Can you ban politics at work? This CEO just tried to

Americans have never been more in the weeds of political science than they are right now.

With an excess of high stake policy negotiations to be invested in and a wealth of time afforded by quarantine, it’s become virtually impossible to drown out all of the noise drummed up by an oppressive throng of macro-political events.

Even harder still, is keeping political ideations close to the chest. 2020 is simply too obnoxious to forgive reticence. Yet, reticence is exactly what many companies want from their employees during our indefinite crisis.

Recently,  Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong publicly announced plans to steward his staff away from social activism. More discreetly, Armstong believes that allowing space for political discussions wounds office culture and delays output. He made a case for this course of action in a piece posted on Medium.

“While I think these efforts are well-intentioned, they have the potential to destroy a lot of value at most companies, both by being a distraction and by creating internal division. We’ve seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity, and there are many smaller companies who have had their own challenges here,” Armstrong said in a release. “I believe most employees don’t want to work in these divisive environments. They want to work on a winning team that is united and making progress toward an important mission. They want to be respected at work, have a welcoming environment where they can contribute, and have growth opportunities. They want the workplace to be a refuge from the division that is increasingly present in the world.”

It’s a position that’s hard to argue against. We’re living in an intensely divisive era, wherein the decision to wear a mask during a pandemic concurrently speaks to the horse you’re backing in November. The workforce can’t weather avoidable disunion.

Eighty-three percent of Americans suffer from work-related stress, which in turn causes US firms to lose roughly $300 billion a year. The reasoning is shared between resignations, sick days, and poor-performance based terminations.

An implication of respect is understood when socializing with family and friends, irrespective of the subject. However, this isn’t always true with colleagues. In an office arena, the benefit of the doubt is often slow to respond to vulgar assertions. This is Armstrong’s defense for pushing for apolitical work culture.

By and large, this decision has been well-received among the managerial class.

“I want Coinbase to be laser-focused on achieving its mission because I believe that this is the way that we can have the biggest impact on the world. We will do this by playing like a championship team, focus on building, and being transparent about what our mission is and isn’t,” Armstrong continued.

Of course, requiring workers to be non-partisan while on the clock does not guarantee it, but it might be enough to dissuade workers who would otherwise molest their co-workers with apocalyptic talking points at the water cooler.

In truth, every person should be making a concerted effort to depoliticize the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like everyone should be making a concerted effort to engage in legislation that will set the tone for a post-pandemic world.

“Yet again, Brian Armstrong leads the way,” Y Combinator founder Paul Graham commented in response to the Medium post. “I predict most successful companies will follow Coinbase’s lead. If only because those who don’t are less likely to succeed.”