Full-Stack Dystopia: What the Future of Work Should Not Be

Work is like gas — it will expand until it fills all the available space. Do not the new shiny tools convince you that you should let that happen.

Full-Stack Dystopia: What the Future of Work Should Not Be

A while ago, Chris  Messina has posted the “Full stack employee” piece on Medium. A  full-stack employee is supposed to be someone who can do everything but  is especially knowledgeable in one of his disciplines. Since I've been  big on hiring and remote culture, let me take a couple of points of  Chris and get a couple of my own thoughts in.

Full stack employees have an insatiable appetite for new ideas, best practices, and ways to be more productive and happy.

This is what I called a hacker mindset before and I believe it is a  good thing. For a while, we've been looking for people like that for  Lifetramp. From my experience though, finding them is relatively hard,  and finding ones that also believe in your idea is almost impossible,  which makes the whole idea really hard to scale.

This is where Chris's post stops making sense. Let me quote something from a bit further down in the article:

And since much of their work involves slicing through thick  ambiguity — they’re given to radical clarity in certain lifestyle  choices, from adopting monolithic, monochromatic wardrobes to functional  culinary choices:

Non-ironically mentioning wearing monochromatic warderobe a'la Steve Jobs (hint: That turtleneck is choking you)  and Soylent in one sentence is where it all goes wrong. If you're so  busy you don't have time or will to enjoy a normal dinner or dress in  the morning, you've probably gone off rails.

the boundaries between work and non-work blur, creating an implicit  expectation that there’s never a time too late for a Slack chat or  Google Hangout.

If you're allowing this to happen in your life, you've clearly  failed. You've got sold on the dystopian version of remote work, being  always-on and being expected to always be working. You're the Microsoft  ad guy, checking your Slack instead of spending quality time with your  kids or significant other. You need to snap out of this. Go read up on  how the guys at Basecamp do it.

First thing that I learned the hard way about remote work is setting  boundaries. Create overlap time and set meetings so the team can work  with you, but make sure you don't lose out on life. It's easy to just  fall into the always-on mode and eventually get burned out. Been there,  done that. 2/10, not recommended.

What instead?

Well, the easiest (and the most unpopular way between 30-somethings  from Silicon Valley) would be to stick to the 9-to-5. It was created for  a reason. While it seems very rigid, it makes a lot of sense for a lot  of people, especially if you have a family and kids. You clock off at  5pm and you go home. You don't answer your emails, you leave your mobile  on your desk.

If you're one of those crazy entrepreneurship-driven (noticed how  this is turning into a dirty word recently?) millenials and you want  much more control over your life, schedule. Set expectations clearly or  face imminent burnout. Work when you feel like it, but make sure you're  not taking on more than you can handle. Have set meetings with your team  to catch up to make sure nobody comes along with a 3am Hangout  expecting you to be there. There's only so long you can go on Soylent  and monochromatic wardrobe choices before you just want to punch someone  in the face and go have a burger and a beer. Or just do whatever makes  you happy — optimize for yourself, not others.

Ending with a Steve Jobs Stanford's graduation speech, that the  30-something year old unicorns of Silicon Valley overuse all the time,  “your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” If  you're thinking about going remote to be that “full stack” person  available around the clock, doing the work of the entire team, don't.