Playground Inc. is many things. It is the space in which we work. It is us, this group of people working here. And it is a vision for how we as individuals can come together as a team to create something unique, something beyond the reach of any one person.
There is nothing accidental about any of this. We are intentional in the work that we do. We are intentional in who we do that work with. And we are intentional in how we do that work.
Our goal here at Playground Inc. is to create a space where we can be our best selves, where we can do our best work and where we can support each other in doing so. We want to nurture an empathetic, collaborative and inclusive office culture. And, with us being so very human, that takes work. Active and sustained work.
This document is intended as a guide. A reference in which to capture our vision of how we work together and a list of tools for how we, day-to-day, make that vision a reality. It is both a snapshot of our culture as well as a living document, one that will evolve with us as we grow ourselves, as individuals and as a team.
The contents of this Playbook are intended to both outline Playground’s current policies and processes and to describe how we conduct ourselves at Playground. This Playbook is not intended to create a contract or agreement between you and Playground Inc as our Playbook may change at any time as we evolve. From time to time, you may receive updated information regarding any changes in policy. We will communicate changes in writing and/or in team meetings.
If you have questions or concerns about the policies outlined here, you should contact your People Operations manager.
We believe to positively shape the future we must challenge convention at every opportunity. We believe we must foster cultures of inclusivity, compassion, exploration and creative excellence. We believe the future's form will largely be defined by digital products; created using design, technology, and most importantly our humanity. We believe that great products enhance the everyday, are meticulously crafted, toughtful, built to last, and positively impact as many people as possible. And we believe, when the opportunity presents itself, we must be prepared to do things nobody has ever done before.
Technology that makes a person larger is beautiful, technology that makes a person less is tragic. Make lives better, through what you make and how you make it. Trust people to do great work and let them do it. Build things that expand human potential and improve human lives.
Nothing is forever, everything should be challenged, and rethought, and built differently next time. Everything in the world was created by people no smarter that you or I, in many cases with less information, and without the context of the repercussions of their actions.
We want to reconfigure the stars to make tomorrow brighter. We must acknowledge that how we make people feel matters — no matter what system you’re improving. Every opportunity you have challenge yourself, try to see someone else’s perspective, don’t just treat people how you’d want to be treated, treat them how they want to be treated. You’ll probably end up doing better work because of it.
We have a lot of thoughts. About the world, how we fit into it, and how we should move through it. We’re always adding to these, so far this is what we’ve got.
We are capable of incredible things. As individuals and as a collective, embrace the endlessness of our potential.
There’s no stopping it, this is happening, we’re going forward, let's make it better for as many folx as possible.
Hold grand visions for the future but root them in the truth of now and have a rough idea of the path to then.
Trust the process, work hard, grow, but don’t burn yourself out, this thing is a marathon not a sprint.
We set our metrics around quality and impact. Don't just focus on numbers; choose to make things better for humans.
Collaboration is what made us the creatures guiding the fate of this planet, teamwork is our evolutionary superpower. Use it.
Don’t plan for obsolescence, or make things that are meant to be disposed of, make things that improve with time.
Forge a path into the unknown with your mind but also your hands, failing quickly is the fastest way to learn.
The web is a place, for people to exist together, to connect, encourage peaceful existence and connection.
All matter is stardust woven into the fabric of spacetime constantly effecting each other, eventually everything connects.
There is great value in the intangible, the immeasurable; don't be afraid to make joyful nonsense.
Invite outside opinions, seek the perimeter of your comfort zone, look at it sideways, you might like it.
In this world there are a lot of ways to sustain a human life, we’ve chosen to create to sustain ours, because we love it.
An easy way to be seen as exceptional in your craft is to do things in ways that others believe not to be reasonable.
Spend your energy expanding on ideas, adding to them, refining and propelling them forward, we can only go forward.
Never state with 16 points what could have potentially been stated with 1, or maybe 2, honestly, 3 at most.
Our Code of Conduct isn’t meant to be a list of things you shouldn’t do. Sure, that’s part of it, but that’s because sometimes things go wrong. It makes sense to be prepared. Our goal here is to capture our values, to identify the ways we want to be working together and to provide tools for making that happen. If you are reading this and find yourself feeling defensive, slow down and ask yourself why.
Intentionally or not, we are always communicating. In every word, action, tone, choice of language or whether we say or do anything at all. So let’s be deliberate. Let’s choose communication that is supportive and inclusive. Let’s spend at least as much time listening as we do speaking and let’s be honest in our words.
At the same time, we cannot assume that someone will know where we are coming from if we have not communicated with them. Express yourself and share your needs with others. If someone is expressing themselves to you or asking for something, don’t be dismissive. If you can’t be empathetic or helpful, point them to someone who can.
If you find yourself feeling frustrated or angry at a piece of feedback, take a moment to stop and truly consider what is being said. We are here to do good work and to work well with each other. We can afford to leave our egos at the door.
Some topics of discussion can be highly charged, perhaps more so to certain people over others. This does not mean there is no place for such discussion, but it does mean that you need to be considerate of others in how you have that conversation. If someone wishes to opt out of a conversation, it is on you to accommodate them.
