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Valve staff handbook suggests an intriguing workplace

Valve Software's new employee handbook suggests an unusual workplace.

Video game developer Valve Software behind such titles as Half-Life, Left 4 Dead and Portal has had its staff handbook leaked and it indicates a very interesting and perhaps daunting work environment.

The 56-page welcome book, which was initially posted on, suggests a very creative and open working environment.

"A fearless adventure in knowing what to do when no one’s there telling you what to do," the manual reads ahead of its table of contents. The statement sums it all up quite well.

All employees at the Valve office have desks on wheels, and they are encouraged to unplug their computer and move somewhere else to find the part of the building and colleagues that fit them best.

This is part of what the company calls "Flatland", a system where hierarchy does not exist, there are no managers and no one has to report to anyone else. Everyone has the power to start projects and ship their own products, guide themselves away from risks and towards vital opportunities.

"If you’re thinking to yourself, 'wow, that sounds like a lot of responsibility,' you’re right. And that’s why hiring is the single most important thing you will ever do at Valve," the handbook says.

The daunting process requires new employees to pick any project to work on. The more promising ones fill up early and even require internal recruitment processes in order to get the right talent.

An individual's salary, or "compensation", is adjusted over time based on a peer-driven valuation system that assesses a person's worth to the developer.

Overtime is also a concept that company rejects, which is particularly interesting in an industry fraught with extra work close to any given title's release. Instead, they see it as a sign that something has gone wrong in terms of planning or communication, which means corrections must be made.

The handbook does concede that this egalitarian way of running the business does have its shortfalls. New people often find integration difficult, there isn't an effective internal communication system and employees often fear for their career progression as there are no set job titles.

If you think you can handle this unconventional working environment at Valve, the firm has a number of vacancies waiting to be filled. If you apply promptly you may get the nod in time for the company vacation, where all the employees and families fly off to somewhere tropical to let their hair down.ADNFCR-1220-ID-801351306-ADNFCR