Caring for Your Recently Acquired Programmer

Congratulations! You were just given a new Programmer!

Pop Quiz:

Do you…


  1. outfit your programmer with the standard office equipment?
  2. order custom equipment specialized for software developers? 
  3. ask your programmer what he needs to get his job done? 


 If you answered (2) or (3), you’re on the right track. otherwise, you get a nice little tombstone when your developers leave, a la Oregon Trail:


Software developers do three things:


  1. Concentrate really hard. 
  2. Type a lot. 
  3. Sit on their fourth point of contact for extended periods of time. 


How does the standard office equipment fare against these requirements?

Poorly. At best.

The monitor is a 15 inch LCD as one screen, and a laptop screen as the second. With any luck it’s a desktop with two monitors, but sadly they’re both 15 inches.

In some unspeakable instances developers have *one* monitor.  Prolific developers and bloggers have already beat this subject to death. To save you time, here’s the right answer: High Quality monitors. At least two of them. Really big ones. Like 24″-30″. 

Back to my flattened rear end. Office Chairs are expensive, no doubt.  Office chairs that meet our needs? Even more so. I bought a Herman Miller Mirra chair a while back based on recommendations from people I trust, and it’s the best decision I ever made. Believe me when I say that I’m halfway tempted to take it with me to work:

The final piece of the puzzle is a really fast computer.  Really fast. Not “Oh, I bought this from Dell” fast, but “We needed to custom order these” fast. 

I could spend and entire blog post on that alone (and probably will), but here’s a good rule of thumb: If you can buy it without having to customize it, it’s wrong. Your action word to the Sales rep should be ‘More‘.

Overall, this will cost about $4000 a developer. Another 2-3 grand for the PC.  In return, you get a developer who is happier, more productive, and is less likely to jump ship when one of your competitors wises up and starts offering these perks.

Don’t think about it as a cost, think about it as a savings: For any developer you lose, you’re going to lose a lot more than $4000 to replace them.

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