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Unfortunately, the term “hostile work environment” contains too many personal connotations for many of us. We’ve had bosses interrogate us about routinely clocking in three minutes late or coworkers put us on blast for 30-minute lunches occasionally bleeding into the 40-minute range. As much as that sucks, know that it could be worse. Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates revealed that he used to memorize the license plate numbers of his employees so he could track their every movement during business hours. Ouch.
The Microsoft cofounder revealed some of his former business tactics in a wide-ranging interview on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs program. “I knew everyone’s license plate, so I could look out in the parking lot and see when did people come in, when were they leaving. Eventually I had to loosen up, as the company got to a reasonable size,” he said.
Gates would scan the parking lot, checking in on which of his employees actually arrived on time, as well as keeping track of those who took too long of a break or had a tendency to leave early. Sounds like the dude seriously needed a chill pill or seven. He admits that, as the company grew, he had to loosen up on his parking lot micromanaging hobby in order to keep up with the hundreds that Microsoft employs. I suppose that when you’re in control of one of the country’s top companies, it probably makes sense to stop acting as campus security patrol.
Overall, this puts my boss in a slightly better light – even though she may lecture me about the occasional long lunch break, at least I know she isn’t tracking my every movement to make sure I work exactly 480 minutes five days a week. After all, I’m on salary..