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Work Culture

The point

The point of 'culture' at work? Imagine an environment where people do things, not because they are forced, told to or to put food on the table, but because they love it. Ok, money is a BIG factor, and that also plays a role in culture, but when you love your work, and you respect your colleagues - nothing bad can come of it. Your productivity increases, your craft becomes well rounded, your quality increases, and you are happy (because life is also about life, not just work). Culture is everything, the smells, the feel, the flex and freedom, the smiles, the grind, the stress, the output, the food… and when a good culture is achieved, everything feels different, everythings seems better. You win, They win.

I have come across some really good stuff, and this page will be a collection of things that worked and failed, where they failed, or why they got stale. It will be a work in progress, for the foreseeable future. Companies are changing, some for the worse, but most for the better, and as we leave behind the whiplash of historic corporation-ware, one can only hope…


Workplaces differ. A nuclear laboratory probably have different rules, cultures and requirements than a development office. I really doubt everything here can be adhered to. That is NOT the point. The point is to not to follow a set of rules, and try to be cool, it is to align the mind of employee, employer, investor and family members around a culture that is productive, fun, worthwhile.


  • My own experiences at current and previous workplaces
  • The experiences and effects thereof
  • The experiences of friends and colleagues at current and previous workplaces
  • Media sources and hearsay (thing I am yet to experience)
  • Plain old hearsay (where I can see the effects as an outsider)

Do not

  • force time schedules, work hours
  • make promises that can not be maintained. Employees can remember.
  • distrust
  • disrespect
  • disregard the requirement for proper tools-of-the-trade (laptops, chairs, hammers, vehicles, or whatever the job demands use of)
  • play stupid, share information
  • monitor or track time (hire adults)
  • hire based on external political criteria, hire on fit and merit
  • skim over personal dislikes, hire varieties of cultures and people that contribute different greatness
  • hire racists, religious pushers, one-track-minded political screechers. Hire people.
  • forget to budget for things that improve personal experiences (books, more RAM, coffee machines)
  • forget to respect co-workers valuables (give them a parking garage, or a drawer for their stuff)
  • ask, all the time, if they are finished
  • goldplate
  • scope-creep
  • lie
  • bring frustration to work, your broken toaster, wife or dog is not worth the mood at work
  • join a company where you know you won't fit in
  • constrain people to open-plan offices if they can't focus or work in them
  • push people into cubicles if they need open-plan areas
  • revert to sarcasm about deadlines or gripes, confront
  • confront in public, go chat in the boardroom, like adults
  • have one-on-ones if you are insincere, it is extremely obvious, trust me
  • dangle carrots (also very obvious)
  • pick favourites, super obvious
  • suck up. Most obvious thing of all, from one person to another *wink*
  • doubt staff input, question their experience or steamroll their ideas.
  • put up with bad attitude from singletons, ego and arrogance is good for no one.
  • ignorantly avoid the fact that leaving employees are “normal”, investigate and fix.


  • provide flexible hours (but…,
  • hire adults, trustworthy adults (to prevent the need for managing, as to…,
  • lead (do not manage… it's not the same)
  • aspire to be flexible, open-plan, cubicle, beanbag, chair in the sun, let people dev where they want to dev.
  • provide ample board rooms, phone rooms and private areas for _humans_ to deal with human things
  • make time to chat to people, if you really care
  • hire smarter than you
  • compensate fairly. Market value is an onion, value to your company is a pear.
  • provide open policy on movement and freedom. If someone is away for an early lunch, he will manage his time.
  • provide choice of tools, where it makes sense, basically:
  • let co-workers choose their operatings systems, editors and keyboards.
  • give (oh lord, this is big), healthy and safe seating and desks
  • rent a building or office where the bathrooms are not a disaster zone
  • keep the office clean, tidy, smoke-free
  • pay attention to personal needs, some people are offended by pumpkins, some by insincerity
  • share feelings and grievances, in the correct medium (slack, a board-room, or friday beer)
  • show gratitude, if you mean it. (again, obvious when you don't)
  • ask, nicely, for folks to work on special time-requirements. Demanding is really bad, the taste never leaves.
  • remember that hierarchy is for 1980's corporations, respect and equality works great nowadays
  • hire senior staff without chips on their shoulders
  • hire junior staff without egos
  • give experienced staff the chance to do what they are paid for, micro-managing and doubt is toxic
  • read the valve employee handbook, happy devs come from those ideas
  • know that employees are really thankful, and appreciative of the nicer things like the awesome coffee machine and sweet biometric access system
  • hug someone frequently
  • provide personal space
  • be certain that there are always smarter and lesser people around you. This rocks growth!
  • be very realistic, in everything. Time, manners, honesty and planning.
  • allow for failure, and learn from it, grow from it.
workculture.txt · Last modified: 2017/05/24 12:06 by mbvdlza