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2019-02-26

How to avoid developer burnout

If you are considering a career in tech and want to avoid the burnout disease sweeping this industry, here are a few wellbeing initiatives we implement to eliminate the risk of running on empty.
We sat down with Andy Eva-Dale our technical director to get the inside scoop on how he keeps his team happy. He is managing the biggest department we have – they are the lifeblood of what we offer as an agency. The future is digital and they are our technical ammunition, making sure we always deliver the best innovative solutions and tailored advice to our clients.
Andy coding
What’s the secret formula?
There is no one-size-fits-all formula to managing a large team. It is different every time and my team here are great. Managing a tech department is rewarding, fun and keeps me on my toes. To keep a team of this size happy we have to think about a lot of different factors…

Career minded: We are constantly analysing how modern and emerging technologies are pushing the boundaries in the digital arena. We keep our finger on the pulse and make sure we apply new and exciting thought to our customers problems as well as the tried and tested solutions. We take the firm opinion that you need the “right tools for the right job”.

Progressive technologies: We kit out our department with shiny new laptops, access to education resources like ‘Plural Sight’ and adopt new technologies regularly. We also offer paid courses, training and development.

Passion projects: We are very fortunate to have an existing portfolio of exciting work and in addition to this, we are constantly winning and pitching for new work that provides intelligent solutions for some real headscratchers. For example, we are developing ‘Chatbot’ technology for a number of current and new clients. We are using AI to see how we can improve their customer service touchpoints.
Thinking outside the box: It’s a bit cliché but we really do encourage thinking outside of the box. Creativity is key to everything we work on so our flat structure ensures that everyone’s opinion counts and no idea is left unexplored.

Keeping it Social: This is not a come to work headphones on environment, we genuinely care about each other and hang out outside of working hours.

Mind and body: We are big advocates of stepping away from the laptop and having a break from screen-time. Coding headspace is essential so I regularly take the team for a coffee and stroll – you’d be surprised with how many cool ideas surface from this. We have a running club, (I haven’t been for a few months and it’s starting to show) lunch and learns - but most importantly lots of free food.
Andy & Anders
How do you know it’s working?
Well, some members of our team have been with the company for over 10 years, which is testament to the fact we must be doing something right. Mid-conversation, Steve, Stuart and Anders chimed in with a few reasons as to why this team is amazing to work in:

‘I think this is a really good environment for personal growth, it’s a good-sized company, you don’t get lost in the crowd and you still have a voice… I like the fact that you always have the ability to upskill – that’s a real deal-breaker for devs in this industry.’
- Anders Jensen, Front-end Developer

‘It’s great that you have the freedom to choose the best tools for the job, for example graph QL which allows me to optimise the aggregation and handling of data on the front-end. There’s nothing more frustrating than not having the right software to do the best you can do’
- Steve Holgado, Senior Front-end Developer

‘I’ve only been here a month and have already been thrown into a bunch of interesting projects and lots of greenfield work. It’s wonderful being surrounded by like-minded, competent people as we’re constantly learning from each other. There are no rigid bounds to what we can achieve’
- Stuart Bannerman, Lead Developer
Lunch & learn
Humans are not software
We have what you could call a ‘google vibe’ to the way we work. It’s very collaborative, relaxed and we respect boundaries. This is far from being a dictatorship, the team defines the latest ideas and direction we take. There is a change management process in place that puts the needs of our coders at the top or our priorities when deadlines change. If any issues emerge, we always pull together as a team - a whole team, we get everyone together and talk through the issues and how we are going to get around them. The reason we have architects here is to build stuff that is robust. We try to preempt the problems.

Don’t be reactive, foresight is key.
This isn’t our first rodeo. Between us we’ve built hundreds of sites at Tangent and throughout our careers. We’ve seen all the common problems before, we know what they are, that’s why it’s important to address them upfront and not when it goes live. The culture here at Tangent is second to none. I’ve gone for a lot of jobs trying to find a great fit and when Tangent came along it ticked all the right boxes. You’re in it together, we think outside the box, we don’t take the obvious solutions. It’s challenging but good.

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