Retiring the traditional 40 hour work week:

Designing a compensation model for the 21st century.

Derek Laventure

Land Back!

I am in Kjipuktuk (Halifax) in Mi’kma’ki, ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People.

I offer respect and gratitude to the people who are past, present and future caretakers of this land.

Where are you?

Who am I?

Derek Laventure (he/they)

Portrait of Derek, white face with broad smile and glasses.
  • White middle-class able-bodied (gender)queer settler
  • BSc Computer Science
    (University of Toronto 2000)
  • 20+ years of Drupal (
  • Founding partner of Consensus
  • Tai Chi student and instructor


I want to thank…

Chapter 0: What are we talking about?

Chapter 1: In the beginning…

Consensus Founders

4 senior technology professionals working together.

Our primary goal: make a living to support our families.

Beyond that: we had.. ambitions ;)

4 Years on…

Shared Worldview

  • Truth matters.
  • People come first.
  • We are mission- and values-driven.
  • Nothing is written in stone.
  • A group is more than the sum of its parts.
  • Information wants to be free but privacy must be respected.

Consensus Values:

  1. Trust and respect
  2. Everyone's voice
  3. Professional maturity
  4. Positive impact
  5. Solidarity


Consensus Circle Structure

Chapter 2: Becoming Employees

Going on Salary

Retaining flexibility

Chapter 3:

Quarterly salary adjustments

The big idea: calculate our paycheque based on how much we worked in the previous 3 month period. Use our average weekly schedule over that period to calculate how much we get paid for the current 3 months.


  • Accommodate workers who can’t/won’t do 40h/week (ie. full humans)
  • Empower workers: we don’t ask permission for time off, we set our own schedule


  • $hourly == my hourly rate
  • I track hours for Q1 (Aug, Sep, Oct): I average 32hrs/week.
  • Start of Q2: Payroll adjusted so I get paid $hourly * 32hrs/week Nov-Jan
  • I track hours for Q2 (Nov, Dec, Jan): I average 35hrs/week
  • Start of Q3: Payroll adjusted so I get paid $hourly * 35hrs/week Feb-Apr

  • I track hours for Q3 (Feb, Mar, Apr): I average 30hrs/week
  • Start of Q4: Payroll adjusted so I get paid $hourly * 30hrs/week May-Jul


  • Employee satisfaction (agency)
  • Small changes in our schedule average out
  • Less administrative overhead (time off etc)
  • Unpaid overtime is not a thing: we just get paid for our work
  • No need to explain “life happens” situations


  • If you work a consistent schedule, nothing changes.
  • We're only just extending this to all employees (but everyone wants it!)
  • We had to figure out some legal aspects to incorporate this into employment contracts


  • Bringing new recruits into the process is somewhat tricky.
  • Leaving the company is similarly tricky.

Moar Challenge

  • Our model presupposes a trust in our workforce to achieve results on their own schedule.
  • This does not solve the problem of people faking their timesheets.
  • Transparency and granularity in our time-tracking allows for a certain amount of accountability.
  • Will this scale? We think so.

Tour: How do we do it?

1. At the start of each quarter, pull 3 monthly reports from your time tracking tool for each member of the team.

2. The tool knows how many work days were in the quarter, accounting for holidays & weekends.

3. Incorporate any time off during the quarter, and calculate an average hours / week.

4. Multiply that by hourly rate to get weekly pay.

Tour: Config

Tour: Calculations

Tour: Time off

Tour: Payroll - Q1

Tour: Payroll - Q2


  1. Context
  2. The policy
  3. Employment contract clause
  4. The tool


  • Harvest is our time tracker (but any similar tool would do)
  • This is easy for us because we track time for clients already

Policy goals

This policy describes why and how we adjust our payroll on a quarterly basis to determine our monthly salaries for the next quarter. Our policies and process for adjusting salary factors must align with our values.


The goals of this policy are to:

  • Allow for self-management around work schedules
  • Remove any need to get approval for sick days, vacation schedules, etc.
  • Provide transparency in how we get paid:
    • This makes our salaries auditable
    • It allows us to reason effectively about our individual salaries, as well as our overall payroll
  • Stabilize salaries by flattening out variations in our schedule over the entire quarter.

The policy


At the beginning of each quarter we collect time-tracking data for all staff for the previous quarter. We then calculate payroll for the new quarter based on efforts over the previous quarter.

We incorporate holidays, vacation and sick days, by removing them from the denominator when calculating average hours per week/month.

We use each staff member’s individual base hourly rate to calculate their paycheque amount for the quarter.


    Please note: I, Derek

    and I cannot stress this enough

    am not a lawyer

Employment contract clause

Our compensation model is based on promoting financial stability while ensuring maximum flexibility with respect to hours of work.
To that end, salaries are adjusted on a quarterly basis based on hours worked the previous quarter. This means that, if your hours in one quarter significantly exceed those the following quarter, you may see a decrease in salary; conversely, if your hours in one quarter are lower than those the subsequent quarter, you will see an increase in salary.
The particulars of our calculations, and the considerations applied to compensation are set out in the salary calculation procedure available upon request.
By signing this Agreement, you agree and acknowledge that your salary may fluctuate from one quarter to the next and agree and understand that any reduction in salary shall not be construed as a unilateral change to your employment agreement and does not constitute constructive dismissal.

The Tool

Good news: we’re releasing our spreadsheet, instructions, and other resources as open source software (GPLv3):

But wait.. there’s more!




Questions arising from growth…

  • How do we:
    • equitably account for the impact we have on the success of the company?
    • identify and adjust the behaviours we value as an organization?

More questions…

  • How do we:
    • moderate our intrinsic biases while seeking objective assessment metrics?
    • work against pay gaps based on gender, race, etc. and create radical transparency in our salary process?
    • recognize that plenty more than just engineering skill goes into a successful technology company?

And even more questions…

  • How do we:
    • improve the agency we have as workers to improve our salary?
    • minimize the impact of negotiation and other skills that are unevenly distributed along lines of oppression?

Our answer: competency-driven peer-reviewed metrics

  1. Recognize diversity is our strength, and double down on it. Seek it out in as many aspects as possible.
  2. Understand competencies as key behaviours that impact the success of the organization.
  3. Our tool: competency-driven, equity-informed peer-reviewed metrics for how we’re doing and how to improve.


Thank You!