Why your dream job might not be what you think it is

Being treated like an adult is way better than having a beer fridge

Nathan Tesler
Jan 29, 2018 · 6 min read

Lots of “cutting-edge” and “progressive” companies like to brag about all the cool stuff you get working for them. Beer fridges, foosball tables, an Xbox, an office barista.

What they don’t mention on the job ad is the toxic culture of mistrust: the fact that your boss looks at their watch when you walk in, that you suspect your colleague makes $10k more than you for no reason, and that you haven’t been able to take a holiday for 6 months now because “we’re too busy”.

Watch out for perks. They’re often used as a decoy by companies to look good, while masking a culture of bullshit.

bullshit, n. — something which is stupid, untrue or deceitful

We’re trying to build a company that makes sense in 2018, which means facing down a lot of bullshit ideas that haven’t changed since the Industrial Revolution.

Here we’ve compiled a list of some of the worst examples of workplace bullshit we’ve encountered and how we’re trying to do things differently.

Work hours are bullshit

While it makes sense for a factory worker to count their hours, for coders, designers, writers and creatives, how long you work does not equal how much work you get done.

How many times have you spent a week working on a problem to no avail, and then suddenly solved it in the shower? Either we have to pay you to take showers, or we throw out the idea of work hours entirely.

We just don’t care what time people get to the office, or how long they stay there. I’m not your mum—as long as your work’s getting done, you can structure your days however you like.

We don’t care how long your ass spends in your chair

9am is bullshit

At Wildcard, sleep is your #1 KPI. Nothing determines your physical and mental health (and therefore your productivity at work!) like getting a full night’s sleep.

If you like to wake up early and go for a surf or a swim, go for it. If you work best at 10 at night, you can do that too. People have a million different circadian rhythms and lifestyles. The idea of 9am shoehorns the entire population into one of them.

Some “progressive” companies gloat about letting you show up at 9:30am, which we find really funny. Shifting your work day by 30 minutes is not progressive. Progressive is trusting your employees to be adults and manage their own time.

Image for post
Image for post
The alarm app on my phone

5pm is bullshit

Part of having flexible work hours is making sure you’re working smart, not hard. If you’ve finished your work for the day and it’s only 3pm—go to the beach! Or read a book. Or have a nap and save that energy for tomorrow. Don’t waste two hours on Facebook because you feel guilty about leaving early.

You’re not a serf, and this is not the 15th century

“Leave allowances” are bullshit

Under serfdom, a worker couldn’t leave their land without permission from their lord. Needing permission to take leave, and only having a small allowance for the year—that doesn’t feel right to us.

Part of what we’re trying to achieve with Wildcard is to help people feel financially free and travel more. What good is earning money if you can’t take time to actually enjoy it?

So, on top of what you’re entitled to by law, if you want to take extra time, just do it. All you need to do is make sure your absence isn’t too disruptive to the people who work with you. Again, as long as your work is getting done, taking some time off here and there usually improves your productivity.

Limited sick leave is bullshit

Limiting how much sick leave people can take is counterproductive. People often come into the office when they’re sick because they haven’t accrued enough leave or they don’t want to waste it. Then they make themselves feel worse and make everyone else sick.

It’s also discriminatory to people with chronic illnesses who might need more than the standard allowance, and it penalises people who aren’t sick or who don’t chuck sickies. Nobody wins. Just don’t come to work when you’re sick. Easy.

Side note on mental health: there’s a cultural narrative that having a cough is a valid reason to take a day off, but experiencing depression is not. We believe that issues with your mental health can be as serious (if not more serious) than issues with your physical health, and we encourage people to take time off for mental health reasons if they need to.

Limited compassionate leave is bullshit

My co-founder’s mum is sick. Australian law says he was entitled to two days “compassionate leave” when she fell ill. Two. Days.

Instead, he’s decided to work from home one day a week, so he can look after her. That sounds much more compassionate to me. If you’ve got extraordinary circumstances, you should be able to trust your company to support you.

We’re not a big company, and we shouldn’t be run like one

Job titles are bullshit

We hire people for skills, not job titles. Smart people don’t fit into boxes: we might have hired you because you can write code, but that doesn’t mean you’re chained to that skill. Maybe you’re interested in product management, or growth. Why wouldn’t we let you contribute?

Job titles also create a false hierarchy, where people are given power based on what’s on their LinkedIn profile, not merit. That’s a surefire way to add politics to your company and make sure you don’t do good work.

KPIs are bullshit

Handing people a list of KPIs and telling them to achieve them is a very old-school way of doing things. Again and again, modern research into work and motivation shows that intrinsic motivation is far more powerful that carrot-and-stick approaches.

You’re a smart, sensible adult. You know better than anyone what you’re capable of, and what you’re not. You’re the best person to set your own goals, and your peers will measure you based on how well you achieve those goals. End of story.

Secret salaries are bullshit

We’re trying to create a culture without secrecy, and salaries are no exception. That’s why we’ve created a spreadsheet available to everyone in the company where you can see all the company’s financials: including salaries.

Why? One of the big drivers for us is trying to create a culture of pay equality. It’s much harder for people to get away with getting overpaid if their salaries are transparent—and much easier for people getting underpaid to negotiate.

I’m not an expert on the gender pay gap, and people much smarter than me have written about why ending pay secrecy is crucial to closing the pay gap.

Our fundamental belief is that a company is its people. What’s good for its people is good for the company.

Our modern work culture says employees need to be told exactly what to do.

  • They need to be given work hours, or they’ll just slack off.
  • They need to be given KPIs, or nothing will get done.
  • They need to be given a leave allowance, or they’ll just never show up.

In other words, employees are like children, and companies are like schools. If the teachers don’t lay down the law, the kids will run amok.

If you hate your job, it’s probably because your boss thinks this way.

Watch out for companies that pretend to be progressive on the surface, but are deeply regressive on the inside. When you’re looking for a job, focus on whether a company treats its staff like adults, not on whether there’s a beer fridge.

Want to help us build a progressive company? We’re hiring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Won’t people abuse this?

Most likely! And if they do, they’ll be fired. The same way you’d be fired for abusing trust at any workplace.

Do you actually get anything done?

Take a look for yourself! We just launched an alternative to your transaction account.

Did you come up with these ideas?

Nope. We’ve drawn inspiration from places like the Valve Handbook, Basecamp, Ricardo Semler and Reinventing Organisations.

How can I learn more?

Read the resources above, or just follow our publication. We’ll be posting about these topics and future experiments here as well.

What’s wrong with beer fridges?

Nothing—we’ve actually got one. We also have wine. No foosball table though, sorry!

My job sucks. Can I work with you guys?

Please! Check out what skills we’re hiring for.


Get paid every day

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight.

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox.

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month.

Get the Medium app