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Basecamp Employee Handbook
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Failed to load latest commit information. Hyphenated a compound-modifier. May 3, 2017 Bump timeframe and include Stimulus Feb 11, 2019 Update Nov 4, 2019 Update Aug 21, 2019 Update May 2, 2017 GitHub has a capital H May 2, 2017 Typo Feb 12, 2019 Update Oct 14, 2019 Number disagreement on surveys Apr 18, 2019 Update Apr 9, 2019 Changing "You've" to "You're" Aug 9, 2017 Jorge joins SIP in October 2019! Oct 30, 2019 Justin is in charge now! Sep 21, 2018 Update Jun 4, 2019 Update Aug 21, 2019 Nix link to summary table Feb 15, 2019 Create Apr 10, 2019 propose more detail to Lead and Principal levels Aug 21, 2019 Update Oct 2, 2018 Tweaks Dec 6, 2018 It's top 10% based on SF rates Apr 26, 2018 Update Nov 6, 2018 Typo Mar 20, 2018 Martin Fowler link fixed May 6, 2019 Fix typo (s/laticework/latticework) Jun 4, 2019 Fixed stipend amount Aug 1, 2017

Basecamp Employee Handbook

For over 10 years, we didn’t have a handbook. In those 10 years, when a new person joined the company, they were expected to figure things out for themselves. But when we grew from a company of 10, 20, 30 employees to a company of over 50, our “introduction by immersion” style stopped working. New hires felt lost and isolated, and their first weeks or even months on the job were stressful because of it. It can be unnerving to join any company, but perhaps Basecamp in particular, given how different some of our practices are. There’s as much to unlearn as there is to learn. Prior to this handbook, navigating that path was both somewhat random and almost entirely oral. For a company that prides itself on clarity and writing, that just wasn’t right.

So, this is where we’ll try to share what’s worth knowing about Basecamp the company, our culture, our process, and our history. It’s a guide to understanding what people are talking about when they call for “judo” (redefining a hard problem into an easy one), whether it’s okay to take your vacation when you’ve only been with us for a month (yes), what a meet-up is and why we call it an eat-up (hint: food… lots of food), and hopefully everything in-between.

This handbook also offers us an opportunity to clarify who we actually are as a company. What do we stand for? How should we work? Codifying those beliefs into a handbook makes them tangible and, most importantly, editable. Making the company our best product is a guiding principle, but we can’t easily improve what we haven’t articulated. So whatever version of this handbook you’re reading, you can be sure it’s not the last. Please do help keep it up to date! And by up to date, we're not just talking about misspellings and team changes. It’s just as much “we say we’re about X, but what we’re really doing is Y”. So many of these employee handbook projects turn out to be ideal-case prescriptions rather than real-world descriptions. They cover all the ways people should act, not the ways they actually do. That’s a sham. Let’s not write a handbook like that. Let’s keep it honest.

If you’re reading this just after joining the company, it’s particularly on you, actually. It’s harder for us slowly-boiled frogs who’ve been with Basecamp for a while to spot the broken ways. Please take advantage of that glorious, shiny ignorance of being new, and question things.


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