Beers or committing
Back in Barcelona we were a small team of techies and developers working on our small startup which was actually part of a much bigger network of companies with multiple hundred employees at that facility only. But as the companies were still around from the first tech-bubble only the smaller part of them were techies. The bigger part was media, sales and marketing people doing the classic nine-to-five thing. Naturally we didn’t talk to each other much.
At some point the bigger executive management realised we didn’t know each other so they made HR come up with a strategy to make us meet and talk which was called Friday-beers: Friday after work we went down to the local bar and had drinks. And it worked pretty well, aside from the fact when the bigger part of the company was quitting work on Fridays was actually the time we just got started working. Especially Fridays have been super productive at our company as no one had to get up “early” the next day.
Aside for this brief time we had to meet the others. Because then after two or three they left and our team was alone again. And as everyone else basically stopped working the afternoon and we didn’t really achieve anything yet, we often got back to the office after three or four beers and continued coding. Until we set a rule in place which was called “Beers or committing”.
Because what you write after you had a couple of drinks often is crap. Programming is a creative process that requires a lot of care, if you are not focussed on your problem while still seeing the bigger picture and impacts it could have around that, you screw up. The code itself compiles and runs but the result is just crap. But the thing is, you are not only wasting that time after your drinks. What happens on Monday mornings after is you could here these “What the f…” and “Why did I do that? What was I thinking?” for the first few hours. Because the trade-off you are doing by putting bad code in there, is that you also have to clean up.
So we enforced the rule, either beers or coding. Yes you might loose these three hours you could be working after the beers but chances are when you go back you do not only waste those but actually another two you need to clean up after yourself next Monday morning. I take this rule pretty seriously and it taught me an important lesson:
If you’d rather do something else and enjoy yourself, don’t feel guilty about it - you’d not only not be at your best when your mind is off doing something else, you’d actually waste more time on top it requires to clean up that mess. Enjoying yourself actually saves you time, you’d otherwise just sit there looking out and wishing you’d be on the beach. If you want to get things done, you’ll get them done no matter what anyways and you’d rather not be somewhere else anyways.
This rule also applies for when you are sick. Don’t go to work half-sick, you’ll screw up all the time anyways, your productivity is actually low and you feel terrible. All you do is count hours. Instead go home, get your rest and come back when you are ready to be productive again.