The Evolution of OSI as a Workplace

Part of our big growth year at OSI has been on the back end. One piece of that is thinking about our organization as a workplace and what it’s like to work here.  We want to be a positive and healthy place to work. A place where folks can succeed without burning out, especially since we hope the next few years are likely to see us transitioning from one full-time person to two or even three full-time staffers. 

The OSI Board has been shedding its involvement in day-to-day activities and becoming more of a visioning board. Non-profit organizations need to be able to respond quickly to new opportunities and to occasionally put out fires, which doesn’t work so well if minor tasks must always be referred back up to a volunteer board, all of whom have many, many other responsibilities. So over the last year, we have been laying the groundwork for an efficient staff-driven organization that is empowered to do whatever needs doing in their day-to-day work. The Board’s job is to collaborate on the vision, act as a resource for staff and as ambassadors to the wider community. 
Our first and foundational move in this direction is working out staff policies. We had previously been doing a sort of “take what you need” policy for time off. This can be ok for the right single staffer, but crumbles once you have multiple people. “What you need” won’t match “what a co-worker needs” and without clear expectations, many workplaces with these kinds of policies fall into a “you better *really* need it or you better be here.” This is not the hallmark of healthy, sustainable workplace. So, we’ve instituted four weeks of PTO, fourteen holidays and the idea of “comp time” where when you work a full or partial day on a weekend, you take some time off in the next week or so, to compensate (hence the name.)  We’re also writing up an employee handbook and working on other internal documentation for employees.
OSI is still a bit small to set up a healthcare plan — just one full-time employee — but we will be offering our new Executive Director a generous stipend to obtain medical insurance for themsleves. By the time we are ready to hire a second and third full time person, we plan to be able to offer a health care plan instead of a stipend. (Assuming the US has not moved to single-payer by then… )
We have also made the decision to pay our new Executive Director competitively (starting at $150K/year) and to tell people what we’re offering. It isn’t fair to applicants when potential employers ask for “salary requirements” or keep the salary range a secret until the end of the process. These kinds of tactics end up exploiting people from disadvantaged groups who possibly haven’t ever really been paid what they’re worth. OSI believes in transparency for computer users and we’ve decided to treat people in the community who are interested in working with us with the same respect.
Finally, our board and the wider community are aligned in our feeling that diversity is a strength as we look to shaping the next phase of open source development. OSI’s board is ready to spend more time or more money to do things the right way, whether that means working with employees to be flexible or taking the time to do events in a way that is truly welcoming and accessible to all participants. We enthusiastically welcome members of historically under-represented groups to apply for this role. If all of that sounds good to you and you’re in the market for an Executive Director role, head over here and apply soon