In the interests of illustrating the complicated programmer psyche for the benefit of anyone involved in recruitment, here’s the two things I look at in a job advert:
Is it using a programming language / technology that I know and enjoy?
If I don’t enjoy the tools, the days are really going to drag. If I don’t already know the language, you’re probably not going to hire me.
Is it fully remote, or near my house?
I have to live somewhere, and right now I live here. I’m sure your office is lovely.
Those are the gatekeeper questions. If the answer to either of those is no, there’s no point reading on, it’s not going to work. You won’t want me, or I won’t enjoy the work, or I’ll have a nasty commute / relocation. If the answer to both of those is yes, then I can get excited, it’s a real opportunity.
Job ads too often focus on what matters to the person writing them, not what matters to the person reading.
Here’s my current setup, and the hardware I got, in case you were curious. And because I know I’ll be curious in a few years.
Aeron chair: Are the any other type of office chairs? I don’t think so. At least there shouldn’t be. You can usually get one cheap from a failing startup in your area.
INGO Ikea sitting desk: A plenty big enough desk, of solid wood, and cheap. It’s marketed as a kitchen table. I’ve owned three of these so far.
BJORKUDDEN Ikea standing desk: A little bit too short for me, so I have some phone books on top. Getting a standing desk the right height is tricky, because your legs don’t adjust, unlike a chair, so it has to be perfect. This as close as I could find without spending a fortune. I stand about 50% of the time when I’m programming, but not 50% of the day. Some days I mostly stand, others I mostly sit. Standing after lunch helps a lot in overcoming the post-lunch coma. The Bjorkudden is marketed as a bar table.
What would happen if everyone had the freedom to work remotely? How would things change?
Many companies such as Lincoln Loop, Mozilla, Automattic, and MySQL AB are already distributed organizations. Central to that philosophy is that only what you do matters, not where or when. Obviously some work, like fishing and truck driving, can’t be done remotely, but in modern economies, a large number of people spend the bulk of their day sitting at a desk. What if they all felt free to work remotely? It’s a fun though experiment, so here goes – what changes might we see?
Less commuting. Commuting, for most people, is a reliable and persistent source of unhappiness (because it reduces the control you have over your own life). Less commuting also means less car miles driven, which means less death on the road. Less commuting means less pollution and lower demand for oil, with attendant geo-political consequences.
More community. Instead of just sleeping in our homes, we now live there, and become part of the community, indeed we create that community. You can pick up your kids from school at 4pm. You can attend the town hall meeting. You’re supporting the businesses near you. You actually meet and talk to your neighbours. You move somewhere where you like your neighbours :-)
Early in my career, I worked for a company run by two ex-military officers. When they attended a distant meeting, they would take separate flights, because surely the company would not survive if they were both hurt in a crash. They never got injured in a plane, but they did get sick at the same time (the company survived). Shared offices turned out more dangerous than shared aeroplanes.
There’s a risk to placing your most valuable people within sneezing distance of each other.
You probably know and talk of your team’s “bus number”, but sickness strikes far more often than buses. We’ve all seen co-located teams drop one by one, and you’ve probably wished a sick colleague had stayed home rather than share his germs with you.
In these months of American politicians trying to influence you, I thought it interesting to look at ways of using the same tools for positive change.
In May 1995, Canadian academic, broadcaster and environmental activist David Suzuki invited marketers, scientists, media educators, and activists to Vancouver for a Social Change Conference. The goal was for social change organisations to learn about effective marketing and behaviour change from professionals and each other.
The proceedings were published in Tools for Change, which is available at the Vancouver Pubic Library, and AFAIK basically nowhere else. Here’s what I found interesting:
David Suzuki tells of making television science programs. He thought people would turn on TV to watch his program, then turn it off and discuss.
Of course people don’t watch television that way at all. They come home, they turn it on, and it’s there. And they tune in and out, assaulted by a barrage of images. By the time they go to bed at night, their brains are mush. They retain bits and pieces with no idea where it came from.
Excited to have my first post on Lincoln Loop’s blog, about intrinsic motivation, flow, and why you don’t find cats in offices:
When your client is hundreds of miles away, but your bed only three feet, it helps to understand motivation.
The first thing to understand about motivation is that it’s not something you do to someone. That’s called coercion. With enough power you can make anyone do almost anything, but you can’t make them want to; and typically …
Your goal as a negotiator is to get the target(s) (the person or people you are trying to arrest) to surrender peacefully to law enforcement.
Sometimes there are hostages, and then your priority is securing their release, but usually there are not. By getting them to put down their weapons and come out you are usually saving their lives, and also protecting your colleagues.
The last resort is an armed assault by the SWAT team. Prior to negotiation being taken seriously by law enforcement, this was the only option.
Make exclusive contact
First and foremost, you need to get in contact with them. Usually they are keen to talk, and most often you can use the phone line. Sometimes you have to get the SWAT team to bring them a field telephone. Sometimes you stand outside the window or at the foot of the stairs, and shout. And occasionally, as in the Beltway sniper case you have to ask the media to say things and hope the target hears.