While you're at Octopus, you'll probably work from home a lot. To be productive, you're going to need a few essential things:
A fast, capable computer
A headset (so you can hear us) and a microphone (so we can hear you) for video calls
A desk and chair designed for office work (the kitchen table or couch do not count)
A solid internet connection
Not required, but strongly recommended:
An external monitor, keyboard, and mouse
To enable this, we have a number of programs available.
When you start, Octopus will provide a laptop of your choosing, with a generous budget. Your manager will introduce you to Claudia from Finance, who will provide you with guidelines on how to go about the process. It will be delivered to you, and you'll set everything up. If you're not sure how to set it up or have trouble, your manager can pair you with somebody from Operations who will help. Your laptop can be replaced every two years.
When you order your laptop, there's also a budget for other peripherals - headsets, mice, and so on. This should cover most of what you need when you first start.
Octopus also provides a Home Office Allowance program, in which we match 50% of what you spend on eligible home office equipment in a year, up to a cap of $1500 AUD (or equivalent in other countries - more details in the link below).
We pay 50% as a way of giving you the flexibility to choose what works best for you, whilst balancing the need to spend the company's money wisely. The intent behind this is to say that if you think you need a new top of the line Aeron office chair, or a standing desk, or a desktop computer or noise-canceling headset, Octopus will pay for half of it.
Ultimately, if you don't have a solid internet connection, a workable home office environment, and a working laptop and headset, you're going to have a hard time contributing at Octopus or doing the best work of your life. Our programs help, but ultimately it's up to you to find a solution.
For example, if your home internet connection is unstable, and your Zoom calls drop out, we expect you to find a solution. We can help or make suggestions - such as finding a different place to work from (see Where You Work). If you've moved to a new home and it turns out the best internet you can get is dialup, well, tough. Don't work from home. Attempting to is only letting your teammates down.
You also have an obligation to make sure that the place you choose to work from is safe. We're not going to send inspectors to your home to check that you've replaced your fire alarm batteries or that you're not writing code from your bathtub. If it's not safe, or you're concerned about your safety, find a different location to work from.
As much as we try to work asynchronously, people at Octopus spend a lot of time in Zoom calls talking to each other. As such, the quality of your audio - how clearly you can hear us, and how clearly we can hear you - makes a tremendous difference in not only your quality of life but everyone you meet with.
Imagine being in a meeting in person in an office, but Joe decided to wear earmuffs today and can't hear you, and Sarah only talks in a whisper so nobody can hear her, and Jules makes loud jackhammer noises every 14 seconds. You'd say that's unprofessional, right? But that's how people experience it when you join a Zoom call without good audio.
When people have to concentrate really hard just to hear you, they aren't going to be able to understand and process everything you're saying, or they'll tune out, and you'll ultimately be less effective. You owe it to your teammates to bring good audio to every meeting.
We're not saying you need top-of-the-line podcasting equipment by the way; just as we're not saying that to meet in person you need perfect elocution. You just need a decent microphone and headset that works. Laptop speakers and webcam microphones probably won't cut it. Make use of the programs above to find a solution.
If you spend the next 5 years working at Octopus hunched over a kitchen table squinting at your laptop screen, struggling to hear through your laptop speakers, or not being invited to Zoom calls because your sound quality is so bad, you're going to have a bad time. You'll be less likely to progress in your career or to make the most of your time at Octopus.
While Octopus makes the programs above available, we also expect you to invest in yourself a bit. Everybody at Octopus is paid well, and far above the living wage. Consider how much money you save on bus or train tickets or lunches out by working from home, and consider reinvesting just some of that into yourself and your home office setup.
Scott Hanselman makes a good case for treating your back, brain, computer, and chair as investments.
We can't give you tax advice, but you can probably find someone local who will. Ask them about whether there are ways to invest in your home office that are tax effective.
The Laptop and Home Office allowance programs exist to serve a purpose for the company. They're often seen as a perk, and they are. But the perk isn't their primary purpose. Nobody ever started a company just to decide what gadgets should be covered under a program, and administering these programs can be quite a headache. Try to stick to the intent of the program, and spend Octopus's money (and time!) wisely.
🙋♂️ Why don't you have a program for XYZ?
We could make the programs above more generous, or add extra programs for other things. Maybe we could offer gym memberships or yoga retreats. But ultimately, your salary and the budget for these programs all come out of the same pool of money.
If you think Octopus should have a program where we pay for your home internet, you're of course welcome to re-allocate that part of your salary to your home internet. Our preference is for most of our "people costs" to go to salaries, not perks that only a few people really use, and leave you free to spend your own money.