Divide by Zero

The Office

Hi, my name’s Matthew and I’m not a workaholic. Our industry has a problem. It expects us to spend too long on our asses in jobs that can sometimes take as little time as an hour in a week to achieve. It expects us to follow a corporate standard because a CXO is scared that if you aren’t there you aren’t working. The truth is I never stop working. I solve problems in my sleep, in the shower, whilst watching movies.

On top of this we’re expected to spend a sizable chunk of our free time learning and contributing to open source. When I’m forced to sit in an office for nine hours a day using a computer upon which the company has full rights to anything I create, plus commute time, there’s very little time in my life for that. I do try, but I don’t have the time in my life to commit to a real project, despite desperately wanting to.

We need to spend less time in the office. We need to start varying our collective commute times. We need to be able to run errands, tidy up, look after ourselves and our mental wellbeing, because all of these things produce a more productive employee.

And especially: we need to be able to just go home when there isn’t much going on. Too many times I’ve spent several weeks going to work getting no more than 10-15 minutes of work done a day, because I’m blocked on decisions or stuck or even just because I’m bored of what I’m doing in that moment.

It’s often the case that my most productive weeks are the ones where I only worked for two or three days. I’m refreshed, focused, and I’ve given the problem some thought both consciously and subconsciously.

Of course, this takes trust. But if you don’t trust your employees then you’re doing it wrong. You should hire people you trust so you can give them responsibility and free yourself of many tasks. I’m pulling this bit out of my ass a little, but hiring two people you can trust with the above benefit will be both more productive and cheaper than hiring ten people you don’t. With those ten people you will be stretching yourself thin because you’ll be micromanaging; you’ll be making all the decisions and won’t be able to get back to your employees quickly, and you’ll be reviewing their work. With two trusted employees you will be able to share the load and will end up with a largely self-managing team that doesn’t overly rely on your decisions.

So get out there and seek the employees you deserve! Seek the ones who, when given the option of working when they want, will produce great products and actually care about their team, their company, and you.

Written by Matthew Hotchen on