A developer’s time doesn’t come cheap and this is why it’s good to implement the best practices in IT companies and software agencies to ensure that team productivity increases. This post will help you to improve your developers’ efficiency.
The average worker spends 13 hours a week on emails alone, which means 28% of the working week is taken up by… e-mail, according to research from Atentive. By contrast, companies like Apple, Netflix, and Google are 40% more productive than the average company and – in my honest opinion - it’s not because they attract top-level employees who are naturally gifted at productivity. I think it’s because they know how to encourage training in such things as efficiency, which is made-up of multiple elements.
I also looked at ways to boost my productivity at work. There are many articles available online that offer advice how to improve efficiency, but I want to share with you the 7 top concepts that I know, and we tried them out at TheMasters.
How can you help your team to be more productive (besides providing them with fresh fruit)? How to remove obstacles that may be keeping your developers from working at full capacity? Read these 7 hacks below.
1. Provide distraction-free environment
It may seem simple and obvious. However, it’s often the simplest solution that is overlooked and that holds us back the most.
Did you know that it can take up to 25 minutes to recover from distractions and become focused again? Programming requires long periods of intense concentration and that’s why your devs need quiet. The lack of sound privacy is one of the biggest frustration and noise-cancelling headphones ARE NOT a solution. I am sure you have a picture of devs with headphones on in your mind, don’t you? And in most cases you’re right. Some devs are more focused on writing code and music helps them to fully concentrate on the task. But, probably a small proportion of your team would prefer listening to music than noisy chatting colleagues - hence the reason why they are constantly wearing headphones. Make sure you have an additional ‘quiet room’ enabling your devs to work in silence.
The workplace overall - air quality, temperature, amount of light, noise level - are factors that can cause distraction that could disturb your dev team from working effectively. And don’t forget about having some comfortable chairs and desks for people to work without an aching back. A good environment is not just about comfort, it's about providing people with a space to work with minimal risk of injury and disturbance.
On the other hand, most devs appreciate an individual and flexible approach to work. It's worth providing a comfortable working environment in which devs can reach the greatest efficiency. Remote work? Why not! If they feel they are more productive at night, why not allow them to work then? In fact, studies show that people who work from home are 13% more productive than office employees.
2. Assign devs to projects according to their interests
One of the most common complaints I hear from developers is that their employers don’t care about their growth and skills development.
Give your programmers a chance to step up and take on a new challenge or increase their responsibilities. At The Masters we try to vary projects so a team member never gets a similar system to one he worked on before. Thanks to that our devs are more engaged in their work and they are continually developing their skills. Although, some devs like to work on projects within a specific industry and that’s also fine. One of our devs studied medicine for 4 years before she discovered her passion for software development. Even though she left it behind, she still loves medicine-related topics, therefore she likes to work on our medtech projects.
Try getting junior devs learning from senior devs and being collaborate whilst working on a project. By helping to expand their skill set, it allows for the building of a much more advanced IT workforce, which in the long run, will benefit your company.
3. Offer development opportunities and continuous training
Thanks to weekly English lessons with a native speaker, a monthly budget for training (including international conferences) and internal workshops, TheMasters’ devs are constantly improving their skills. Our CEO really wants to have the best programmers on his team, which is why he decided to set a generous budget for the company’s training needs.
As I mentioned above, give your workers a chance to learn. Don’t expect that they will necessarily study new techniques on their own time and on their own dime.
CFO asks CEO: What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?
CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?
You can support an employee’s development in many ways. For example: workshops, courses, seminars or individual training courses. Offering these opportunities will give employees additional skills that allow them to improve their efficiency and productivity leading to the whole company becoming better and more competitive. Even if training is not possible due to budgetary constraints, conduct some internal training sessions or allow devs to spend a part of their time on self-education.
On top of all that, encourage the more knowledgeable people in the team to mentor the less experienced devs. That's how we do it at TheMasters. No matter how senior your dev team is, they can still learn more. Continually encouraging your them to evolve is key to a successful business.
4. Reduce meetings and unnecessary tasks immediately
Did you know that meetings take longer than just the actual time of the meeting? You need to prepare, don’t you? In the end, a scheduled 30-minute meeting actually ends up taking about 60 minutes. Talking with your team and finding out where you are losing some valuable billing hours, enables you to eliminate that wasted time.
Is every report, email, status update etc., really necessary? Does everyone need to participate in a meeting about future project plans or a new client? Let your programmers work on writing code. Reduce unnecessary meetings to a minimum and only to those that are really needed.
It’s obvious that some meetings are crucial, but there are 3 things you can do to speed them up and make them more effective:
- make sure you have a short agenda. The agenda sets a clear path for the meeting and allows the participants to prepare in advance – again saving time.
- set a time limit and don’t exceed it.
- get straight to the point
5. Set clear goals and attainable tasks
Once an unavoidable meeting is over, make sure that precisely defined tasks have been assigned to team members. Try to make sure that employees’ assignments are as clear as possible.
Let them know what you expect from them and tell your team members specifically what impact this assignment has on a wider basis. If possible, try not to give your devs small, unnecessary tasks when they are focused on a larger goal.
Having hired smart, talented people, who can get the job done, now, let them do it.
6. Don’t let reporting ruin team productivity
While I recommended that you decrease the number of meetings, you still have to make sure information flows smoothly within your team. One of the best ways to guarantee high performance from your development staff is good communication. Instead of relying solely on email, try something different. Want to know why?
Emails take up a huge part of any employee’s time. In fact, email was revealed to be the second most time-consuming activity for workers. So, what can you do? Launch an instant communication tool to keep everyone in touch at all times. At The Masters, we love using Slack. The best thing about it is that it can be integrated with other apps, such as GitHub or Google Drive.
Of course, you can find numerous tools that improve productivity but using even the fanciest ones won’t make your team more productive. It’s just one part of the whole process.
If more than 10 percent of a day is spent reporting on the work being done, something is fundamentally wrong. That’s why you should keep an eye on reporting as well as communication. We use Jira to manage tasks of our devs. Thanks to Jira our PM’s can assign projects based on our devs availability and organize projects according to agreed priorities. Be Agile. All our projects at The Masters follow the Agile methodology. Thanks to Agile we know that we always deliver. This methodology allows making frequent reviews, update the plans and check if the project is moving the right direction.
7. Give your devs to have a sense of ownership
When devs feel like they fit-into your company, they’re more likely to personally identify with their work. Help your team feel like owners of what they are building - invite them to be more than just a task-consuming automated robot. For example, give your devs a leadership role in some of the projects they are working on and let them take part in planning the projects and give them room to share their ideas.
You can also let them share their opinion. Give them feedback and ask for the same - your devs should be comfortable with an open-minded atmosphere, where everyone is allowed to express their remarks. There so much we can learn from each other!