aetles + workplace   19

Themes: A Small Change to Product Roadmaps with Large Effects
Bruce and I were talking about product roadmaps, which describe features the team commits to ship over the next few releases. For most organizations, everything revolves around the roadmap.

Marketing uses the roadmap to plan the stories they’ll tell to entice new customers (and get existing ones to upgrade). Customer support uses it to ensure reps are trained to help with new features. And, of course, product development uses it to allocate resources and to speed future development.

It was while we were discussing roadmaps that Bruce shattered my world with a single word: Themes. Themes are an alternative for features. Instead of promising to build a specific feature, the team commits to solving a specific customer problem.
design  development  work  workplace  strategy 
4 weeks ago by Aetles
The Cool Girl Trap: Or, Why Sexism in Tech Isn’t Going Away. — Absurdist — Medium
The ‘Cool Girl’ trap is, while not the only factor, essentially one of the reasons sexism, racism, and other –isms are so pervasive in such a homogenized industry. Of the eight people that worked in that office, I was the only woman, the only Hispanic (or any non-white person), and the youngest in the office. This small sample reflects much of the industry itself — women only make up about 22% of developers. Caucasians still make up an overwhelming 79%.
When you’re surrounded by only one particular group, and they constantly remind you that you’re the outlier, you struggle to find footing in that group. You struggle to be accepted, so you sweep things under the rug. You put off articulating your real feelings because, what’s the harm in it? But you work so hard trying to get in to the inner circle that you find a hard time getting out without risking everything.
But, ultimately, you still lose everything. And you realize that you’re part of the problem. You’re part of the reason why the industry is so slow to change in its attitudes towards women and minorities. Because you never speak up.
But what choice do you have? Being the Cool Girl is how you survive.
Play the game, or lose. But you’ll probably lose anyway.
sexism  feminism  work  workplace  genderissues  women 
october 2015 by Aetles
Just Don’t Hire 0x Engineers
Their About page may say otherwise, but — drumroll, please — the average company is pretty average. Not everybody can hire exclusively top-tier people. And you know what? That’s fine. Quality of individuals is only one part of what makes an organization great. Sports is rife with examples of the nimble, well-connected team triumphing over the team of individual superstars.
business  hiring  culture  workplace  organization 
may 2015 by Aetles
To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home - HBR
The study: Nicholas Bloom and graduate student James Liang, who is also a cofounder of the Chinese travel website Ctrip, gave the staff at Ctrip’s call center the opportunity to volunteer to work from home for nine months. Half the volunteers were allowed to telecommute; the rest remained in the office as a control group. Survey responses and performance data collected at the conclusion of the study revealed that, in comparison with the employees who came into the office, the at-home workers were not only happier and less likely to quit but also more productive.
work  remote  productivity  business  workplace 
april 2015 by Aetles
The full-stack employee — Medium
What is a full stack employee?

Just as there are full-stack engineers and full-stack startups, the full-stack employee has a powerful combination of skills that make them incredibly valuable. They are adept at navigating the rapidly evolving and shifting technological landscape. They make intuitive decisions amidst information-abundance, where sparse facts mingle loosely with data-drenched opinions. Full stack employees are capable of speaking design lingo, know that using Comic Sans is criminal, and are adept at making mocks in Keynote, Sketch, or Skitch (if it comes to that). And they know the difference between UI and UX.

They can cross the aisle to talk to engineering and can make sense of algorithms, programming, and instinctively understand that scaling the backend isn’t the same as scaling the frontend. Though they may not code for production, they understand what GitHub and StackOverflow are for, and can brute force a copy-paste script to perform basic analysis on a CSV file. If they must.
work  business  workplace 
april 2015 by Aetles
At some start-ups, Friday is so casual that it’s not even a workday - The Washington Post
Carson, who is originally from Colorado, started his first company in 2004 in the U.K., thinking it would give him more freedom with his time. But he soon found himself working that same intense pace until his wife asked him why he was working more and making less. She suggested taking Fridays off.

