One thing I like about Netizen is the general
openness and freedom that exists
in the workplace. Generally speaking, eveyrone in the company knows (or can
know, if they ask) everything that goes on. For instance, staffing plans and
finances and sales and code and just about anything gets discussed in the weekly staff
meetings. Most of this stuff isn't (wasn't?) even kept from people outside the company,
except in the (relatively rare) case of NDA'd (ugh) projects. Sure, some things
are (were?) kept reasonably quiet, but not because we told people they had to,
just because of people using their own common sense, and the stuff that was
quiet was usually of a personal nature -- for instance, the results of job
interviews, or other peoples salaries.
The thing I like about this is not that everyone knows everything, because to
be honest not everyone needs to know everything, but that there's no need to
hide stuff, or to try and remember what you're allowed to tell to whom. The other
really good thing was that it meant we could swap notes with other people, learn
from them, and so on. I've even talked to, and got good advice (mentoring?) from the
management of our most direct competition.
The reason we started Netizen wasn't really because we were deeply committed to
open source/free software, but because we wanted to work somewhere that didn't have
so many arbitrary rules about "how things are done" and "appropriate business
behaviour" and so on (everything from leave application forms to using
Microsoft by default). Yeah, OK, there are certain things you do need to have in
place (as we learnt the hard way) but generally speaking we found that having a
casual, open work environment, a very flat org chart, and letting people just
generally do what they needed to without too much bullshit in the way, worked
well and kept us happy.
Maybe it's just that I've been listening to too much Snog and Dead Kennedeys
lately, but I'm kind of getting scared that the freedom we've enjoyed lately is
just an insignificant blip on the scale, and that Big Business will end up
winning in the end. That would suck jovian satellites through millipore.
In a fit of immaturity, I hereby declare that the company across the hall are
Evil Incarnate, and I will make a point of waving and smiling at them every time
I walk past in my studded leather and army boots.