The first rule of Playground Inc. is consent. We have consented to be here to work but that does not mean we have consented to aggression, “jokes” made at our expense, unwanted nicknames or banter, physical contact or anything else we may be uncomfortable with and have not explicitly consented to. If you are unsure whether you have someone’s consent, you need to ask and not assume.
Making jokes within earshot of someone you know (or even think) is upset by them is a violation of consent. Acting as though someone’s gender is other than what they say it is is also a violation of consent. Doing things that people feel shitty about is often a violation of consent. Doing them more than once is even more likely a violation of consent.
If you don’t want to, for example, be involved in a conversation, maybe you can say so, or maybe it’s hard. Maybe you can give some other indication that you don’t want to engage. On the one hand, if it’s hard to say so, maybe Playground Inc. could be a place to practice saying what’s real for you. Saying “no thanks”, etc. On the other hand, if your indications aren’t being heard, and this isn’t a time when you’re interested in being more direct, you can also ask for help from other folks. “They aren’t taking the hint. Will you help?”
The other first rule of Playground Inc. is no shaming. Shaming is hard to define. So we don’t define it, we listen to each other. We work to learn how our behavior affects others. There is never a need to make someone feel bad about themselves. Here are some areas you may get the opportunity to learn about:
-No smarter-than-thou or any other kind of elitism
-No harassing people
-No being mean about kids
-No homophobia or transphobia
-No fatphobia or body shaming
-No negative comments (or unwanted comments) about someone’s dress or presentation
-No (pro- or anti-) religious shaming
This is not an exhaustive list.
Here are some specific, hurtful things that have occurred at workplaces. We do not expect them to occur here at Playground Inc., but it’s important to talk about them so that we are on the same page. We also want to take positive action to prevent them. Just to be sure.
-Someone talked about a particular skillset or technology as if it were inferior, and onlookers who work in that domain felt shitty.
-Someone catcalled or made a sexualized comment about a visitor to the office space.
-Someone overheard someone else “playing a character” based on racialized stereotypes.
-Someone shamed someone else for caring about social issues or social justice.
-Someone proceeded to give someone else an uninvited shoulder rub.
-Someone started loudly talking about their sex life in the open office space.
-Someone intentionally damaged or defaced someone else’s work or property.
This is not an exhaustive list.
When someone’s hurting, there is a problem. There is no such thing as “overreacting”. There is hurting, and there is empathy.
When something’s happened and someone is hurting, our first choice is to work through it. If an officemate’s actions result in someone feeling unsafe, Playground Inc. will take the situation seriously.
You have the option of trying to speak with the person who is giving you trouble.
If you want to, you may ask your People Operations manager for support for this conversation.
If you don’t want to be involved directly in such a conversation, you may speak with your People Operations manager who can address the situation on your behalf.
Sometimes, one or both parties are either uninterested or unable to work through the problem. Sometimes, to do so might take more time than we have. To not understand why something is hurtful is okay, as long as you listen, respect and approach it with care and curiosity. Repeating hurtful behavior is not allowed, and that will result in removal from the space.
If, in the view of Playground Inc., someone is not able to follow the office rules, they will be asked to work with Scott and their manager (if applicable) to try and resolve the issue(s). It will be the responsibility of the person who has broken the rules to take corrective measures. The person(s) that may have been hurt by their actions may choose not to get involved in the resolution process. If the behaviour continues after attempts at resolution, and Playground Inc. deems it necessary, it may result in that person being asked to leave.
If someone “calls you out”, pause for a moment and take the time to hear the feedback. Listen for their experience, the feelings coming up. Consider how those emotions feel to you; notice what you have in common. Accept that something you did brought those feelings up for that person. That doesn’t mean you decide you are bad, or you were “wrong”—it means that you notice what happened, and accept it. Receive the feedback, and whatever clarifications they’re happy to provide, and then in private, mull them over. Ask friends questions, and decide for yourself what resonates with you and what doesn’t, and what actions you want to take in response.
If you see something that seems off or scary, ask how folks are doing, or approach Scott for help. We will not blow you off. We will be grateful.
This is a living document and what you are reading is a representation of where we were at the time of writing. Our intention here is for growth and collaboration. If you notice an omission or an opportunity for clarification, please do reach out to Scott. If something is unclear or you do not understand the importance or relevance of something, again, please do reach out. We are all here to learn and to grow, as individuals and as a team.
We know that in the course of our work we come across a lot of confidential information, either about Playground or our clients. We trust our team members to guard the information you have access to both during your time with Playground and for a two year period following your departure from the Company and that you will not disclose any restricted or confidential information. Confidential information includes but is not limited to: any Company proprietary information, project or client information, technical data, trade secrets or know-how, including, but not limited to, research, product plans, products, services, customer lists, markets, software, developments, inventions, processes, formulas, technology, designs, drawings, engineering, hardware configuration information, marketing, finances, internal documents or other business information or any other information deemed confidential by Playground. If you are in doubt about whether specific information can or cannot be disclosed, contact your project lead or Manager.
Please refer to our NDA for Playground’s full policy.
We are committed to ensuring a barrier-free, accessible and inclusive work environment, as outlined under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). We will accommodate team members with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship. If you require any specific accommodation because of a disability or a medical need either before you join us or after you’ve come on board, please let us know and we will support you.