Jason Fried, co-founder/CEO of Basecamp a projects software company, released a blog post (the hyperlink on his name) that dumped a number of new policies on employees. He and co-founder CTO David Heinemeier Hansen (@DHH) have decided that employees at Basecamp are too worried about things other than work.

Following the lead of Bitcoin, they have banned all political and social communication on company communication tools. Employees are free to do that on their own time on their own social media platforms. But not employee-to-employee.

I have to back up a second to some of my past experience. I served eight years on a public school board. I learned that school administrators hate any public discussion and questioning of their decisions. They hate any feedback from teachers. Since principals are “part of the club”, it becomes career-limiting for a principal to question anything. I mentioned one time to the superintendent that I was advising a bunch of students on how to protest (thanks to my civil rights/hippie days). He blanched.

Similarly, Fried wrote that decisions wouldn’t be discussed. Live with it and go back to work.

They also did away with “paternalistic” policies. They had over time instituted policies and payments for wellness programs and the like. They will give employees a payment this year in lieu of the benefit, then it’s cut out. Maybe in future years a profit sharing plan will make up the difference. The rationale is that they don’t think the company should tell people what’s good for them–even if it is.

And, no more advisory committees. The person in charge makes the decision. Period. If they want feedback and information from anyone, they will ask for it.

Basecamp has been an employee-friendly company. These new policies require trust. They blew the trust by the way they rolled it out. Bitcoin lost a number of employees with its new policies. We’ll see how many Basecamp loses. And what the culture will evolve to. And whether Fried and DHH will write any more books about the right way to work.

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