The PortSwigger staff handbook

The ultimate guide to life at PortSwigger

The business attending the weekly all hands meeting

Working hours

Our "normal" hours are based on 9am until 5pm with an hour's break for lunch. You can flex your day to start any time between 8am and 9:30am without needing to notify anyone.

We are happy to support additional flexibility if this works for your team and the people you work with. For example, some people prefer to start later to accommodate the school run. We don't impose hard and fast rules, because arrangements that work for some teams might not work for others. If you would like additional flexibility, please discuss this with your team leader.

When arranging regular team catch-ups, such as daily standups, please be mindful that people on the team might have different preferences on start and end times. When a new person joins a team, be aware that they won't automatically have the same routine as the rest of you.

You are encouraged to take breaks during the working day when you need them. Lunch is provided between 12 and 1:30pm in our own restaurant, free of charge.

Working location

Our default place of work is at our offices in Booths Park, Knutsford. We believe that spending the bulk of our working time together is most conducive to effective collaboration and creativity. We're also instinctively trusting and supportive, and want to make people's lives easier where we can.

We are flexible in supporting people in working elsewhere from time to time as the need arises. Examples of this would include staying at home to let in a plumber, receive a delivery, or look after a sick child at short notice. It is hard to codify rules for every situation and we prefer to trust people to do the right thing for their team and for PortSwigger. If in doubt about any planned working arrangements, please speak to your team leader.

Developer Ibz working at his desk

Traveling to work

Swiggers travel to work in various ways:

  • We have bicycle storage, showers, and a clothes drying area.
  • We are approximately one mile's walk from Knutsford town center. We provide a shuttle bus service between the railway station and office in the morning and evening. Please consult the workplace team for current times.
  • There is extensive car parking close to our building.
  • Many Swiggers organize car shares. If you are interested, please speak to the culture team, who will put you in touch with other interested people who live close to you.

If you feel unsafe traveling due to extreme weather or any other reason, please work at home and let your team leader know.

Out of hours access to office

The building is secured overnight by site security. It is open on weekdays between 7am and 6pm, and closed at weekends.

If you need access to the building outside of those times, please speak to the workplace team.

Quiet spaces

If you need some quiet time to work away from distractions, you can find a suitable spot anywhere in the office.

There is a dedicated quiet room for meditation or prayer. This is located upstairs in room FN11. This room is not for having meetings, conversations, or working in.

If you prefer to take some quiet time at lunch to switch off from work or socializing (for example, reading a book or watching Netflix), feel free to do this in the general office areas or outside.

Enjoying a peaceful learning lunch

Dress code

There is no dress code. You can wear whatever you are comfortable with.

Names and faces

We understand that with the size we are, people find it hard to put names to faces or faces to names. Various technologies we use support profile photos, including Bamboo, Zoom, GSuite, and Jira. We encourage everyone to configure their profiles with a recent photo in which you are clearly recognizable.

Company organization

We firmly believe that culture is about beliefs, values, and behaviours, not organizational structure. We instinctively minimize hierarchy.

Swiggers are organized into small teams, generally up to around 10 in size. Within each team, things are fairly flat and self-organized. There is a designated team leader, whose role is to support the rest of the team and to act as the default go-between for other teams. But we view leadership as shared and contextual.

Teams are organized into four tribes: technology, growth, culture, and finance. Each tribe has a designated tribal elder, whose role is to support the teams and team leaders within their tribe and to act as the default go-between for other tribes.

Meetings

PortSwigger strives to avoid a "meeting culture".

We collaborate continuously, but most of our productive conversations happen informally without advance planning. Wherever possible, you should favor ad hoc, organic conversations over booking time in people's calendars.

We seek to actively break the ingrained assumption that people work at their desks and go to meeting rooms for meetings. Meetings are just conversations, and there are numerous places where you can have a conversation: at someone's desk, within your team's area, in one of the coffee areas, in the restaurant booths, in the larger restaurant area, on the atrium staircase, and outside.

A meeting involving members of various tribes

We work best when we're open and collaborative. There is hardly anything that any of us are working on or talking about that can't be shared. In fact, having people overhear office conversations is a good thing, as it often helps people to see off a misunderstanding or better align on something.

We do have various meeting rooms throughout the office which can be used when needed. There is no meeting room booking system, and meetings rooms cannot be reserved by anyone.

All-hands meetings happen every Friday at 3pm, in the atrium. This is an opportunity for teams to give updates on their work, share news and other updates, meet new joiners, and ask questions.

Social events

We have social time every Friday afternoon, following the all-hands meeting, with drinks and snacks provided.

