I Don't Care About Your Culture March 29th, 2013
Update: March 31st, 2013
I feel that a preface for this post is in order.
The following post is a rant. It was written in response to certain attitudes and comments that I have seen on Twitter, Reddit and Hacker News in the wake of Yahoo’s great Remote Worker Deprecation Announcement. It is a collection of thoughts that I have had on the topic as it has been discussed over the past month. It is not about my current employer, it is not targeted at any prospective employer, and it is certainly not about anyone I work with, past or present.
As a rant, it contains hyperbole without restraint or context. This has lead some individuals to think I’m some kind of asshole who hates his co-workers and disregards anyone else’s opinions or feelings.
This is far from the truth, I care greatly about my co-worker’s opinions of me, and I strive to always make people happy to the best of my abilities. If I have a selfish attitude, it is in the favor of my family, particularly my wife, who will always come before my job in all things.
The targets of this rant are two particular mindsets:
- Those who view their work environment as some sort of social club, like a college house or a sports league. Those who would presume to say that someone not participating in the company’s engagements are damaging the cultural values of the organization.
- Those who think that it is impossible for someone to get work accomplished outside of an office setting.
With that said, I now present the original text.
There are several things that I want from a job, in order from most important to least:
- Interesting Challenges
- Creative Coding Opportunities
- A fair wage
- Co-Workers who know what they are doing
- Managers who know what I am doing
- Free or cheap food
Do you see what’s not on this list? You can probably guess from the title. Here’s a few examples:
- A game room
- After hours social gatherings
- Company sponsored events
- Communal “relaxation” areas (indoor or outdoor)
- Gym and/or Showers
In short, company “culture”.
I didn’t apply to your company because of your employee sport team. I wont accept your offer because I like your fooseball table. I do not work for you because I need more friends.
I am 32 years old, I have a wife and a six month old daughter. They are my culture, I don’t need yours. I’m in bed by 9pm and awake at 7am, which means that in my 9to5 weekday I already give your company more of my time than I give my family. When I agree to work for you, it is with the expectation that you will get 40 hours of my time.
I work for your company because I have a skillset that you have use for, because I have experiences that benefit my team, and because I want to be paid for those services so that I can provide for my family.
I’ve worked at three companies with recreation rooms decked out with all sorts of fun diversions, I never once used them.
My most productive setting is at a desk with a sturdy high-backed swivel chair and my laptop plugged into a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Communal areas have too many distractions, poor ergonomics, and force me to use a trackpad and laptop keyboard. I can’t work there.
If I become friends with my co-workers, it’s because I genuinely like them as people, I enjoy their company, and want to hang out with them. It was not because something about your company culture inspired me to befriend them, and it certainly wasn’t because I was forced to spend time with them.
And lets me really truly clear here, I don’t need any of those things to be a good employee, and my not wanting them doesn’t make me a bad employee or a bad co-worker. When I am on the job, I am 100% there for the company and my team, but your culture isn’t going to make me stay on the job any more than I agreed to.
Why this had to be said.
I am sick of hearing bloggers, tweeters and commenters say that remote workers are bad for a company because they hinder company culture. They are not part of your company culture, they do not need to be part of your culture, and odds are they don’t even want to be part of your company culture. This is not a bad thing. They will still be valuable to your company, they will still get their work done, and they will still make you money.
If they aren’t doing those things, it isn’t because they are remote, it’s because they are not doing their job and you should fire them.
Are your on-site employees feeling jealous because their team member gets to work from home? Too fucking bad, this isn’t elementary school. If you don’t like your working conditions then you should have negotiated for something better.
I don’t need to see my co-workers faces every hour of the working day for me to know they’re doing their job and for me to trust their skills. They shouldn’t need to see mine either. Judge me by the quality of my work, not by how much time I spend in your proximity.
If someone isn’t capable of having a distraction free environment at home, then they shouldn’t work at home. That does not mean that the other people they work with have the same problem.
This is my home office, I spend the majority of my day in this room. When I close the door, my wife knows not to bother me. The only distractions I receive come through the monitors and the phone on my desk, all of which are controllable.
I don’t have anyone walking behind me or moving in my periphery.
I don’t have anyone talking within my ear shot, I don’t have to listen to the guy in the next cube over chat about his WoW raid last night.
I don’t have people walking up from elsewhere in the office asking me questions.
I do have the ability to play any music I want as loud as I want.
I do have a bathroom and a kitchen less than ten steps away.
I am able to control how much light is in the room at any time, and what the temperature is.
I am extremely productive in this setting. For five years I have cranked out more code in this room than many people have written in their entire careers.
I am exceedingly good at my job and I am sick of being told that my lack of cultural involvement makes me a bad employee.