion. Two days in the office three days in the office, now it’s five days in the office, you come on back or it’s your job. Unemployment is a lot higher than what you’ve been told. Wink wink, nudge, nudge, sorry about you. Come on back, or else. This idea that you need to have people you need to have a cowpoke round up where everybody comes and stares at each other in a conference room once every three months says who? What’s the data here? What where’s the the information that tells me I can trust this? Data is just being thrown at me employment engagement needs kind of gas in the tank every quarter. Okay, based on want. Seriously, for older companies like GM, there’s also a mindset that employees should be working at the office. If you think about Jim’s history and culture, there’s a bias that says we need to be able to have eyes on people in order to make sure that they’re really being productive, Sherman said. That’s also what it’s about. I feel like I’m being vindicated. Yet again, it’s about surveillance. It’s about control. It’s about obedience, it’s easier for you to be surveilled. If you’re sitting right there. If the boss man can just crane his head, lean back in his cubicle and watch you in your cubicle. It’s easier. They don’t have to go through quite as much pageantry and electronic shit shenanigans to monitor you. But I also feel like this goes back to the article I read on medium about productivity theater. I also wrote a blog post about that I’ll drop a link to that as well. I wrote months ago about the pantomime the play acting the pageantry involved in corporate America, you really are expected to play a role. Whatever your boss tells you to do, you better do it. And you better do it with a fake smile plastered on your face or else. If you think that that kind of attitude is not coming back to corporate America. I really don’t know what to tell you. And I don’t know what else is going to convince you. For me, a lot of this ties into crony capitalism, collusion, and workplace feudalism. I don’t know how much longer people will be able to bury their heads in the sand on those issues. I guess some people could forever you know, they’re going to watch their tiktoks and their Instagram videos and they’re going to worry more about what kind of a diet is Kim Kardashian on what’s happening in fashion, who’s dating who who’s the latest person to go on a tirade and get canceled? I guess that that’s what they put their focus on. I don’t know. To me, the evidence is just becoming so obvious and so irrefutable that it’s it’s difficult to ignore if you have any critical thinking skills at all, it’s just becoming more and more difficult to ignore. I feel like this episode will age well, and I feel like the comments and the predictions that I’ve made, will come true. I wish that that were not the case, I just don’t see any way around it. That’s a sad reality. I would love to be able to have a hype man, a reverse hype man be like this time she was wrong. I hope I hope for that, I just don’t think that’s the direction it’s gonna go in. And I want to be honest with you so that you can prepare accordingly. I can’t give you advice and I can’t tell you what to do. All I can try to do is expose the truth as I see it. And then you can take that information and do with it. Whatever you feel is best for yourself and your family. I just really, really deeply do not want anybody to be caught off guard. For me, ignorance is becoming less and less of a valid excuse. It just is. Over on medium.com there’s a great article written by Jared a Brock titled Not content to destroy affordable housing investors are now buying trailer parks and jacking rents. There’s an interesting part of this that dovetails into workplace feudalism. Because quite frankly, it’s about living situation feudalism. Under the heading, how bad can rent trap and get I want to read for you. Some people take rent trapping to extreme links, like trailer park owner Laurie Lee, who specializes in renting to wait for it, sex offenders. Last year, I bought a park down the street got rid of all the families and brought in convicted felons. And then I bought the property across the way once you’re into it, and you’re making money, it’s easy to say one more, one more. When asked how often tenants leave her parks, she answered, when they die, they stay forever, they have no place to go. As Esther Sullivan, author of manufactured insecurity says the vulnerability of these residents is part of the business model. This is a captive class of tenant. And the opportunity for exploitation is huge. 20 million poor Americans live in trailer parks and quote when I left a comment on this article, it was really to say, I feel like they want a captive class of all of us. It may start with people that we can, we can hold our nose and say well, those are unsavory characters anyway, sex offenders, who’s going to stick up for rapists and people like that you. And I get that I’m not going to sit here and tell you I have a high degree of sympathy for sex offenders. I don’t. The point is, sometimes these plans start out with the unsavory characters and they work their way up. I feel like workplace feudalism is the same thing, we’re going to start out, it’s like the analogy of the frog in the boiling pot, we’re going to start out, turning the heat up a little bit more, and then a little bit more and a little bit more, we’re gonna go ahead and walk back RTO for a little while, gives you the idea that you know, okay, I’m gonna have to either stay and get used to this, or I’m gonna have to leave, then it’s going to be three days, and it’s going to be four days, it’ll be five days in the office, and then it’s just gonna be like, Look, the work from home Revolution had its time and that was good and all but now it’s time to come on back. I really think they want a captive class not only of tenants, but of workers too. They want to get it so that you really just don’t have much freedom of choice. If you are crippled by debt. If you are living paycheck to paycheck and you feel like somebody’s squeezing you around the neck. Or that awful video, Dick Fuld saying I want to reach in their shorts and squeezing them. I want to rip out their heart while it’s still beating an Eden in front of them. I almost don’t even know what to say to that. It’s so diabolical. But yet, hello, wake up. Please be aware that these are the types of corporate raiders and fat cats and Wall Street tycoons that have a high degree of power in this country. So if you think that there’s going to be all of this power to the little guy, and there’s going to be some permanent revolution and all of these companies are going to walk back whatever their plans are for the long term. Wow, naivete is coming at too high of a price. Stay safe, stay sane. And I will see you in the next episode. Thanks for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. We’ll see you next time.