In This Episode:
* Consultant and virtual assistant Janice Plado Dalager joins Tara for a conversation about the unique skill set that virtual assistants and other support professionals bring to small businesses* How VAs end up mistreated by entre
In This Episode:
* Consultant and virtual assistant
Janice Plado Dalager joins Tara for a conversation about the unique skill set that virtual assistants and other support professionals bring to small businesses* How VAs end up mistreated by entrepreneurs—and the gendered and racialized components of these relationships that make mistreatment more likely* Why emotional labor is an undervalued skill for support pros, as well as why it should be a key part of how this work is compensated* How small business owners can check their own behavior to make these working relationships more humane
Back in 2016, the odd-job platform TaskRabbit ran a series of ads in New York City subways.
Imagine a photo of a thin, white woman in upward facing dog pose on a yoga mat. She’s blissed out. Above her, the poster reads “Mopping the floors” in trendy, pseudo handwriting script. Below her, the TaskRabbit tagline reads “We do chores. You live life.”
The ad campaign communicates the promise of letting your chores disappear into someone else’s workload.
We do chores, you live life: Who is “you?” And who is “we?”
Do the folks who are mopping floors ever get to be the “you” who lives life while someone else does the chores?
I’m Tara McMullin and this is What Works, the show that explores entrepreneurship for humans.
Independent work, the gig economy, online business—they’ve all been sold to us as ways to transcend old class divides. They promise a more level playing field for offering your time and skills. No fancy resume needed, just a willingness to put in the work.
Of course, this is far from the truth.
Michael Zelenko puts it this way in an article for The Verge
Instead of establishing partnerships within a community, the gig economy and TaskRabbit’s ads reaffirm a class divide, between the “You” — whose life is defined by recreational activities — and the “We,” whose lives are devoted to doing your chores.
Rather than leveling the playing field, gig work and the ever-increasing push to classify more workers as independent contractors has, in effect, reestablished a servant class. Now, however, it’s not just elites and the aristocracy who get access to servant labor—it’s anyone with a smartphone and a few extra bucks to spend on takeout or housework.
The more times I get my groceries delivered, the more I see my time, work, and self-care as more important than running errands. It’s a short jump to start to see those who are running my errands as less important than me. Less deserving of the good life.
And, in classic upstairs/downstairs Downton Abbey fashion, the more I use these services, the easier it is to allow the people doing them to be invisible. Sarah Jaffe, the author of Work Won’t Love You Back, recently talked about the culture of entitlement to service
that we have in the United States on The Ezra Klein Show. She suggested that our sense of freedom hinges, in some ways, on being able to get what we want, when we want it—without consideration for those who are making it happen.
And this is where I want to pivot to talking about micro entrepreneurship and digital small business.
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