Weeknotes 15: not selling up
I started doing some contracting with TidyHQ this week. TidyHQ is software which helps sporting and community groups manage their organisation’s administration. So far I’ve been getting my head around the codebase, getting to know the team, and learning about their existing practises. I worked on a few bugs to gain some exposure, but next week we’re planning to get stuck into a bigger chunk of work.
I’ve been particularly enjoying Kai’s intros in Dense Discovery recently – if you’re not subscribed, I recommend it.
In this week’s issue he talks about the ethical case for working less and links to an article based on a new report called The Ecological Limits of Work.
Aside from the ecological benefits, I’m pretty sure most people would be healthier, happier and less stressed out by working less. I’d love to see what creativity and joy that could unleash. In a world where working at least 5 days per week is the norm, it’s easy to forget that this is not in fact some law of physics, but a socially constructed rule.
A long time ago, in the summer before I started university, I had a summer job at Oxfordshire-based digital agency Torchbox. I lived a little way away in Berkshire, and Olly, one of the directors, suggested that we car share from his house which was on my route. Over many journeys we talked a lot about climate change and he really opened my eyes to the problem, which has shaped a lot of my decision making since then. At Torchbox I met Jamie, who later invited me to become Tech Director at a fledgling Loco2, where we tried to help people reduce their impact by making it easy to take trains instead of planes.
All of this is quite a long-winded way of saying that I feel like Torchbox was the seed of a lot of things in my life! So I was delighted to read that they’re not selling up this morning. A brilliant decision that I’m sure will bring a lot more satisfaction than the alternative.
Tomorrow, on Employee Ownership Day 2019, we are handing over the ownership of Torchbox to its employees. They’ll pay us, and the other original shareholders, not from their own money but from the company’s future profits, over the next four or five years. We’ll continue to push Torchbox forward, doing the jobs we love until then, and perhaps much longer, if they’ll let us. They’ve elected a board of employee trustees who will oversee our work, and who have ultimate control over the business. When they’ve paid off the original sellers they can decide to distribute all the profits between themselves, or give it to charity, or invest in something new, or work four day weeks, or whatever they decide.
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