Work Rules: 25 Ways to Design a Healthy Workplace

A company is a product. Focus on building the company as much as you focus on building the business.

If you are stressed at work, you are stressed at home. You build a company to enjoy freedom and independence, not to add stress. Stress from your professional life bleeds into your personal life, and affects your family and friends. Avoid stress at all costs.

Good companies are supporters of families. Good companies are neither sports teams nor families. Good companies provide a healthy work environment so that when people go home, they can be the best wife, husband, parent, sibling, child, and friend.

Workaholism is contagious. It promises short-term results with long-term side-effects. Don’t encourage it. Don’t practice it. Don’t spread it.

Exhaustion is not a badge of honour. It’s a mark of stupidity. You don’t live to work. Sleep, nutrition, and mental and physical fitness are more important than work.

Work should decrease with time. With time, you should get more done by having less to do. If you have nothing worth doing at some point, don’t do something that’s not worth doing.

A company doesn’t have to be great at everything. Knowing where to be good enough is what gives you the opportunity to be excellent where you need to be.

Say No more than Yes. When you say No now, you can come back and say Yes later. If you say Yes now, you cannot say No later.

Ask if something should be done. There’s always something amazing that could be done, but doesn’t need to be done.

Business goals are artificial. They are set for the sake of setting targets. The intrinsic goals of all businesses are: to not go bust, serve customers well, and be a delightful place to work. Other goals are fake. They introduce stress.

Roadmaps are guesses. You have no idea what the world will look like in six months. Treat future plans as guesses, not roadmaps.

Use constraints to pick work. If you can’t fit everything you want to do within 40 hours a week, get better at picking what to do. Deadlines can be fixed, but scope of work should be flexible.

Not every idea is a eureka moment. Sleep on ideas. Resist the urge to ask immediately. No question is that pressing. You’ll wake up the next day to see what was the world’s best idea yesterday doesn’t seem quite as important now. Everything can wait. Everything should.

Meetings should be the last resort. Any meeting that serves only the leader is a waste of time. A one hour status update meeting with 10 people is a 10 hour meeting. If meetings should happen, limit them to 3 people.

Communication should be asynchronous. Synchronous conversations such as chat promotes quick responses instead of thoughtful discussions. How fast you can reach someone has nothing to do with how quickly they need to get back to you. The constant pressure to be “Available” to reply breeds anxiety. More work gets done when you are “Away”.

People don’t listen to the leader, they emulate them. A leader who practices workaholism, sleeplessness, and self-sacrifice promotes the same and demands the same.

Benefits should help people put their lives ahead of work, not the other way around. Free dinner is not a benefit. It’s a ploy to make people work longer hours. A compulsory vacation every year is a benefit.

The purpose of a vacation is to get away—both physically and mentally. People should unplug completely. A company doesn’t collapse if few people are away for a while.

The office is a library. The office should be a calm and serene place to get work done, not an open space full of distraction. Apply library rules in your office.

If it’s important, slow down. Decisions taken in hurry have longterm side-effects. Haste makes waste.

Choose considered feedback over impulsive reactions. Take your time to gather and share your thoughts on ideas presented by others—just like the people who pitched the ideas took their time to gather their thoughts before sharing. This leads to deep discussions.

Culture is what culture does. Find the values that won’t change in the next 5, 10, 20 years, and put them into practice today—not later. A company doesn’t have a culture. A company is a culture.

Good decisions don’t need consensus. Decisions need commitment, not agreement. Trying to get everyone agree begets reluctant acceptance that masks secret resentment.

Don’t be reckless with risks. A smart bet is the one where you can play the game over and over again without burning out.

Focus on profit. Profit gives you the time to think, and the space to explore. Profit gives you control of your own destiny and schedule.

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