The happy developer

I thought I’d take a moment to share some details about the Mindscape working environment – I enjoy sharing the details in the hope that comments will be left with new and interesting ideas about how other developers are aided in working efficiently and effectively in their workplaces. We are big on continuous improvement and think discussion about this topic helps everyone.

The Kit

First and foremost, Mindscape staff get to pick their machines. We believe the bond between a geek and their machine is a sacred one and shouldn’t be decided for them arbitrarily. For example, recently Ivan Towlson joined the Mindscape team and requested a beefy laptop with 4GB of RAM so that he could travel around and still run big virtual machines when he needed to. No problem – a happy developer is an effective developer – we ordered him a MacBook Pro with 4GB of memory.

Further to this, all members of the team also get large 22″ wide screen monitors as it’s well known that two monitors + large display areas help developers work more efficiently.

Mindscape employee desk

The kit however does extend beyond just the machine you use and includes things like your chair. We extend the same courtesy of allowing developers to pick a chair that they like and we order it for them. A comfortable developer is an effective developer. Now, we don’t go overboard – nobody has a $900 dollar chair from the .com bubble days, but it is our way of showing that we appreciate everyone and want to foster the best environment we can.

The Telmann

When we founded Mindscape we decided we needed a drinks fridge. This is somewhat common amongst tech companies and we went online hunting for something small yet effective. What we found was “The Telmann”, the fridge to end all fridges and an absolute asset to the company on a hot day. Telmann is the brand of fridge and hence the name :)

As a side note, when we first acquired the The Telmann we decided we should turn the temperature down just a little so our drinks would cool faster. That’s when we learnt that the Telmann had teath as it promptly ate one of our cans of Coke Zero:

Exploded coke zero can

Keep in mind that this is a fridge, not a freezer :)

We endeavor to provide whatever drinks are required by staff to keep everyone happy – we have everything from coke to grapefruit juice, to protein shakes.

That’s two things we do to try and create a happy working environment. What are two things from your work environment that make it a happy place to be?


Tagged as General

2 Responses to “The happy developer”

  • Big monitor(s) and a personalized machine selection is definitely a big one… I tend to lean towards the “adequate” $1500 laptop and a $2500-$4000 high performance desktop combo myself… hardware is really a low-cost way to keep developers and designers happy. Same goes for peripheral device choices… even if you make a poor choice, at least it was “your” choice :)

    I’m fairly ambivalent about chairs, but I’ve worked with others in the past who take them pretty seriously – so I can definitely see it making a difference…

    I’m a coffee fiend myself, so pass on the coke fridge – but give me a good coffee machine, or a close coffee vendor of consistent quality. I definitely give props to clients/partner organizations that make decent coffee as opposed to battery acid… it buys a lot of good will with me ;o)

    In the past things that have kept me happy as a developer when joining an organization:

    1. A book shelf close at hand, a tech book budget, and the opportunity to take them home.
    2. A personal software tools budget .. especially for minor things like ultramon or your favorite merge tool or VMWare if you’d rather that over something free (it tends to stop pirated software flourishing in the tool belt of your developers as well ;o) – And of course ReSharper goes without saying.
    3. Remote source control, issue tracking and email access… something some organizations overlook, especially if their not a development shop first and foremost – if you’re already giving a developer a laptop, why not provide an environment for flexible work hours.
    4. MSDN subscription access – nothing more frustrating then a developer being at the mercy of a less passionate boss or IT department preventing them from grabbing the latest and greatest from Microsoft till a couple of weeks after it’s released.

    Those are the things that come to mind which have kept me happy in the past at various organizations.

  • Cheers for the comments Alex.

    We’re currently tossing up on the super coffee machine as Andrew especially is a coffee head – although I’m sure we’d probably need to import the beans and have then processed in the office :) The idea of a desktop/laptop combo is quite a good one, I hadn’t thought of that but it makes a lot of sense.

    All your other points we do provide as well although some don’t have specific budgets – e.g. we just put in an amazon book order each month and whatever books I’m told about I put into the order. There is something disturbingly geeky about the pleasure gained for a bookshelf full of tech books (and better yet – useful ones, not “Migrating to VB 4”!).

    Let me know next time you’re in Wellington, we should catch up :)



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