September 9, 2017
Author: Bianca Yang
I was so tired yesterday that I forgot to write a post, instead wasting my time cleaning out my email by reading some backlogged newsletters. I actually had my folder of posts open, waiting for another post to join the list. I’m going to make up for my incompetence and lack of discipline by writing today and tomorrow.
My early-morning internship schedule will soon come to an end, and I could not be happier for that fact. Starting the work day between 7 and 8 am slowly destroyed me with sleep deprivation, and as I worked more and more days, I started to show up later and later. I just couldn’t bear to wake up at 6:30am anymore. Eventually 7am became the new normal. Then 7:30am became the new normal because I stopped eating breakfast before work and would hastily pack some potatoes and bacon or sausage and fruit into Starbucks cups and eat them at my desk. I think it’s better for me to show up to work late and stay later than everybody else. While I do enjoy the feeling of getting off work at a time when the sun is still out and the animals are still scurrying around, I like the peace and quiet of an empty office better. I like it because when I’m in my cubicle when everybody else is around, I get nervous and anxious, thinking that every noise and rustle means someone is watching what I’m doing and passing judgement on my productivity. I am now strongly in favor of offices for everybody, preferably with windows and oriented so people are facing away from the door.
This designed is inspired by some articles on office design and posts on hackernews about people debating the merits of open-office and remote-office structures. Some companies, like stackoverflow have also committed to offices for everybody. There was a particularly good article which included a cool 3-D floor plan where offices had space for three or size people, and there were private areas for one to two people and a big space which could fit everybody for meetings and lunches and other gatherings. That was cool, but I think the private office with glass walls was probably the best.
I understand that many people feel strongly about maintaining the open stream of questions and banter and eavesdropping that comes with an open-office. But I will argue that most offices don’t need that kind of environment. Chat on Slack or Skype or whatever productivity you use if you need to give someone an impromptu tap on the shoulder. Especially for my current company, everybody’s work is so independent that we rarely ever need to speak to each other seriously about work. If your team is small and very interdependent, perhaps the three to an office structure mentioned in the above paragraph will be better. If you’re a startup without the money to give everybody an office, buy some Shoji screens and split up the space. Put in carpet to reduce noise and let everybody immerse themselves into their ideal productivity environments.
Your people are your most important assets. Do not treat them like fodder to be fed into your money-making machine. Do not spout impressive values while taking actions that clearly violate every single egalitarian, humanitarian, meritocracy supporting principle you put in some slides and on your website. Your values are determined by the decisions you make, especially by the decisions you make about the people you keep in your company.
Treat your employees with respect. Give them the resources they need to succeed. Read Radical Candor and High Output Management and Netflix’s Company Values and Ray Dalio’s Principles and figure out what matters to you.
Please leave constructive comments on this document. I read all of them. If you have other comments, send me an email: ipacifics at gmail dot com. Look at my website!