The general consensus of a lot of places I’ve worked at whether it be the opinion of a manager or old way of thinking directly from the top is that if you don’t have an IDE open on your screen or web browser instance of a work related website or project you’re slacking off. It’s this kind of thinking that destroys companies, blows out budgets and makes it difficult to establish a credible and capable team that isn’t comprised of disposable employee’s.
An employer which I will not name that I used to work for had a manager who used to see me checking my email or reading a tech blog or web development article and note it down without saying anything. I remember the first time that he pulled me aside telling me that he thinks I am getting distracted and not focusing, when in-fact I was reading articles mostly to do with my work, the kind of articles that can make you a better developer or teach you something new that makes you a more productive worker. He didn’t get that and it got to the point where he felt like I wasn’t an ideal fit and I left.
What he wanted was a monkey. Someone who would come into the office, sit at their desk and only leave when their bladder was at bursting point or the compulsory-by-law lunch break. The type of manager who would pinpoint you as lazy & uncommitted if you wanted to leave work on time to get home to see your family instead of slaving away at your desk until 9 or 10 at night.
If you’re a manager who believes that because someone doesn’t look busy whether it be one of your developers is watching a Youtube video or writing a blog post that they’re slacking off you need to re-evaluate whether or not you’re managing or trying to be the master in a slave-type workplace scenario.
Regardless of whether or not you’re a developer, designer or secretary smothering your employee will make them feel like they’re not trusted, when an employee feels like they’re not trusted there is a chance they’ll start to resent not only those above them but the company itself which in turn will lower their motivation to do the best that they can which in turn could lead to a mediocre end result. Don’t whip, smother or make your employees feel like they’re part of some corporate S&M game.
Developers need to procrastinate
Developers need to procrastinate. A developer who does not procrastinate will make mistakes, get tired easily, not be up-to-date with current affairs and or techniques pertaining to their field. Some developers don’t get to use a computer on their weekends because their better half or children want to spend time with them which is completely understandable or they have other things to do they can’t do during a work week like renovating their house or undertaking other hobbies.
That procrastination time is sometimes the only time a developer gets to read up on new ways of doing things or new technologies like web servers and programming languages which in turn could end up saving the company countless hours of programming time and increase productivity.
Learn to trust your developers
Let the end result speak for itself. A good developer knows when they have to focus and when they can read blogs and watch cat videos on Youtube. If a developer doesn’t deliver, give them a warning and then cut your losses. Trust your developers and they’ll be loyal and productive when they need to be and slack off when they feel as though they can.
Just because you don’t look busy…
Doesn’t mean you’re not busy. An old way of thinking is if someone doesn’t look like they’re working they’re not busy or have no work to do: an inaccurate assumption. If you’re a manager who believes that your workers need to look busy every single minute of the day, you need to re-valuate where you stand as a manager and as a person.
Lame incentives don’t warrant unrealistic expectations
Promising your developers free pizza and beer if they come in on the weekend or pull an all nighter even if there isn’t a looming tight deadline just for the sake of believing it will yield a faster result does not work. Want your developers to work extra hours unwarranted? Pay them overtime, don’t expect a developer on salary to stay late every night for free, just so you can get a few extra hours of lead time on a project.