Would it play in Peoria?
Could such a policy work in the land of apple pie and pre-50 stress strokes? Sure, employers here say they want employees to concentrate on work-life balance, but the memo comes in at midnight on a Tuesday with the conviction of sneaker manufacturer claiming to crack down on child labor. In our business culture, work-life balance means attending your kid's soccer game with a smartphone, so you can work when she's not on the field. It means making sure your iPad has a business inbox, so you can kick your pre-schooler off Doodlebug every time a manager passes the buck over to you.
American employers put up a kinder, gentler façade, but let's face it: If you don't work like you want your heart to pop, you won't get a good annual evaluation. It's a horrible habit that turns men into pear-shaped cube slaves and spawns moms with the mental stability of Sarah Connor.
Back in the real world
Amazon recently announced another backhanded way to pretend to care for its employees' well-being. Bezos has implemented a pay-to-quit program, which the company rolled out to 40,000 of its warehouse workers. Bezos says the program is to make sure his employees are happy at their jobs and want to stay. Translation: If they're not ready to cut family time by 80 percent and make that facetious "110 percent" commitment to the greatest company ever, take the five grand and get the hell out.
American IT workers can be among the hardest hit by this overcommitment culture. Device makers tout "access anywhere anytime" innovation like it's a fantastic advancement. But it's a boon to only A-type senior execs who can buy $500,000 yachts but can't enjoy them because they're addicted to work and want everyone else to be, too. For the rest of us, it means we have to respond instantly whenever a server hiccups, a senior exec forgets a password, or a sales rep wants us to remove the drunken and highly incriminating Facebook post they made the night before. How is that a good thing?
Anywhere anytime means -- well, anywhere anytime. It means your phone can thrust work stress on you 24/7, whether you're camping in Yellowstone, coaching Little League, or enjoying a relaxing baby seal-hunting trip in the upper Arctic.
I think the Heartbleed guy is lying through his teeth. I think he put that bug in on purpose so that businesses would panic and shut down VPN access for one glorious week. If that's the case, I'm going to send him a case of scotch and a gift certificate for a massage. Then after he's had his fill, I'll take him out back and give him exactly what he deserves for compromising my bank password.
This article, "Working for the weekend? Not if you want to keep your job," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.