When people become CPUs


Joining a consultancy company in Portugal? Your mileage may vary.

For most of my tech-friends the first job was at a consultancy company. When they managed to squeeze some time to be with us they shared their “pains”. Although they worked on different consultancy companies, there was something that junior consultants all agreed upon: we work way too many hours. Let me use a metaphor that illustrates the whole problem.

Persons are bought and managed like CPUs. The Human Resources of companies buy all the best and most hardworking new graduates they can find. The Human Resources (HR) department is only interested in these kind of persons because they’re top performers, full of energy, and with no (family) responsibilities.

Once the HR has acquired these new “CPUs” they start to shape them to fit the existing motherboard‘s (company’s) chipset (way of doing things). That is, the HR infuse the newcomers with the company’s culture and – worst than that – the HR ensures that all newcomers dress the same, think the same, and act the same. It’s all about consistency. So that’s how they handle “diversity”, they ask you to leave your personality at home.

Now that the CPUs are connected to the motherboard, it’s time to overclock them and collect profits. When I heard my friends talk about “exemption from a work schedule” I assumed they meant that a person would start the maximum 8 hours at any given time – which would make sense to compensate different time zones. Turns out what it really meant was that a person would work any hours at any time. It’s one for all, and all for themselves.

Eventually CPUs melt and leave the motherboard. For the motherboard it’s time to buy brand new processing power. For the CPUs it’s time to shake the dust out of their personalities, wear them once again, and restart living. Maybe it’s time to join that startup. Maybe it’s time to join that SME. About half my ex-consultant friends took one of those two paths.

No money – and certainly not the one they’re paying you – justifies sacrificing your health, your happiness, or your personality. “Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts!” (Charlie Chaplin)

2 replies on “When people become CPUs”

And even if you do all the work assigned in the 8 supposed hours, they (mostly your colleagues, wtf?) still make those sidelong glances of disapproval because you’re leaving too early…