8: Hourly wages

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
8: Hourly wages

Today, we’re talking about wages. Specifically…

Is the hourly wage system outdated for jobs that can (and often are) done remotely?

Show notes & links:
Six Centuries of Work and Wages (

What things cost in Ancient Rome

Full episode text

Now here’s a uniquely post-industrial age question. After all, the concept of a work-life balance didn’t even exist as a philosophical dichotomy until the mid 1800’s. And the idea of an hourly wage is also arguably new. From the 1884 tome “Six Centuries of Work and Wages: the History of English Labor” to the best known historical records of pay in ancient Rome, the fact is people were often paid on the basis of the number of customers served, amount wheat harvested, or number bricks fired – not by the amount of time it took them to actually do the work.

However, in the modern day, when we have clocks that are synced, hourly wages are the norm, and many jobs can now be done remotely. If you are one of the privileged that can do their job without being in a physical location, does “clocking in” and “clocking out” make sense? Or does a remote job mean that putting in the digital “face time” is not as important as doing as the Romans did, and getting paid on the basis of the work you complete?