Work is getting really weird

Work is getting really weird
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Welcome back! “The Bear,” everyone’s favorite kitchen dramedy, is back for its third season. We figured out how much the characters would actually get paid working at a restaurant in Chicago.

In today’s big story, we’re looking at how people are secretly outsourcing parts of their jobs, but job promotions are harder to get than ever.

What’s on deck:

But first, strange times.


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The big story

Bizarro workplace

Shadow workers are immersed in darkness behind a screen

Let’s be honest: Work has gotten really weird.

The workplace has been in a constant state of change since the onset of the pandemic. There was the great resignation and quiet quitting. Super commuters and the overemployed.

But now the workplace has reached its most (or least) evolved form: People paying others to do their job for them.

The use of “shadow stand-ins” — someone you outsource parts or all of your job to, unbeknownst to your employer — is on the rise, writes Business Insider’s Rob Price.

Remote work, global social networks, and ubiquitous software tools mean workers can easily find low-paid helpers, often in India and Pakistan, to do their grunt work. Facebook and Telegram are home to thriving marketplaces for hiring this hidden labor.

Workers hiring shadow stand-ins can be unqualified for their jobs, overwhelmed, greedy, or just lazy. And they often have, shall we say, less-than-ideal views of their employers.

“For-profit corporations are government-sanctioned psychopaths, existing only to predatorily and parasitically earn profit,” one disciple told Rob. “Corporations are owed no moral obligation whatsoever.”

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The irony is the shadow stand-in ecosystem operates similarly to the companies these outsourcers so despise. Shadow stand-ins are typically paid a fraction of the salary earned by the actual employee. One employee also described to Rob struggling to deal with a shadow stand-in’s sub-par work and eventually “firing” them.

Man in suit looking up at a red ladder leaning against a bar chart that is too short to be practical

Meanwhile, the people who are doing all the work themselves are having a tough time getting any recognition.

The percentage of promotions being handed out continues to shrink as companies keep their belts tight amid high interest rates and uncertain economic conditions, writes BI’s Aki Ito.

And don’t bank on this just being part of a broader workplace cycle. Hard lessons were learned in 2023 when companies issued wave after wave of layoffs. They now seem desperate to avoid ballooning back up in size and salaries.

If promotions are out of the question, changing jobs has always been the best way to get a big salary bump.

But that’s proving difficult too, as the hiring of high-salaried employees has slowed considerably. And even if you do find a job posting, there’s a good chance it could be fake.

Ultimately, you’re left working with colleagues who might not be working at all or are secretly on vacation. You and your boss probably don’t trust each other, and you don’t have work friends to commiserate with.

Oh, and don’t forget the overarching fear of your job being replaced by AI at a moment’s notice.

Like I said, work has gotten really weird.


News brief

Your Monday headline catchup

A quick recap of the top news from over the weekend:

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3 things in markets

elderly couple staring into the sun with wife carrying golden piggy bank under her arm
  1. These boomers are all smiles in retirement. Plenty of Americans are worried about stretching their savings at the end of their life, but these boomers are sitting pretty. As the owners of rare pensions and with real estate and stock portfolios that have greatly appreciated over the years, it’s the golden age of retirement.
  2. No flash, but worth your cash. Construction, utility, and electrical companies in the data-center landscape are poised to be big winners from the AI boom. Traditionally viewed as a defensive and boring sector, data centers will play a key role in powering the AI models set to transform the world over the next decade.
  3. Some retail traders won’t stop betting on GameStop. After Roaring Kitty broke his silence last month, interest in GameStop stock has been revived. With its latest rally, many traders can’t ignore the allure of striking it rich on the meme stock, they told BI, even after losing it big the first time around.

3 things in tech

machine and robot arms
  1. Looking to integrate AI in your business? These consultants might be able to help. The generative AI boom has made businesses eager to implement the tech, but unsure where to begin. Here’s what Bain, McKinsey, and others are telling clients.
  2. What will happen to AI progress if China invades Taiwan? Major AI chip designers depend on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to make crucial components. But TSMC’s location puts AI — and its future — in a tricky geopolitical position. BI spoke with “Chip War” author Chris Miller, who warns about what might happen to the world’s chip supply in the event of an invasion.
  3. Inside Netflix’s two-CEO strategy. Netflix is the rare company with two CEOs, Greg Peters and Ted Sarandos. It’s a risky setup — but so far it seems to be working. Peters explained how the big decisions get made.
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3 things in business

a vintage Coach bag morphs into a modern Coach bag.
  1. How Coach turned its flop era into a slay. Though the designer’s once-coveted handbags fell out of fashion in the 2010s, Coach’s post-pandemic renaissance has been swift and fruitful. It’s largely thanks to the brand’s resonance with Gen Z.
  2. Why your local pharmacy may be closing. Corner drugstores across the country are shuttering, with major retailers Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid shutting down hundreds of stores. A string of short- and long-term challenges are contributing to their contraction.
  3. The weird, wild world of the US housing market. Real estate is defying an Econ-101 principle: the law of supply and demand. Demand is at a four-month low, supply is at a four-year high, and prices are at unprecedented heights. “It’s a real head-scratcher,” economist David Rosenberg said.

In other news


What’s happening today


The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Hallam Bullock, senior editor, in London. Grace Lett, associate editor, in Chicago. Annie Smith, associate producer, in London. Amanda Yen, fellow, in New York.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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