A couple of years ago, I wrote a post for developer.bring.com — inspired by the team at Government Digital Service (GDS) and their list on: It’s ok to say what’s ok 🙌

Maybe it would be helpful to spell out this unofficial stuff up front, on day 1. Maybe we just need to say what’s ok. To be explicit about the things that those of us who have been here a few years take for granted. So our team wrote a list of things it’s ok to do at GDS.


This is the list I wrote. 💖

It’s okay to…

  • say “I don’t understand”
  • never have heard about something
  • ask questions all the time
  • question everything
  • ask for advice and feedback
  • depend on your team
  • not ask permission
  • wear shorts to the office
  • or a hoodie, skirt, shirt or sari
  • put people before code
  • eat all the bananas when the fruit arrives
  • have no idea what you’re doing and try anyway
  • get lost down rabbit holes
  • use work hours to read and learn
  • experiment
  • give up and try again later (or not)
  • work from home
  • disagree and say so (publicly or privately)
  • make glorious mistakes
  • learn from those mistakes
  • share what your learn
  • skip meetings
  • talk out loud about ideas and problems
  • ask people to lower their voices
  • or to move the discussion out from the landscape
  • need a break
  • be upset and ask for support
  • care more about co-workers than corporations
  • challenge code, ideas and culture
  • change your mind
  • think out loud
  • not read everything on slack
  • have your lunch break in the canteen
  • start lunch train slackbots
  • prefer to enjoy lunch in solitude
  • share your ideas (out loud! or in writing!)
  • say no if you are busy
  • log off slack and email
  • put headphones on to focus
  • hide away in a quiet room
  • not work at all when you are sick
  • wait till next week
  • deploy tomorrow instead
  • bring sweets or cake to the office

A couple of them feel like wishful thinking today, but this is still some of my favourite writing.