Basecamp bans political discussions at work, ends fitness benefits

  • The CEO of Basecamp wrote that social chats have become a “major distraction.”
  • It also banned fitness benefits and internal committees.
  • Critics say the policy could hamper diversity efforts, but Basecamp told Insider his DCI work will continue.

Jason Fried, co-founder and CEO of productivity software company Basecamp announced Monday that it banned “societal and political discussions” at work, ended “paternalistic benefits” like wellness and fitness, and made a host of other controversial political changes.

The announcement sparked widespread condemnation from other players in the tech industry on social networks.

Fried explained that social chats have become a “major distraction” and “redirect our dialogue to dark places.”

But Fried didn’t stop there. Basecamp plans to end peer performance reviews, internal committees and, instead of wellness allowances and fitness benefits, the company will pay employees the full cash value of those benefits this time. year.

“What you do outside of work is none of our business, and it’s not up to Basecamp to encourage certain behaviors,” he wrote in an article explaining why the company was ending such benefits.

In a following Fried’s postDavid Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder and chief technology officer of Basecamp, said the company will continue to discuss policy issues closely related to its business. For example, Hansson was outspoken on Twitter on Apple’s policies for approving applications in its App Store and a testified before Congress on the subject.

As for other issues, Hansson said employees should feel free to engage in activism, but not in the office.

“Bring all your political advocacy into all the personal spaces you have,” he wrote. “Do not integrate it into the internal communication platforms that we use for work, unless it is directly related to our company. “

Fried told Insider that Basecamp remains committed to its work on diversity, equity and inclusion, which will continue under the leadership of its head of people operations, Andrea LaRowe. In the past he wrote about Basecamp’s efforts to increase racial and gender diversity within the company by revising the language of its job descriptions and posting its vacancies on sites aimed at groups under-represented in technology.

Some observers said they agreed that ignoring political discussions created better working environments.

“This generation seems convinced that everything is political and that life is a question of politics”, wrote Josh Lewis, freelance web engineer, on Twitter. “It isn’t. It never has been. It’s an unhealthy mentality and addiction.”

Basecamp has a precedent for this type of ban. Last year Coinbase made waves when CEO Brian Armstrong also banned social chats at work. Coinbase offered employees who disagreed with this position severance packages, and 60 employees accepted the offer. The ban ultimately did not hamper its business prospects. It has become public earlier this month, briefly hitting a valuation of $ 100 billion.

Still others have suggested that having to remain silent on such matters is a burden on groups such as racial minorities and LGBTQ communities. A policy like Basecamp’s, some argue, could hamper efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion – an area that has long been a weakness for the tech industry.

“I don’t know how you can keep working with DCI without being able to talk about politics,” Alex Estrada Cline, senior product designer at Help Scout, wrote on Twitter in a discussion of the new Basecamp policy.

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