If you’re managing remote workers, how do you know they’re working only for you? In a survey by the job site Monster earlier this year, 37% of respondents said they had more than one full-time job. Being “overemployed” by choice became easier when the pandemic normalized remote work.
Now add to the mix ChatGPT and its ilk, which can make many jobs much easier to perform. For remote workers who’ve embraced overemployment, these artificial-intelligence tools can enable them to not just do two jobs, but to do them with time left to spare—or to even do three or four jobs, if they’re willing to increase the risk of burnout or getting caught.
That’s already happening, according to a Vice report this week. The publication said it spoke to various workers holding two to four full-time jobs with help from A.I. tools, withholding their real names for obvious reasons. Fortune could not independently verify the reporting.
According to Vice, one member of the overemployed community has been using ChatGPT to do two jobs and is hoping to add a third, increasing his compensation from $500,000 to $800,000. He considers himself part of the FIRE movement (“Financial Independence, Retire Early”) and is not yet 30.
And one Ohio-based technology worker, the report states, upped his jobs from two to four after he started taking advantage of ChatGPT.
It’s unclear how many workers may be using A.I. tools for overemployment, but there’s little doubt that such tools can dramatically reduce the time needed to complete tasks.
Last month, Ethan Mollick, a management professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, decided to find out for himself. He gave ChatGPT, GPT-4, MidJourney, and other “generative A.I.” tools 30 minutes to work on a business project. The results were “superhuman,” he explained, adding that he would have needed a team and “maybe days of work” to do all the work the A.I. did in half an hour.
It seems logical that some members of the overemployed community would take advantage of such capabilities.
And remote workers’ managers, often, care mostly that a task gets done by a certain time and do not closely monitor activities. “You say to somebody, ‘Look, you gotta get this done by next Friday at noon.’ You don’t really care when they do it…as long as it gets done,” Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary said last month.
Of course, many high-profile CEOs have been issuing return-to-office mandates, among them Bob Iger at Disney and Howard Schultz at Starbucks.
And eventually companies and their investors will adjust to the new reality of A.I. tools making some tasks far easier to accomplish, and perhaps not requiring a full-time worker to accomplish them.
“It’s not clear to me how you start a company anymore,” venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya said this week on the All-In podcast in a discussion about rapidly expanding A.I. capabilities such as Auto-GPT (aka BabyAGI), which can act autonomously and self-prompt to achieve a given task. “I don’t understand why you would have a 40- or 50-person company to try to get to an MVP [miniumum viable product]. I think you can do that with three or four people.”