Programming

One of the organizational stereotypes is having a big room full of cubicles filled with employees. Even if programmers can work in such settings, improperly designed environments restrict to a certain degree the creativity and productivity, making more difficult employees’ collaboration and socialization. Despite having dedicated meeting rooms, an important part of the communication occurs ad-hoc. In open spaces each transient interruption can easily lead inadvertently to loss of concentration, which leads to wasted time, as one needs retaking thoughts’ thread and reviewing the last written code, and occasionally to bugs.

Programming is expected to be a 9 to 5 job with the effective working time of 8 hours. Subtracting the interruptions, the pauses one needs to take, the effective working time decreases to about 6 hours. In other words, to reach 8 hours of effective productivity one needs to work about 10 hours or so. Therefore, unless adequately planned, each project starts with a 20% of overtime. Moreover, even if a task is planned to take 8 hours, given the need of information the allocated time is split over multiple days. The higher the need for further clarifications the higher the chances for effort to expand. In extremis, the effort can double itself.

Spending extensive time in front of the computer can have adverse effects on programmers’ physical and psychical health. Same effect has the time pressure and some of the negative behavior that occurs in working environments. Also, the communication skills can suffer when they are not properly addressed. Unfortunately, few organizations give importance to these aspects, few offer a work free time balance, even if a programmer’s job best fits and requires such approach. What’s even more unfortunate is when organizations ignore the overtime, taking it as part of job’s description. It’s also one of the main reasons why programmers leave, why competent workforce is lost. In the end everyone’s replaceable, however what’s the price one must pay for it?

Trainings are offered typically within running projects as they can be easily billed. Besides the fact that this behavior takes time unnecessarily from a project’s schedule, it can easily make trainings ineffective when the programmers can’t immediately use the new knowledge. Moreover, considering resources that come and go, the unwillingness to invest in programmers can have incalculable effects on an organization performance, respectively on their personal development.

Organizations typically look for self-motivated resources, this request often encompassing organization’s whole motivational strategy. Long projects feel like a marathon in which is difficult to sustain the same rhythm for the whole duration of the project. Managers and team leaders need to work on programmers’ motivation if they need sustained performance. They must act as mentors and leaders altogether, not only to control tasks’ status and rave and storm each time deviations occur. It’s easy to complain about the status quo without doing anything to address the existing issues (challenges).

Especially in dysfunctional teams, programmers believe that management can’t contribute much to project’s technical aspects, while management sees little or no benefit in making developers integrant part of project’s decisional process. Moreover, the lack of transparence and communication lead to a wide range of frictions between the various parties.

Probably the most difficult to understand is people’s stubbornness in expecting different behavior by following the same methods and of ignoring the common sense. It’s bewildering the easiness with which people ignore technological and Project Management principles and best practices. It resides in human nature the stubbornness of learning on the hard way despite the warnings of the experienced, however, despite the negative effects there’s often minimal learning in the process.

See also:
Misconceptions about Programming: Part I
The Dark Side of Programming

® Originally published on sql-troubles