5 Ways You Know You’re In The Wrong Software Dev Company…

Knowing when you’re in the WRONG place is important

In my experience there are advantages to working in every company, from the colleagues that you work with to the experiences that you pick up on the way.

If many of the following stories are familiar it might be time to look at taking your work elsewhere.

Those you work with are as important as the equipment you use.

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I used to work at a small software company, and during the day one collegue would watch movies on his mobile. Once he shared with me:

“I don’t work Wednesdays”

I wanted to work on Wednesday, after all I am paid for a five day week and equally working hard during the time I should be at work can eliminate on overtime and weekend working. Since my colleague sometimes worked at weekends because of boredom, he didn’t really care about working hard at work. My issue is we were working as a team and he would block my progress. Need a backend fix? It’s not going to get done on a Wednesday. Tell your colleague that there is a bug? He won’t remember because of the drama taking place on the movie he’s engaged in.

The heartbreaking part? At this particular organisation it was not noticed that one employee didn’t work 20% of their time.

If you are working somewhere that doesn’t care about the quality of your work to such an extent that you can avoid doing anything for a day each week, it is the right time to look for another employer.

If you need equipment to work, it should be there.

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Sometimes you need to buy a few things for the office. A mug. Perhaps even a cable or two. When you are a full-time employee of a company and they expect you to buy a laptop, that is really a big investment for you — and who pays for the machine (you do). Who is responsible if the laptop breaks (hint: if it is yours, you are). If you work on your side project on the same machine you work on, who owns the code (I’d suggest you are, but you might have a lawsuit to protect your work if you are successful). Are you allowed to have games installed (you will still be in trouble if during a client meeting Doom pops up).

The same applies for companies that do not pay for stationary and expect you to bring your own. I mean, these are basic tools for working.

You should not be competing against those you work for. You should be working together, for a shared goal.

If you want me to use my own machine, perhaps I should bring my own chair and desk to work as well?

Actually, forget it. I’ll update by CV (don’t worry; I’ll use my own laptop).

What is the difference between the owners of the company and the workers in a company? They should all be working…

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I’ve worked at a company where the directors all went for lunch every day. Together. Staff lunched together. The numbers of people were small, but the division between them clear.

The reason for this is clear, but also developed an information bottleneck where the staff really didn’t know what needed to be done and when.

All of which is fine, until release day and all of the owners go to a company party together and there are release issues.

Guess who has to work late when there is work to do.

Some companies are great at delivering fantastic products, others great at the software development process.

In terms of structure, some companies have great leadership, management, or supervision.

Supervision is about making sure that the work is done. Management is about removing roadblocks and making sure that issues aren’t stopping progress.

The management don’t seem capable of running the company at any of these levels?

They’re probably not helping get the work done (and, actually helping to develop their firm).

Isn’t it better to work with people who want to make a success of the business? Yes, yes it is.

The work environment is there to enable you to work. If it isn’t, what is the point?

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You arrive for your first day and all staff have an access card and laptop. You aren’t allowed into the building without an access card, and are not allowed to work on your own machine.

You get let into the office on the first day by the manager.

The second day you are left facing a locked door. The solution? Tailgating.

To go to the toilet you will not be able to exit the door without an access card, so it is probably better to go before work.

These things happened

… oh, the company proxy prevents you from seeing stackoverflow at work.

Isn’t it time to find someone who shares your goal of making a great product / reduce waste / make a great company? Those companies are out there; let’s go!

Meetings are about getting work done. Be present!

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If you want valuable change to happen within an organisation you need the buy-in from managers, and need workers to actually complete the work (and probably finance to fund the time etc.)

Doesn’t it make sense that all of those people should be in the same room together to agree on the actions that should be performed by which people?

This, if it was not already invented, would be a meeting.

In this “meeting” people would not be looking on their phones or complaining that it is stopping them getting their work done. It’s an important distinction, but

Meetings are the work

and as with every experience at work, you should look at what benefits there are to that experience and what can be learnt from it. If not, you’re simply not trying hard enough.


It used to be the case that if you didn’t spend two years with a company, it would be hard to get another job in your sector. The mere fact of moving company would limit your career and put a question mark over the reason you left that last job.

Those days are over.

At least for most tech jobs.

This actually gives you power. You need to not just select a job, but select a manager and organisation that suits you and the way you work.

When you start to think in this way, you can see that probation periods don’t necessarily benefit the company that implements it. They help the organisation remove those who are a bad fit easily, and minimise losses. However a really good employee will have got much work done during the probation period and if the employee leaves with a week or a day’s notice the cost of replacing them can vastly exceed the cost of removing a poor employee.

You should use any probation period to check out a job, knowing there are other potential options for someone with your skill and ability.

Know your power, and be careful to choose a company you want to collaborate with. Your career will thank you.

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