“At first, I thought, ‘This is insane; We’ve got way too much work to do,’ ” Carson said. “But the more I thought about it, really, running your own company is about creating your own universe. So why not create a universe you’d want to live in? That’s when the idea went from stupid and crazy to, maybe we should actually do that. So we tried it one week, and never looked back.”
life  work  culture  workplace  business  family  health 
february 2015 by Aetles
Maintaining Company Culture in a Distributed World – Part 1 - Fog Creek Blog
You can imagine that, as a company famous for these values (not to mention the opportunity to work with really smart co-workers and take part in our other awesome benefits), it was never hard to find talent. Every time we posted a listing, or Joel tweeted “We’re hiring!” we’d find ourselves with an absolute flood of resumes – we weren’t complaining!

Nearly fifteen years later, however, the landscape has changed. While we still meet more talented candidates than we can reasonably hire, we’re no longer the only player in the great-place-to-work game, and competition for hiring the smartest developers has become significantly more fierce across industries and locations. Massive changes in the landscape may create panic in some companies. At Fog Creek, however, we live to solve challenging problems. Besides, we’ve overcome way worse!

And so we’ve taken this opportunity to grow and adapt to our new, more competitive environment. Our first and biggest initiative: allowing remote employees to join our ranks.
business  workplace  work  office  remote 
february 2015 by Aetles
Why We (Still) Believe in Private Offices « Blog – Stack Exchange
There was a time where it seemed like we barely even needed to talk about this: Joel had won the argument, the Internet agreed that private offices were the future, and only incompetent management (or a tight budget) was still putting developers in cubicle farms. A glorious future lay before us.

The original Fog Creek Bionic Office, way back in ye olde 2003. We
didn’t have iPhones, but at least the offices had doors.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it turned out. Open plans have been surprisingly hard to kill, despite research showing that they’re unpopular, decrease employee satisfaction, and hurt productivity. The response so far seems to have been to double down and make it, if anything, worse: cubicles are now decidedly un-cool so no-wall open offices are all the rage, and Facebook brags that its new building will be the largest open floor plan in the world, consisting of a single, ten acre open room.

The result is that today Stack Exchange is decidedly lonely if not quite alone in offering private offices to our developers (at least the half who work in the office; the other half work remotely). Suddenly we’re the ones who look a bit old-fashioned: isn’t that the old-school Microsoft approach? Doesn’t it make us less creative? How can we stay fast and agile if people keep disappearing into offices to do work?

We’re pretty sure it doesn’t do any of these things, and in fact we believe it has a lot to do with how we think about work and our developers.
management  work  office  workplace  business 
january 2015 by Aetles
Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace. - The Washington Post
These new floor plans are ideal for maximizing a company’s space while minimizing costs. Bosses love the ability to keep a closer eye on their employees, ensuring clandestine porn-watching, constant social media-browsing and unlimited personal cellphone use isn’t occupying billing hours. But employers are getting a false sense of improved productivity. A 2013 study found that many workers in open offices are frustrated by distractions that lead to poorer work performance. Nearly half of the surveyed workers in open offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem for them and more than 30 percent complained about the lack of visual privacy. Meanwhile, “ease of interaction” with colleagues — the problem that open offices profess to fix — was cited as a problem by fewer than 10 percent of workers in any type of office setting. In fact, those with private offices were least likely to identify their ability to communicate with colleagues as an issue. In a previous study, researchers concluded that “the loss of productivity due to noise distraction … was doubled in open-plan offices compared to private offices.”
health  work  workplace  business 
december 2014 by Aetles
There’s a huge hidden downside to standing desks that no one told me about - Quartz
It wasn’t fear of cancer, heart attacks, diabetes or even early death that did it. The reason I switched to a standing desk was, simply, to find a reprieve from pain. Since I graduated from college, back pain and its cruel confederates—neck, shoulder, and hip pain—have been unshakable facts of life. I’m not talking about the odd lumbar throbbing after a late night at the office; low-grade agony was pretty much a given, flaring into something more blinding a few times a month. Workday, weekend, vacation—it didn’t really matter, nor did the number of treadmill miles or chaturangas I’d banked that month.
Then in May, I read about how a standing desk helped allay a blogger’s chronic back woe. I was sold. I set my iMac on top of a small table on my home desk and put in a request for a standing desk at work. Vindication was almost instant. Within a week, my back pain started receding; a month on, and I’d almost forgotten about it. Aside from a weird hip glitch in August, the back pain is still mostly gone.
But in its place came something new. Fetching a dropped pen one day, I noticed bulbs of pinkish flesh ballooning out over my shoes, which, when removed, revealed swelling wider in girth than my feet and lower legs. Cankles, in other words.
health  desk  workplace  body 
september 2014 by Aetles
My life with a treadmill desk -- e-mail and browsing at 2 mph | Common Sense Tech - CNET News
Can you really work and walk at the same time? Columnist Danny Sullivan had his doubts. But time with a treadmill desk has made him a convert.
treadmill  treadmilldesk  workplace  health  ergonomics 
february 2014 by Aetles
A standing desk for $22
What do you want from a standing desk?