We encourage social time during lunch in our restaurant. Feel free to sit by anyone and join any existing conversation.

We have regular social events that are facilitated and paid for by the company. If you have a suggestion for a social event, please let the culture team know.

Many Swiggers self-organize social clubs based on particular hobbies and interests. If you have an idea for a social club, you can share the idea at an all-hands meeting or with the culture team. We are happy for people to use the office for social clubs during lunchtime or out of hours, provided this doesn't cause any mess or disruption. Please speak to the workplace team to arrange this. There is a social calendar showing details of social events that are happening.

We have company parties at Christmas (partners welcome) and in the summer (partners and children welcome).

Playing board games and enjoying lunch

Gym

The gym is available for anyone to use, and showers are also available.

The gym is a versatile space that can be used for a wide range of activities. We encourage Swiggers to self-organize activities. If there is equipment that you need to support a planned activity, please speak to the workplace team and we will look into it for you.

Lockers

Lockers are available for people who need them. Please speak to the workplace team to request a locker.

Reimbursement of expenses

Expenses reasonably incurred as part of your work will be reimbursed. If you are unsure whether a planned expense is reasonable, please speak to your team leader.

If you have a Soldo payment card, please use this for all expenses and upload receipts via the mobile Soldo app. Otherwise, please make payment yourself and give your receipt to the finance team to be reimbursed.

Holidays

Please use Bamboo to book holiday requests. For some operational roles (for example, customer support or office cleaning), it is desirable to avoid having too many people on a team taking holidays at the same time. When this applies, team leaders will discuss with the team the best approach to arranging holidays.

Sickness

If you are not well enough to work, take time off until you are better. Wherever possible, please let your team leader know that you are unwell and record your absence in Bamboo as soon as you are able to.

On some occasions, you might feel you are well enough to work some or all of the day at home, but not well enough to travel to work. We would encourage you to prioritize recovering properly, but in this situation it is fine to work at home. Please let your team leader know what is happening.

Performance and conduct

We set ourselves high standards for our performance, and we actively support everyone in striving to deliver the best they can. Everyone at PortSwigger is expected to conduct themselves professionally and in line with our values.

If there is evidence that your work or conduct are routinely below the bar we set for ourselves, we will in the first instance work with you to resolve the issues identified. If this is unsuccessful, we might suggest that you look for another opportunity, and we might ultimately ask you to leave PortSwigger.

Classic technology in a modern environment

Covid working arrangements

Our general approach to Covid is that we will follow official guidance from the UK government. This includes rules on lockdowns, testing, and isolation.

The office ventilation system is Covid-safe. It draws air out of the building, pulls in fresh air from outside, and filters the new air. There's no recirculation of air within the building.

We realize that people have different attitudes to risk around Covid, and different preferences on Covid safety (maintaining distance, shaking hands, using hand gel, etc.). You can decide yourself what practices you wish to follow, and please respect the preferences of other Swiggers.

Grievances

We encourage you to resolve any difficulties through direct conversations with the relevant parties in the first instance. If you are not comfortable doing this or it proves unsuccessful, you can speak to any of the following to discuss the situation: your team leader, any other team leader or tribal elder, or any member of the culture tribe.

Leave for new parents

Employees who give birth are entitled to take up to one year of leave. Provided you have been continuously employed for at least 6 months:

  • The first 26 weeks are paid at full pay, and the following 13 weeks are paid at the statutory maternity pay rate.
  • On returning to work from parental leave, a monthly bonus of 50% will be paid each month during the first 6 months following your return.

Employees whose partner gives birth are entitled to take up to two weeks of paid leave, provided you have been continuously employed for at least 6 months. This can be taken all at once or in smaller chunks as preferred.

Leave entitlements for new parents can be shared between the parents.

Other situations relating to parental leave might also arise. Please speak to your team leader or anyone in the culture tribe if you have questions about specific situations.

Please discuss parental leave arrangements with your team leader if the need arises.

Compassionate leave

You may take a reasonable period of paid compassionate leave in the event of the death or serious illness of a close relative or other similar person. Please notify your team leader if this need arises, and record your absence in Bamboo.

We have a variety of resources in place to help our people look after themselves. The Culture Tribe are always happy to support in any way possible. A full summary of the available support, including details of our Employee Assistance Programme, can be found on the intranet.

A member of the academy team working

Further questions

If you have any questions that are not answered in this handbook, you can ask PortSwigger's trusty assistant Jeeves (jeeves@portswigger.net). You can also discuss anything with your team leader at any time.