A tech CEO in Utah bragged during a town hall meeting with his workers that one employee had to sell the family dog to be able to comply with the company's return-to-office policy, reported the New York Post on Thursday.
"Clearlink CEO James Clarke talked about the sacrifices he was seeing from some of the workers who were shedding 'blood, sweat, and tears' for the firm," the report said.
"'I learned from one of our leaders that in the midst of hearing this message, he went out and sold their family dog, which breaks my heart,' Clarke said as he began to brag about some of his past achievements as the company’s 'head of the humanization of pets movement.'
'Truly those are the sacrifices that are being made and I honor you for those sacrifices and what is taking place here,' the CEO added, according to the report.
Clearlink, a digital marketing firm, had been allowing its staff to telework but, according to VICE News, all employees who live within 50 miles of the company headquarters in Draper were ordered to return to the office on April 16.
"Following the bizarre statement about his employees’ sacrifices, Clarke shifted his attention to those that didn’t meet his work standards," said the Post's report.
"'(Some aren’t) working hard at all, and it’s unfair to the rest that are,' Clarke said about the people who are doing the bare minimum of their job without much effort. 'Some have already quietly quit their positions but are taking a paycheck. In one month of this year alone I got data that about 30 of you didn’t even open or crack open laptops and those are all remote employees including their manager for a whole month.'"
The notion there is a nationwide epidemic of "Quiet Quitting," or people secretly not doing their jobs while still taking a paycheck, has been pushed hard by managers as a justification for abandoning telework policies, but there is no evidence to support this is a widespread phenomenon.
Following the widespread adoption of telework after the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers feel happier and more productive in that environment, but some managers have desperately tried to bring people back into the office, believing it's better for control or for team cohesion. In one of the most public examples, tech billionaire Elon Musk ordered all Tesla staff to return to the office or resign last June, claiming that remote workers are only "pretending to work"; however, he partially relented this year and allowed remote work for Twitter employees in Seattle and Singapore, because the company is bleeding so much money they had to close down those offices altogether.