CIO Briefing


At These Tech Companies, the Biggest Office Perk is Getting Rid of the Office

By Aimee Groth // Quartz // September 15, 2014


Tech behemoths and startups alike spend a fortune on creating plush offices with lots of perks. But arguably the biggest perk is allowing employees to work wherever they want, whenever they want.

This is something Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg understood a decade ago when he launched the online publishing platform WordPress. Today his global workforce of 260 still doesn’t operate with a central location (its San Francisco headquarters are nearly always close to empty.) Instead of investing money into office perks, Automattic invests that money into meet-ups for its employees.

Last year at a Lean Startup conference, Mullenweg said the following about the traditional workplace: “We have this factory model, and we think someone’s working if they show up in the morning and they’re not drunk, they don’t sleep at their desks, they leave at the right time. But that has so little to do with what you create. And we all know people who create a lot without fitting into those norms.”

Research indicates employees greatly value autonomy. This is part of what’s driving millennials to leave traditional offices and go out on their own. “It’s a cultural phenomenon,” says Alex Abelin, co-founder ...

Why So Many in the Tech Industry Struggle with Depression

By Roni Jacobson // The Atlantic // September 11, 2014


In 2011, a few months into starting Wahooly—a crowdfunding platform in which backers receive a share in the venture’s success—Dana Severson started to have bouts of debilitating anxiety. The company had started off well, but things had plateaued lately.  “You see other people getting press and doing things faster than you and it makes you second guess every single skill that you have,” he says. But Severson didn’t tell anybody about his feelings. He couldn’t, he felt, because he had to be a good leader.

“Theres a lot of money at stake in this world—it's not only the investors that you need the confidence of, it’s also your co founders and employees,” he says.  “I couldn’t allow them to have any sort of doubt in my ability to perform.”

After opening up to a friend, Severson learned that he wasn’t alone in his anxiety, or in his fear of admitting it. Seven months ago, he and developer Nick Ciske co-founded Startups Anonymous, a forum in which people in the tech industry can post questions and concerns anonymously and receive positive feedback.

So far, he says, about half of the submissions ...

Is It Worth Creating a Pay Scale for Federal Cyber Pros?

By Aliya Sternstein // September 5, 2014


Federal agencies have long struggled to fill positions in the ever-growing ranks of the cybersecurity workforce.

But a question going back to at least 2011 remains unanswered: Should the feds create a job category and salary scale for government cybersecurity workers -- or is the profession too mercurial to assign pay grades?

The Government Accountability Office thinks carving out a wage rate would help attract more talent, but the Office of Personnel Management -- the agency responsible for classifying occupations -- has yet to come up with a description.

A new GAO report notes cyber skills are a "gap" area in the federal workforce partly because the pay system, called the General Schedule, "does not have a specific classification standard for the work performed in this occupation."

Still, it's hard to box in this line of work.

In the first years of the 21st century, the cyber labor force largely consisted of system auditors and administrators who monitored compliance with security mandates. Now, fewer inspectors are needed, as machines like sensors and anti-malware scans have taken over the task. The six-figure salaries increasingly go to ethical hackers, who poke around for security holes in software and systems so they can be fixed ...

Hiring a Developer? Don’t Do These 5 Things

By Laurie Voss // Quartz // September 2, 2014

Olivier Le Moal/

You are bad at giving technical interviews. Yes, you. You’re looking for the wrong skills, hiring the wrong people, and actively screwing yourself and your company. Without changing anything about your applicant pool, you can hire different people and your company will do better and you will enjoy your job more.

I realize these are bold claims. In the ten years since I became senior enough to be asked to interview people, I have conducted a great number of technical interviews, been part of a lot of teams at companies big and small, and watched the effect that different types of hires have had on those companies. I’m not claiming to be perfect at hiring — at various points, I have done nearly all of the things wrong that I’m about to tell you not to do. But here’s what I’ve learned so far.

You are looking for the wrong things

1. Don’t hire for what they already know

The primary mistake that people make when interviewing is over-valuing present skills and under-valuing future growth. Don’t hire people for what they already know; the pool of people who do exactly the thing you need ...

Not All Teleworkers Created Equal

By Olga Khazan // The Atlantic // August 25, 2014


"How can you become a telecommuter?" asks one of a profusion of online guides on this topic. "You can start by doing your homework, creating an action plan, and being flexible." 

You can add "don't be female" to that list.

For women, there are major drawbacks to requesting to work remotely, according to a new study by Christin Munsch, a sociologist at Furman University.

Munsch had 646 people read a transcript of a fake phone conversation between an employee and a human-resources representative. The employees asked to alter their schedules for a period of six months, requesting either to work from home two days per week or to come in early and leave early three days per week. Perhaps unsurprisingly—given what we know about women and likability—this went over better when the worker was a man.

From the study release:

Among those who read the scenario in which a man requested to work from home for childcare related reasons, 69.7 percent said they would be "likely" or "very likely" to approve the request, compared to 56.7 percent of those who read the scenario in which a woman made the request. Almost a quarter—24.3 ...