The Mythical 17:00 Split

For PubConf, I created an ignite-style talk describing something I’ve been thinking about for a long time but only recently managed to formalise.

I don’t understand the workplace.

There, I said it. You see, part of the changes I’ve made for the last year in my life have been to heal the rift between who I am when at home and who I am when at work. I don’t understand why behaviours at work follow some rules of engagement that ought to be different from the social rules we have thousands of years of experience on.

Take working in teams. The best teams are made of people that like working together, and the worst teams I’ve had was when a developer had specific issues with me, to the point of causing a lot of tension. Thankfully, the latter rarely happen, but that will be a blog post for another day.

But what we do at work is rather different. Just imagine if, when arriving in a pub, the owner sent you to a specific table, where your new friends for the next 6 month were sitting, and you had no say in that process. It would be crazy. And yet that’s exactly what we do when we try to organise teams artificially.

Build products around people, not people around products.

I actually did some research in what a professional conduct ought to be, and i keep on reading the same things: strong ethos, learning, being dependable, dressing well, expressing oneself clearly and not saying the things that could upset people. Shouldn’t this be the same priorities in your interaction with people outside of work? Why is that being a professional any different from being a good guy to people you meet, if you can?

There are many other examples of these behaviours, from refusing to try new technologies based on thinking other people cannot learn new things, to having exactly one hour long meetings. I have my own opinion as to why we recreate new rules in companies and don’t inspire ourselves from the life we are already well accustomed to, but I’d rather hear yours in the comments and discuss there!