How To Compete With Playground Offices
Software Development is an increasingly competitive industry, so how can your company attract the best talent?
Like in most industries, Software Developers are looking for a flexible, rewarding job in which they feel valued.
When creating an environment in which a Software Developer will thrive, it’s difficult to avoid taking inspiration from tech giants Facebook and Google. Their offices are fondly, and often enviously, referred to as the playground offices. With giant slides, nap pods, on-site gyms and readily available food, they’re the office of dreams for Software Developers.
However, aside from the fact the novelty will surely wear off when deadlines loom, these modifications and benefits are hardly practical in your average office building.
As the younger generation joins the work force, they’re often more interested in fun benefits over health care and pensions which they may just expect as a norm.
Expecting your software developers to sit in front of a computer for 9 hours a day with no/few incentives may well lead to your developers leaving for a more flexible company with more appealing benefits.
Benefits Smaller Companies Can Offer
Getting the work life balance right is becoming more and more important to employees and so 9-5 office days are becoming rare.
Whether you choose to let your employees completely decide their own working schedule (providing they work their contracted hours per week) or compromise on their start/finishing hours prior to their start date, showing you care about your employees life outside of work will make them respect your business more and encourage them to be more productive whilst in work.
Unless it’s a support role, software development doesn’t necessarily have to be a 9-5 office job.
Buffer have no set offices, instead allowing their staff to work from wherever they feel comfortable and most productive. One of their employees actually travels around the US working from his RV.
We’re not suggesting you shut your offices and tell your employees to work from their cars, however a good developer can work from anywhere, providing they have the right equipment and decent internet connection, so allowing your developers to work from home when they need to can be a massive help when it comes to childcare, for example.
Try adding a few extra benefits to your employees contract, for example here at Hyperext we offer an on-site gym membership, where our employees can go on their lunch break to refresh their minds or whenever they prefer.
Not only does this show that you’re invested in your employee’s wellbeing, but will also reduce sickness absences and increase concentration levels.
Gym memberships start from as little as £9.99 a month, not much, but even so, the money will be made back in little to no time when productivity levels increase.
Non Gym Fitness Alternatives
Going to the gym is not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. There are plenty of low cost ways your team can get the exercise they need to stay fit and healthy without going to the gym. Perhaps the value comes by offering staff the flexibility to engage in healthy pursuits through the course of their normal work day.
Breaks & Holidays
Leaving the office for your lunch break is almost a taboo, but research has shown that employees who take their lunch break away from their desk experience better health, less stress related illnesses, more creativity and are therefore more productive.
Many people work through their lunch in order to be more productive, however this is more often than not, counter productive.
There are so many more reasons you shouldn’t eat your lunch at your desk, so provide a break out area or write a break policy into your existing policy to avoid your staff burning out.
It’s a legal requirement to allow employees to take holidays, but policies can still be strict, with holiday requests often having to be submitted months in advance.
Netflix, for example, have no specific holiday policy, and instead encourage their employees to take long or frequent holidays which in turn leads to higher productivity levels when returning from a holiday.
Try relaxing your policy or offering extra holidays as rewards or incentives.
Being a smaller company, we can’t offer unlimited holidays, however we do give employee’s their birthday off which is always a welcome gesture.
Food & Drink
Snacking at your desk is a bad habit that almost all office workers take up at some point and the majority of chosen snacks tend to be unhealthy junk.
Providing sugar free drinks and healthy snacks (no bowls of M&Ms!) to your employees will keep them fuelled for a hard days work and will stop your developers reaching for energy drinks.
As previously stated, Software Developers all work best within different conditions, but one thing many agree on is the affect background music has on their work. Try investing in a good speaker system and allowing employees to choose the music.
Although the majority of people work best with background noise, some do prefer to work in silence as Joel Spolsky points out.
If your office is big enough, why not have certain areas dedicated to silent working, alternatively, if this isn’t practical, invest in some good noise cancelling headphones. These will allow employees to completely mentally remove themselves from their environment or even listen to music of their own choice.
Here at Hyperext we are massive fans of Alexa, with our stations of choice being Radio 1 (specifically the Thursday afternoon private investigator segment), Radio 2 Breakfast and throwback playlists, but we’re open to suggestions.
How do you attract and accommodate software developers in such a competitive industry?