Decoupling Work and Life Post-Pandemic
I saw that Basecamp was trending on Twitter the other day, and I was pleased to realize it wasn’t Mount Everest’s campsite but the software company.
Basecamp has an impressive portfolio of widely used products, a bold approach to culture (they’ve been remote forever), a ton of open source contributions, an intrepid voice in the tech industry (e.g. taking on Apple’s App Store policies), and more.
It’s also a company run by two white dudes who write books and compose tweets that are peak righteousness. The tone of everything they say suggests, “if you don’t do things this way, you’re a fucking dumb ass.” Privilege cubed.
Interestingly, they do not have an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan), and they *just* recently introduced 10% profit sharing. While they probably pay their employees very well, the founders don’t really want to share the long-term value with them.
So why are they trending? This is the post they’re getting hosed for. It’s an announcement about the internal changes they’ve made at the company, which include:
Banning societal and political discussions on their company’s internal forums.
Dissolving benefits like wellness, continuing education allowances, and farmers’ market shares to avoid “nudging people’s personal, individual choices.”
Getting rid of committee-led decision-making to get “back to individual responsibility [and] back to work.” In other words, letting leaders make decisions.
The policy change led a third of the company’s employees to quit and CEO Jason Fried to issue an apology in response. Let’s face it, if this was any other 60-person company, these changes wouldn’t get this much attention. But because these guys basically livestream their entire operation and call attention to their superiority, it’s fair game to freely comment on it.
All of this being said––and putting my bitterness aside––their revised policies are rational and logical, imo. It does seem like a “back to basics” approach when it comes to our relationship with work. And, in this day and age, work has indeed become way too interwoven with our personal lives. I think it’s time to decouple them.
I agree that internal political debates don’t belong in the workplace; they’re divisive and destructive. Plus, diversity, equity, and inclusion should include political views––which aren’t offered protection under the DEI umbrella.
On the issue of benefits for random shit (e.g. farmer’s market shares), that does constitute projecting one’s values and priorities onto others. Pay employees fairly and let them do what they want to do with their hard-earned money.
There’s more in their blog post and it’s worth a read... but consider this before you flame the company: Have we gone too far when it comes to the role companies play in employees’ lives?
I think we have—and that we need to pull back.