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

By Nathan Tesler

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.

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.