Ergonomics are pretty simple. You want your set up to look like this:

Go check out the full article on tinkering monkey. They even make standing desks.

There are really 2 parts of this: monitor height and keyboard height. The key thing is: you don’t want your monitor and keyboard to be on the same surface. You’ll get neck cramps, or cut off blood circulation to your fingers.
ikea  office  desk  ergonomics  health  workplace 
september 2012 by Aetles
Sick of sitting, tech entrepreneurs hack and sell standing desks | VentureBeat
Parked on our backsides for hours at a time, bloggers and programmers may be the worst offenders of all. It’s no surprise that standing desks are the latest craze to hit Silicon Valley and other tech hubs.

Seeking relief from back pain, some of the most pragmatic solutions to hit the market were built by tech entrepreneurs in their spare time.

One of the most popular is the Standesk 2200, hacked by Colin Nederkoorn, founder of for just $22. At the co-working offices at General Assembly in New York where he debuted the desk, word spread quickly. Soon all the cool entrepreneurs wanted one. Nederkoorn wrote on a blog post that the first users were fellow founders from hot startups like Stripe and Opani.
desk  standingdesk  health  workplace 
september 2012 by Aetles
Workers, Take Off Your Headphones - Anne Kreamer - Harvard Business Review
The image of legions of headphone-wearing employees sitting silently at their workstations, oblivious to the flesh-and-blood community around them but actively engaged with a virtual world, seems like a dystopian future envisioned in movies like Minority Report. But that future is here. A Wall Street Journal piece on the "officeless office" had a sidebar with six new rules for office etiquette which included #1, no sneaking up; #5, limit chit-chat; and #6 use headphones. That may increase a certain kind of productivity, but at what cost?

Management professors Sigal Barsade at Wharton and Hakan Ozcelik at Cal State Sacramento are among the pioneers in studying how employee isolation correlates with organizational outcomes. In a recent study, they found "because they feel more estranged and less connected to coworkers, lonelier employees will be more likely to experience a lack of belongingness at work, thus decreasing their affective commitment to their organizations." Something to think about before you decide to limit social chit-chat or put those headphones back on.
productivity  business  work  workplace  office 
may 2012 by Aetles
Taking a stand: my experience working at an elevating desk
As a professional journalist and software development hobbyist, I generally spend between eight and eighteen hours a day using a computer. This effectively keeps me chained to my desk most of the day, and sometimes late into the night. To combat the physical discomfort of prolonged computer use, I reinvented my home office environment with a focus on ergonomics.

The first thing I did was purchase a better chair—that's easily the most significant thing that you can do to make your office life better. After that, I started to look at desks. Last year, I became intrigued by the idea of a standing desk—a surface that is high enough to accommodate working from a standing position. Further research into the subject convinced me to buy a height-adjustable desk that can elevate to a standing position. After using it for most of the year, I doubt I'll ever want to go back to sitting all day.
ergonomics  workplace  desk 
september 2011 by Aetles

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