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What were your biggest takeaways from the hit TV Series, Severance?

Kristen Roth Atlassian Team May 31, 2022

(Disclaimer: While there are no spoilers in this post itself, I can't guarantee there won't be any in the comments! Read on with caution... ⚠️)


I don't know about you, but I found the show Severance to be pretty wild. Have you watched it yet? It's one of those shows that just kind of haunts you and keeps creeping back into your thoughts in an intriguing way. Being a show about work and workplace culture, I really wanted to hear some thoughts on it from this group.

There were several apparent themes that popped out and realizations that I had while watching, but for me, I think these were the top two:

  • Work-life balance is far from a "one-size-fits-all" concept: We have "segmentors" and "integrators" with some folks choosing to be on one extreme end or the other. I realized that I often fluctuate here depending on what's going on at the time at home and at work. I recently went through a period that required me to be an "integrator" for several weeks taking more of an always-available approach to work but have been making my way back to more of a "segmentor" lifestyle. You?
  • Identity contradictions can be really tough to navigate: Who are we really if we have two versions of ourselves  a "work self" and a "home self"? Here's a little plug for why we should bring our whole, authentic selves to work. I've improved a lot in this area over the years and I think it's made me better at my job.

How about you? What were the themes/realizations that you found most glaring throughout the show, and maybe even relatable?

6 comments

On that second point, the idea of a separate "work self" and "home self" was a gamechanger.

  • I've not seen such a literal interpretation of this idea. The show demonstrated, that not only will the work self miss out on having a fuller work experience with their non-work self integrated, but that their non-work self completely misses out on the perspective and energy gained from work.
  • It's very relatable. I grow so much from my job experience and learning from teammates. Confining that to "just the workplace" would limit myself from growing fully.

Visually, there's a strong theme of a time capsule. The art decor of the main workplace feels like it's from another time period. It lacks connection to timely news about the world or even access to books. It makes me think that in addition to the individual being stripped of information about their non-work lives, the environment too is stripped of information about the world. Which makes it so much about control as though staff are frozen in time. So now I'm thinking twice about windowless offices, non-decorative walls, and the ability to bring inspiration into the workplace.

Like Kristen Roth likes this
Kristen Roth Atlassian Team May 31, 2022

"... their non-work self completely misses out on the perspective and energy gained from work." I hadn't thought of it this way! 💡 There really is so much we can take from work and apply to our personal lives and vice versa.

Control was another big theme I noticed, too, but I hadn't thought of the physical environment (or lack thereof!) as being part of it. Removing any indication of news/trends/etc. from the outside world is certainly a form of control. It's so interesting to hear these different perspectives!

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Natalie Atlassian Team Jun 02, 2022

Love this show on so many levels! The satire around company culture is really a searing one: 

  • How far are we willing to take the idea of "company loyalty"? 
  • At what point do company values and ethos become cultish? 
  • Why do companies offer senseless perks (finger traps? waffle parties?) when really what employees want is autonomy and freedom? 
  • When you value worker productivity above all else, yeah, why wouldn't you lock people in a room 9-5, 40 hours a week?
  • How do we view cross-functional collaboration? What stories do we make up about the cross functional teams we work at at our companies without really know anything about them? 


Can't wait for the next season

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Why do companies offer senseless perks (finger traps? waffle parties?) when really what employees want is autonomy and freedom? 

I mean, time and place for those kinds of perks. And certainly they shouldn't be the ONLY positive reinforcement for good work. Seems like that's all they were working for. Well, also avoiding the negative reinforcement of the break room.

How do we view cross-functional collaboration? What stories do we make up about the cross functional teams we work at at our companies without really know anything about them?  

Yes! And is fostering animosity or drawing harsh lines between teams really worth the insular team pride? Or, is it possible for groups to come together and still feel pride for their respective work? I mean, I'm biased, but so is the show.

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Andy Gladstone Community Leader Jun 07, 2022

I took a different view on the events in Severance. Although the team members that elected to undergo the Severance procedure should have led totally different inny and outie lives, their work life continued to affect them in the outside world. We often try to seek a proper work/life balance, but how much are we in control of successfully achieving that? How much of work seeps into our personal lives whether we allow it in or not? How much does our inny shape our outie? It was eye opening to see an illustration of how little control we have of the seep & creep of our work and personal lives into one another.

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Totally. And work/life bleed isn't just inevitable, it helps us with perspective. Look how much a single "from the outside" book's introduction to the workplace or the knowledge of a son impacted the innies and how much that influenced their decision-making. 

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Kristen Roth Atlassian Team Jun 07, 2022

Yet another view I hadn't considered that has me 🤯 The very thing the Severance procedure aimed to do caused their work life to haunt them in a very unique and unpleasant way. Going to keep thinking about this one! 

Natalie Atlassian Team Jun 13, 2022

Ooh, a podcast I listen to just dropped an episode about Severance. Check it out, it was pretty good! https://workoffiction.fm/episodes/2022/whole-self-severance

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nina_schmidt Community Leader Jun 19, 2022

haven't seen Severance yet, but it is not put on my watch list :-)

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Craig Nodwell Community Leader Jul 02, 2022

It's on my watch list now as well.

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