My gig as a summer fill-in behind Communitech’s chief writer, Anthony Reinhart, has come to an end.

Three months have flown by, and I put that down to the tech effect: Strong fields of creative energy in the Communitech Hub distort and consume time.

In a matter of seconds, 8 a.m. becomes 5 p.m.

Anybody travelling in unfamiliar territory brings home a pile of photos. My souvenirs as a tourist in Waterloo Region’s tech environment are in my head.  Here are a few observations:

Dress code: Cargo shorts, t-shirts and sandals. Jeans, if you’re seeing somebody important. The venture-capital scout will probably be wearing them.

Devices:  You’ve got two hands — one for your phone, the other for your laptop. A free hand means you’re not optimizing.

Lunch: Well, if you must. It just means more Skittles and coffee for everybody else.

Office space: Borrow heavily from The Flintstones and college dorms: Brick-and-beam surroundings, home-made desks, a couch to flop on.

Office buddies: The best ones have four legs and need to be walked regularly. They come and go at Desire2Learn. But can they code?

On a more serious note:

Bikes: A full stand of them brings joy to my heart. The one by the main door to The Tannery, home to Communitech, Google and other neighbours, is a glorious tangle of crankarms and handlebars.

Besides dreaming up better devices — and better tools for them — downtown tech workers might show us the way out of our car dependency. Lead on!

Bike thefts: They throw a stick into the spokes of the progress noted above. Despite Waterloo Regional Police cracking alleged chop shops earlier this summer, thefts downtown continue with appalling frequency.

Granted, locks don’t prevent bike thefts; but they do deter them. I’ve seen some really lousy locks on really good bikes in and around the Tannery. It’s worth the money to protect your investment.

Work: Flexible hours, liberal vacation policies, beverage fridges — the unruly culture of tech workplaces must leave human-resources managers in traditional companies gasping for breath.

Apps will come and go. The enduring legacy of tech culture may be its dismantling of rusty notions of work.

It views fun as a creative contributor to productivity, not a distraction. It respects workers as fundamentally mature, responsible people, capable of managing their own time and meeting targets.

These are welcome changes, even for visitors from another era.

About The Author

Christian Aagaard

Christian Aagaard was a newspaper journalist for more than 30 years before setting out on his own in 2012. Now he works as a freelance writer helping for-profit and non-profit organizations tell their stories.