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Changes at Basecamp

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Basecamp—makers of project management, team communication and email software—have taken a controversial new stance against (amongst other things) political discussion at work, “paternalistic benefits” and 360 performance reviews.

These are difficult enough waters to navigate in life, but significantly more so at work. It's become too much. It's a major distraction. It saps our energy, and redirects our dialog towards dark places. It's not healthy, it hasn't served us well.

On the surface I can see the appeal of “keeping it simple” in the modern workplace where so many different things vie for our attention. However the move to “silence conversation” feels out of step with a moment when—as a society—we’re trying hard to correct institutional, longstanding inequalities. Perhaps the channels where political/societal discourse can happen need better demarcated and the “house rules” properly set. But especially after the year we’ve just had it also feels wrong to take a dictatorial approach toward staff.

It seems that many departing employees feel the same way.

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